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“You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother,” according to Cyprian, a leader in the early church and martyr. What did he mean? Is it true? How is the Church like a mother? Pastor Luke looks at Galatians 4:19–5:1 in a special Mothers’ Day message titled, “Listen to Your Mother.”
Talk It Over
Open. 1. How is/was your mother like your father? How are/were they different? (If you prefer, you can contrast fathers and mothers from other or “generic” families.)
Observe. Read Galatians 4:19-5:1.
2. Paul wishes (4: 20) he could use a different tone. How is a face-to-face conversation different than correspondence (email, text messages, etc.)? Which would you use if you needed to deliver bad news? Why? Which is better if you have to hear bad news? Why?
3. Paul begins by reminding his audience of their warm relationship (vv. 19-20) and only then invokes the Bible (vv. 21-30). In your experience, is that typical of how Christians speak to others? Can you think of exceptions?
4. Using the allegory of Hagar and Sarah (vv. 24-31), Paul compares the Jewish Law, or Old Covenant, to enslavement, and the Gospel, or New Covenant, to being freed. In that light, how could you restate what Paul means in verse 5: 1?
5. “Church” comes from a Germanic word used to translate a Greek word in the Bible that originally meant “an assembly of people who are called out” to do something together (like when the city was threatened by an invader). How does “church” capture that meaning? What is lost in translation?
6. Read the description of the “Jerusalem above” in Hebrews 12: 22-23. How clearly do the churches you know reflect that picture?
7. In Gal. 4:26, Paul says our mother is the other woman (Sarah, the free woman) who represents “the Jerusalem above.” How is the church like a mother? (You might consider your answer to question 1.)
Reflect. 8. Cyprian (d. 258 AD) said, “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.” What did he mean? What must the Church do to be a mother for believers? What kind of support should believers expect the Church to provide them?