Hebrews 4:14 NIV

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Hebrews 4:15 NIV

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Sympatheo - "to feel or suffer with"

Hebrews 4:16 NIV

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Empathy creates the security to move close.
Empathy enables a relational connection that did not preciously exist.

1 John 1:1-3 NIV

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:3-5

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Be wise in your use of social media and don't expect it to do what only "face to face" presence can do.

Intentionally make friends with those who are different than you. Listen and seek to understand their perspective.

Remember who you are, and to what you have been called.

In this weekend’s message we shared how social media can help keep people connected, but it can also work against developing healthy relationships with others. How has social media been a positive resource in your life? How has it enhanced your relationship with God and others? In what ways has it been a detriment to your friendships? What are some ways that you can take advantage of the positive and minimize the negative effects of social media in your life?

Read Hebrews 4:15-16. What quality does the writer of Hebrews identify in Jesus that allowed him to be an effective high priest? Why is Jesus able to empathize with us? Why is the ability to empathize vital in personal relationships? What steps must we take to increase our empathy toward others, especially those who are very different from us? How might social media and other technology hinder our ability to empathize?

Read 1 John 1:1-3. How does John describe the experience of encountering Jesus in his incarnation? What does John say is the result of sharing in the presence of Christ together? What does Jesus’ incarnation teach us about our relationship with one another? What challenges do you face in making bodily presence a priority in your relationships? What steps do you need to take to overcome those challenges?

Read Philippians 2:3-8. What mindset did Jesus have when he stepped out of his world and into ours? How will that same mindset enable you to do the same? This weekend, Pastor Scott challenged us to be intentional this year about fostering friendships within the church with people of a different race, ethnicity, and culture than our own. What attitudes from Philippians 2 will be necessary for you to accomplish this?

Our annual week of prayer and fasting is January 12-19. This is a time of consecration and spiritual preparation for the new year. Plan to clear your schedule that week to create extra space to spend time with the Lord!