(Note: this post is written with a sarcastic tone)
Part 1 of 2: Guarding the Gospel at Bible Study
When you open God’s word with others there is one sure way to kill freedom and steal joy: act like you’re good enough.
Here’s what it looks like: you sit down with friends, pray, and read a passage of the Bible together. Next, after a few minutes, a command of God becomes clear (such as: you shall not lie, or love one another). So far so good. But what comes next?
If you want to bury each other with guilt, find ways to justify yourself in light of this commandment. You can start by talking about how other people (anyone not at the Bible study will do) break this command. Next you can grieve openly about how bad it is that they are like this: the problems it causes our society, the pain it bring to people (anything wrong under the sun that can be traced to this sin is fair game).
Then comes the crucial step: make it known that you are not like those other people when it comes to this sin. There are numerous ways to do this: you can start with a humblebrag, a subtle self-promotion, a positive personal example, or even use a prayer (“I thank you God that I am not like…”). Or there are less subtle ways: “I never do that,” or “how could anyone ever be so bad?” If everything goes well you can move on in your Bible study to prayer requests, and then close the study.
You’ll know you have succeeded if there is little or no joy left in the room. People should look tired and weary by that point–like they are almost done with a cumbersome chore. Some will be carrying a burden, hoping they are as good as they claim to be. Others will feel satisfied with the thought that God must be pleased with them; this looks just like the satisfaction on the face of an older brother after beating his younger brother at something.
There will be no freedom and no joy.