Finding your way should lead to knowing who you are and where you are going.
We all daydream about the ultimate dream vacation. Share your dream vacation destination with the group. Have you visited there yet? If not, discuss, where you have been that came close. If you have been there, was it all you hoped it would be or did it fail to meet your expectation?
Following the rules of tradition is safe. We know this way of doing things has always worked in the past. People and life, however, are fluid: in a state of constant change. Things that worked in the past may not work as well in the present. When God is calling us to step beyond our comfort zone of the way we’ve always done things, we must be willing to go beyond the reef as Moana did and discover who we are and what God has called us to do. If not, we might be left standing on the shore longing for the horizon.
Read John 14: 1-6.
1. Jesus is breaking the bad news of His death and departure to His disciples. He seeks to comfort and reassure them. He begins, “Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.” What are some of the thoughts and emotions that might trouble the disciples with Jesus being gone?
2. How would believing in God and Jesus help their hearts to not be troubled? How does believing in God and Jesus help your heart to not be troubled?
3. Suddenly the disciples realize the time has come for them to go beyond the reef and face the world without Jesus physically leading the way. Naturally they have some serious doubts and questions. Jesus tells them they know where he is going. Paraphrasing verse 5, Thomas says what they are all thinking, “uh, no we don’t!” How does Jesus answer him about knowing the way?
4. Read verse 4 slowly. Jesus says, “You know the way where I am going.” Can you visualize the word play being used? It appears He might be telling them two pieces of the puzzle instead of just what we read at first glance. Discuss what you think Jesus is both saying and implying here.
5. Technology today allows travelers to plug in a few coordinates or an address for a destination, and a clear route is presented (sometimes several variations of the same route). In the ancient world, finding true north was the only way to reach your destination. In contrast, GPS relies on the maps that are available and is not always reliable, much like the advice of people. Discuss how Jesus is like the north star as opposed to GPS. Why is this better? What do you use to find your way in the world?
6. As we look back at the story of Moana we know that although she is in line to be the new leader of her island, she is deeply troubled. She is struck by uncertainty, fear, and doubt as she longs for the horizon. She is also troubled by the islanders expressing fear and doubt. Rules and tradition have always been followed on the island. Discuss how this is similar to people being afraid to go against the tradition of religion to explore what God is calling them to pursue.
7. Moana encounters several people along her journey. One encounter is with her father and the tradition of the chiefs before him. They have all followed the rule that says, “no one goes beyond the reef,” a rule that is said to keep them safe. By following this rule, they have been stuck on the island all their lives. Jesus calls us to go beyond the reef of religion. He invites us to live life abundantly. Discuss how getting caught up in the trap of following burdensome rules made by men–and only following them because that is the way it has always been done–can deprive you of the life of freedom Jesus has promised. Is there anything you find comforting about the rules/reef?
8. Moana also encounters a shapeshifter named Maui. Basically, he determines what people want to see and he becomes that image. Are we guilty of this? If you answered “no,” just look at social media. We often try to create our own demi-god version of ourselves to show the world. Discuss how only presenting our good side can be harmful to both us and those following our social media profiles.
9. Maui is lost and thinks any way is better than no way. Following his own way has left him marooned on a rocky island, and along the way he has also lost his heart. What are some ways that we try to get where we want to be? What do we depend on or rely on? Discuss how following Jesus as THE way protects your heart (your soul).
10. Moana finally realizes she was mistaken about the call on her life being beyond the horizon. She discovers who she is and that the call wasn’t out there, but instead was a still, quiet voice. She realizes she is called to be Moana and not someone else. Read Proverbs 22:1. All year this has been our focal verse at Faith Promise. This is because we believe the people of Faith Promise are called out by God and “what God calls you, calls you out.” What does God call you? How is He calling you out this year?
Is anyone in your group longing to go beyond the horizon? Take a few minutes to share what you dream about being beyond the reef in your life. Tradition keeps us safe; is God leading anyone in your group to move beyond safety and seek what is beyond the reef?
Do you know someone struggling with making a tough decision? Someone trying to decide if they need to make a break from tradition and leave behind the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality? If so, invite them out for ice cream or coffee and share what you learned this week from the combination of God’s word and a kids’ movie.
We encourage groups to try the Discovery Bible Method as an alternative to these discussion questions. You will find details for this Bible study method here. For this week, please study John 14:1-6.
The questions this week contain more text than usual. Get other members of your group involved in leading discussion by asking them to read the questions aloud.
1. They would have doubt, fear, and uncertainty. Above all, they might wonder about what direction to take. For three and a half years they followed Jesus, and suddenly they find themselves without someone pointing the way.
2. Jesus is reminding them He and God are one. God led the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land, and Jesus is completing God’s rescue of his people.
3. Jesus told them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
4. The disciples are hearing Him say you know “the way,” as in the direction to travel or the road to follow. Looking closer, Jesus is also saying they actually know THE way, which is Jesus. If they know Jesus, then they just need to follow Him.
5. The Greek word used for “the way” is hodos. In the Bible it is used as a direction (i.e. which way/road do we take?) as well as metaphorically (i.e. a way to to think, feel, or decide something). See Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: New American Standard Bible. 1995.
6. Religion is a set of man-made rules. What Jesus is offering is freedom from rules that burden and a relationship to replace those rules. Jesus allows for a relationship to form between believer and God. Our connection (or “way”) to God is through Jesus and not through checking a list of do’s and don’ts.
7. Jesus is more concerned with us building a relationship with Him than how many times we pray during the day or how many pages of scripture we read. These things are important. However, how we apply what we read in His word and following what He tells us through our prayers is more important. Jesus wants us to long to know Him, not just know about Him. Like the reef, the rules can make us feel safe. We may think that as long as we do all the right things and avoid the wrong things, we are safe. We must be careful not to allow rule keeping to make us believe the lie that we can achieve our own salvation.
10. You can give your group some time to discuss how this verse has been impacting them throughout the year. This is our theme verse for the year and thus we keep circling back to it.