Start Up Being rejected feels terrible. At some point, we’ve all felt the pain of hatred, rejection, slander, and not being welcomed. Jesus followers should be the most welcoming people on the planet because Jesus opened His arms to everyone. But, living this way will also raise a few eyebrows and often be seen as scandalous–it certainly was with Jesus. Have you ever been somewhere and immediately knew you weren’t welcome? Where was it? What gave you the impression you weren’t wanted? Describe a time where someone went out of his or her way to make you feel welcome. What did that person do to help you feel accepted? Discuss Together Read Luke 7:36-39. What do you think it would have felt like to be at this party? What words would you use to describe this scene? The religious leaders were constantly judging Jesus based on who He associated with, whether it was tax collectors, "sinners," or people with diseases. Have you ever felt unfairly judged because of who you were associating with? How did the Pharisee use his faith and religious views to justify being unwelcoming to this woman? Do we still do this today? Now, read Luke 7:40-50. How does Jesus’ story shatter the false narrative of religion the Pharisee had bought into? Jesus didn’t dilute truth or ignore sin. But He also welcomed the sinner (and ultimately died for all sinners). What can we learn from Jesus about managing the tension between recognizing sin and welcoming the sinner? How can image and reputation management get in the way of faith and loving the way Jesus loved? Is it a struggle for you? What categories do we have that are the most divisive and polarizing? What would it look like for you to love and be welcoming to someone who is in a different category than your (e.g., a different political party, sexual orientation, religion, and culture)? What feelings and areas of discomfort would you have to wrestle with? Would your neighbors describe you as welcoming? Would your co-workers describe you as open-armed and accepting? Why or why not? Are you feeling rejected somewhere today? Where and how is it affecting you? LIVE BIG How did your group decide to participate together in #LoveDoesTheUnexpected? Make any final plans and don’t forget to share broadly!