Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sabbath School Starter – 2015 Q1 L8

From the Sabbath School section
Icebreaker

Memory Text: Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man? (Proverbs 20:6).

Some of us have known a person willing to stand against the prevailing evil of their day. Does anyone come to mind? Who, in your lifetime and experience does this text bring to mind?
Have you ever learned something from someone’s actions that you couldn’t learn from their words? What was it? How did their actions make the ‘learning difference’?


Introduction

The death of a little monk named Telemachus during Rome’s gladiator games in 404 AD was one of the stones to cause ripples that became waves which washed Roman culture away and replaced it with Medieval Christian culture. You can read Telemachus story on the following link.


Have a close look at the story and you will find two endings. You will also find plenty of material for this week’s lesson. This story can be used to create conversation on nearly all of the topics in this week’s lesson. You might want to print out the above website and take a few copies to class so people can use it in groups.

Tell the story of Telemachus. Then consider the following questions.


Words of Wisdom

Consider the two endings. The usually quoted ending (of all the people leaving in silence due to their disgust of seeing gladiators kill a monk) is from Foxes Book of Martyrs which was written more than a millennium after the story happened. The other ending (of the monk being stoned to death by the crowd because he interrupted their entertainment) was from the writings of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria (393-457 A.D.) – a contemporary of Telemachus. It is clear that the oldest ending is the most accurate to the facts.

Which ending is more startling to you? Why?

What does the death of a monk at the hands of the populous of Rome tell you about the city?

What does the cancelling (forever!) of Gladiator games, three days later, by Emperor Honorius suggest? What effect do you think it had on the people?

Although Medieval Christianity was vastly different than Christianity today, Emperor Honorius enacted many laws protecting, encouraging and enforcing Christian practices. Christianity was overtaking the pagan culture of Rome. Why? What does this suggest about the wisdom of the scriptures (yet to be canonized) which were part and parcel to the Christian faith?


We are all equal

Read Proverbs 20:12
How did Telemachus demonstrate this text was alive within him?

How might Telemachus’ willingness to interrupt two massive gladiators demonstrate the common ground he felt with them?

While it is usually told that Telemachus’ reason was due to righteous indignation, might he have leaped into the Gladiator’s pit to save them from death? Might he have been treating them the way he would want to be treated if he were in a fight to the death? Saved, by one willing to interrupt and risk rejection.


The test of Life

When I went to work in a secular workplace, I wanted a way to spread the Kingdom of God without cheesy Christian-speak sounding clichés. I spent many hours considering the meaning of God’s Kingdom. What is it? What does it mean for God’s Kingdom to be near? What does it mean to expand the borders of God’s Kingdom? What does it look like to be a Citizen of the Kingdom living in exile?

I toyed around with a few different phrases and finally settled on: “Keep Changing the World!” For the past two years I have signed off every email, to whomever, with that phrase. It has been amazing to see the responses. People love it. It encourages and challenges them at the same time. As followers of Jesus, how does the desire to “Keep changing the World!” reveal a life well lived? What other phrase would you use?

Telemachus died for what he believed in. You can only do that once. How does “living for what you believe in” compare? Is it harder or easier? Why? How does it have the potential to be more powerful?


Waiting for the Lord

This section of the lesson talked about not being quick to judge yourself or others. Wait for the Lord to do the judging. Is this easy? How hard is it to let the Lord handle the matter, in His time? Can you think of a time when you were successful at this? How did it change you?

Sometimes God asks us to act now. When has God asked you, or someone you know, to be like Telemachus and stop evil, injustice or unfair treatment of others? Did you do it? Was it hard? Was it rewarding?


Compassion for the poor

How does compassion for the poor reveal the character of the Christian?
Why do you think Jesus chooses this as His main criteria for judging between followers and fakes?
How did Jesus model this in His time on Earth?

How can we, like Telemachus, be driven by Christian love no matter the cost?


Education

Telemachus yelled, “In the name of Christ stop!” What did he teach in those words?

Then he jumped in the ring and stood between two gladiators. What did he teach in his actions?

It is often said that actions speak louder than words. Do you agree? Why?