TobyMac - One World (Or City On Our Knees) Study

I wrote this Bible study resource for TobyMac's song "One World" a year or so back.  It didn't end up getting published in the Interlinc Magazine (Record company licensing of a song on a compilation CD to another compilation CD negotiations blah blah blah....) but recently it's come out, repurposed, for another of Mr. Mac's (I say that because he's older than I am) songs, "City on Our Knees."  It's part of a free resource from Interlinc - promoting  TobyMac's new book, City on Our Knees.  The original study is in this post.  You can see how the repurposed study has changed it here (Page 2 of the book - session 1) - but it's largely the same in both versions.

Leader Guide
Artist: TobyMac
@: tobymac.com
Album: Hip Hope Hits 2009
Label: Gotee
Song: One World (Liquid Remix)
Writer: Kirk Moore
Ministry: Union Congregational United Church of Christ
Location: Somonauk, Illinois
Email: kirk@revkirk.com


Students will discuss Jesus desire for unity in the church. They’ll discuss areas where people can work together in the midst of such diverse religious opinions.

Warm- up:
Agreement. This game is similar to “Match Game,” and old television game show.  Give each student about 10 pieces of paper and a writing instrument. Ask a series of short questions about controversial or ‘wedge’ issues for people in the church.  After each round, collect the answers to read later. Instruct the students to answer as honestly as possible- and not to put their names on the sheets. (Students may elect to write “neither” or “both” or something similar on their cards. Work in into the discussion.) Here are some suggestions for the wedge issues:
  • Guantanamo Prison:  Close it or Keep it Open
  • Minimum wage:  Raise it or Keep it the same?
  • Democrat or Republican?
  • Liberal or Conservative?
  • Evolution or Creation?
  • Undocumented People or Illegal Immigrants?
  • Pro choice or Pro Life?
  • Embryonic Stem Cell Research – yes or no?
  • Marriage equality – yes or no?
Collate the answers and announce the views represented in the room. Some issues may be overwhelmingly one-sided, but many will also be very evenly divided.  Take note that Christians often disagree on issues. It is important for students to learn to work together to share God’s love in the midst of those disagreements.

Those were some pretty controversial issues, eh? Sometimes it seems like it is impossible to work together with people whose opinions on the issues are so different that yours are.  TobyMac’s song “One World” expresses hope that we can learn to live in love with all of God’s children. While you’re listening, Write some phrases or draw a few pictures that express unity.

“I'll look out for you, you look out for me” sounds like a call for all of God’s children to care for each other. We see so much fighting in the church about so many different things. Does the Bible really tell us to find ways to work together?

Bible Lesson:

Have selected students read the following verses aloud:
  • Psalm 133:1
  • John 17:22
  • Romans 15:5-7
  • Galatians 3:28
  • Ephesians 4:1-3
  • Philippians 4:5
  • Colossians 3:11-14

Discuss the student’s reactions to the verses

An oft-quoted bit of advice about how Christians should act towards one another has been attributed to St. Augustine, though no one is sure who the original author is:

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.

Discuss the student’s reactions to the quote

Christians have never, nor will they likely ever, agree about everything. When we do have disagreements, it is important to remember the two rules that Jesus said were the most important:
Love God
Love everyone

It is also important to know that a central them running through the Bible has God creating, redeeming and reconciling – while we continue to mess up. How can we find ways to break the pattern and be part of God’s reconciliation? How can we find ways to work together to show our love for God and for all of God’s children. What are some things we could do together?

(possible suggestions)
  • Care for the poor
  • Reach out in love to a person we disagree with
  • Feed those who are hungry
  • Work to end homelessness

Add to the list from students suggestions – discuss.

Say:  Let’s pick one of the issues we’ve just discussed and find ways to work with all kinds of different youth in our communities to make it happen. Who knows? We may find that by embracing the places we agree, it may lead to much better conversations about the things where we disagree.
We may have a long way to go, but let’s start today. Let’s trust that God is doing as Jesus asked, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one.”

Closing prayer:
Help us, O God, to love you and to love all of your children. Help us to reach out in love. Amen

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