Small Group Study (Youth)
United in peace, for the world, we are called to be servant leaders
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
The passage of the vine in John 15 is one of Jesus’s last discourses given to the disciples as they move from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane. Knowing that his time on earth with them would soon be over, Jesus gives them these instructions expressing his desire that they remain in him and thus remain united to one another. This passage culminates with a clear command: to love one another as he has loved them.
As followers of Jesus today, we too are called to follow this command. It is central to how we live out our faith. In order to become servant leaders like Jesus, it is essential that we cultivate a deep understanding of God’s love for us and our call to love one another.
Exploring what it means to love as Jesus loved, we will find that we are called to invite others to come and know this Jesus we follow. Moreover, the unconditional and sacrificial love of Christ challenges us to explore who we are in relationship with and prompts us to overcome social barriers in order to bring people together. Additionally, this passage reminds us that through Jesus we are all connected to one another. Thus, our love for Jesus and for one another is revealed when we remain in community together. Love is displayed through our unity.
Read John 15:1-17 (The Vine and the Branches).
- Discussion Questions
- This passage occurs between the Last Supper and Jesus’s arrest. Why do you think Jesus paused to share these words with the disciples? What is he trying to communicate to them before his arrest/death?
- The word remain is repeated several times in this passage. Why do you think Jesus places so much emphasis on this word? Why do you think is it important for the disciples to remain in him? And why is it important for us to remain in him?
- In verse 12, Jesus gives this command: “Love each other as I have loved you.” This call to love is at the heart of servant leadership. We see that Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, loved his disciples by inviting them into relationship, serving unconditionally, and giving of his life sacrificially. But we also see that Jesus’s love wasn’t just for the disciples. Jesus exhibits love for others all throughout John’s gospel.
Read John 4:1-26, 39-42, 46-54; 5:1-9; 8:2-11; 9:1-12
- What do these stories tell us about Jesus’s love? What social boundaries did Jesus challenge by interacting with these people?
- What does it mean for us to love as Jesus loved?
- Are there people who are different from you that you don’t tend to interact with? How can you show love to them? What is one way you can invite them into relationship?
- Is there anyone you have difficulty loving? Who is someone you disagree with? How can you show love to this person?
- Do you know anyone who has experienced something difficult or been treated in a way that you have never experienced? How might you come alongside this person and learn from them?
- Thinking back to the passage of the vine, how does our connection to Jesus change the way we relate to one another? Knowing that we are connected to one another through Jesus, how does this impact the way we love each other, especially people on the margins or who are different from us?
Deepening our connection to Jesus is essential to shaping our hearts and becoming servant leaders who love others as Jesus loves us. To truly love one another, we must first have a deep understanding of God’s love for us.
Sometimes we hear metaphors about God’s love—that it’s greater than the ocean or more infinite than the stars in the sky. But perhaps such grand analogies cause us to tune out. We think, Ok, I get it, God’s love is big and unfathomable. Yet we stop short of really trying to imagine it. What if we took time to really try to grasp just how vast is God’s love?
[Youth Leader, share a story or ask the students to share about a time they were truly amazed by something, a time they were totally blown away with wonder and disbelief.]
For example, last year I was on a cruise where we were out at sea for four days. I remember standing on the balcony, staring out at the ocean, and being completely overwhelmed by how vast and expansive it was. Every direction I looked, the water continued on beyond the horizon. Before that trip, I knew in my head that the ocean was big, but standing on that balcony, I experienced the greatness of it for the first time. I was simply amazed.
This is how great God’s love for us is. It just keeps going and going. Wow.
I think that wow feeling is what we’re supposed to experience when we truly dwell in God’s love. When we experience that love, there is a sense of fullness and freedom. The abundance of God’s grace is so unbelievable—how can we not share this with others?
(Additional Option: Listen to “This Love” by Housefires or include this song in a time of worship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2tYK-mwFLE )
Personal Reflection / Prayer
Take a moment to sit and reflect on that wow feeling. Feel God’s love wash over you and fill you up from the inside out. How abundant and overflowing is this love. Such joy. Such peace. Such freedom. Soak it in. This is connection to the Vine. This is being filled with Jesus’s love.
God, we are overwhelmed by your love for us. Lord, help us remember to pause and take time with you to dwell in your love and grow in our connection with you so that you may shape our hearts and mold us into the servant leaders you are calling us to be. (Pause in silence.)
Lord, help us become more aware of opportunities to extend your love to others. Just as you abundantly love us, help us to love one another. Help us to remember those on the margins, people who don’t quite fit in. Lord, bring to mind someone you are calling us to love. (Pause in silence.) God, fill each of us with your love that we may have the courage to reach out and invite others into relationship.
Lord, would you also help us know how to best be in community with one another. When we disagree or feel angry or hurt by one another, help us to remember your love. Help us to remember that you connect us to one another, that we belong to each other. Lord, bring to mind someone to whom we need to show grace. (Pause in silence.) God, fill us each with your love that we may be united in community together.
Lord, thank you for loving us so abundantly. Help us each day to dwell in your love so that we may become servant leaders who love one another just as you have loved us. Amen.
Here are some recommended next steps you can take as a community to practice servant leadership (loving as Jesus loved).
- What people groups are missing from your community? Consider why they might be missing or why they might not feel welcomed in your community. Make intentional efforts to enter into relationship with them. This may require going outside of your comfort zone and learning more about others whose life experiences are very different from your own or your group’s.
- As a community, commit to discussing issues together. In any group people are bound to have differences of opinion. Many today are leaving the church when they disagree with something that is said or sometimes because of things that are left unsaid. Instead of leaving or resentfully storing up our hurt or anger, let us commit to discuss things to together and remain united in Christ’s love.