One Thing About God Book Bible Study – Ch. 3
Chapter 3 – The One Thing
Intro video for chapter 3 below. I couldn’t resist posting this video from City Slickers as well about finding your one thing. I apologize there is one swear word in it fyi.
This chapter helps us realize the importance of being focused. It’s not about being busy but productive. Being productive in the Christian life is getting to know God better which facilitates a closer relationship with Him. It’s this root that will lead to fruit and actions such as kindness, giving, evangelism, etc. But the focus always needs to be on the root that produces the fruit.
- Luke 10:38-42
- Luke 9:16
- Psalm 127:1
- Gen. 3:1-7
Ch. 3 Outline
- “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
- Drumroll – God’s character. Now that’s a complex thing but we can see it embodied in Jesus. Jesus simultaneously speaks to us about who God is and our identity in Christ. So that’s the one thing you need to know about God because it makes everything else easier or unnecessary. When you know his love and so much easier to love others. When you know He wants to be your provider, it makes it unnecessary to constantly be concerned about money. The list goes on.
- Mary & Martha – Martha wasn’t an evil person. She was just distracted.
- “Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.”
- How being distracted is effecting the church – we’re talking too much about marriage and finances and evangelism, etc. The thing I would say about that is if you want to talk about those things you can start a group outside the church, but at church the message needs to be focused on Jesus and a message that applies to all.
- It’s not about being busy it’s about being productive – being productive in a spiritual sense is getting to know God through Jesus. Simple. It will lead to all those other things but those things should never be focus.
Keep these questions in mind as you read Chapter 3 and come back to them after you read the chapter.
- Read Luke 10:38-42. Was Martha an evil woman? Why was she distracted? Who do you relate to in the story and why?
- What is the one thing that by knowing it makes everything else in the Christian life easier or unnecessary? Why do you think this is?
- What or who is God’s character embodied in?
- What does Jesus speak to us about God and who we are?
- Read Gen. 3:1-7. What lie did the serpent tell Eve? What was the result? How do you think this is relevant to our society today?
- Do you think people who don’t go to church are rejecting God? Could it be they are just rejecting an incorrect message they’ve heard about God? How can we combat this?
- How is success defined in the Christian life?
- What should be the focus of ministry?
- What is the best thing that can happen for a pastor?
- What do you think a church that only focuses on the one thing would look like?
Here is the entire chapter if you haven’t downloaded the book or received your hard copy yet:
Chapter 3 – The One Thing
The one thing is a business concept but it’s easy to find a scriptural precedent for it. Look no further than the story of Mary and Martha. Here is how the short parable goes in Luke 10:
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We need to understand that Martha is not some evil woman in this parable. She loved Jesus, but she was distracted. She wanted help preparing her big dinner and petitioned Jesus to have Mary help her. But Mary wasn’t going to be distracted. She said I’m not going anywhere. See Martha didn’t have to do all this service. She believed everything depended on her doing all this service, but remember Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves (Luke 9:16). How many times do we think it all depends on us and we get distracted from the one thing that really matters?
God is constantly trying to get us to get our minds off of ourselves and onto Him but we live in a society obsessed with self. On top of that, it is preached to us that if we don’t fend for ourselves, who will? God wants to take care of you. When you have the mentality to provide for yourself, it doesn’t change God’s desire, but His ability to work through you is hindered because he has given us free will.
Conventional wisdom will ask how will you eat, how will you get things done if you’re not always concerning yourself with them but Jesus specifically says one thing is needful in this parable. What’s that? It’s to sit at His feet. In other words just hear His Word. Hear about who He is, what He’s done for you, what He thinks about you and the relationship He wants with you. Why is this one thing needful? Well, Gary explains this in his book. He’s talking about how it relates to business, but again the parallels with the church and your relationship with God are clear. He says to ask this;;
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Remember in the first chapter when I said I’ll explain why asking what God wants you to know is not only the right question, but a life altering one? This is why. The answer to that question will provide you with the answer that will, by knowing it, make everything else easier or unnecessary. Sitting at Jesus’ feet is so hard for us though. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever get up and do things if we sit at His feet, but it means getting to know Him is the most important thing. That thing, “knowing Him”, is what makes everything else easier or unnecessary. When you know His love for you, it’s so much easier for you to receive that and love others. When you know He’s your provider, it’s unnecessary to constantly concern yourself with money. The list goes on.
Now you might be asking yourself, so what is the one thing you need to know about God that I mentioned in the book title. If I could boil it down to one thing it would be God’s character because this is what will draw you to Him. Once He draws you to Him, you can have that relationship and the rest takes care of itself. It’s similar to the domino effect Keller describes in his book (see image below). When you come to Him first because you know His character, it sets in motion the first domino to drop that has a domino effect on everything else.
It’s like what happens in romantic relationships. Two people are drawn to each other to the point of intimacy and out of that, fruit is born (a child). But in the church today, most are trying to have a baby without the intimacy. They are trying to go right past that stage, and/or decrease its importance.
God’s character is a complex thing though. His character is embodied in Jesus. Jesus is simultaneously speaking a word to us about who God is and what God thinks about us. Jesus said in John 5:39 that all scripture points towards Him. So, Jesus is the one thing that we need to know about God. He’s the one thing that we should be preaching about and hearing about. He’s what Christianity is about. He’s what this book is about.
Another quote that stuck out to me in the One Thing book was when Gary said “success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.” In my previous book 18 Mile, the tagline for it was redefining success. What I meant by that was God changed my perspective from defining success by how the world views it (money, fame, power, etc.) to the Chiristian perspective which is being able to have peace, love and joy regardless of your circumstances. In my opinion the church is often too concerned about trying to do everything right to get success as the world defines it and not focused on the one thing that leads to “spiritual success”.
If you follow my line of thinking, Christians will find peace, love and joy no matter what is going on around them. But I don’t find many Christians being able to do that. Furthermore, I don’t think the fault is theirs. I believe the root of the problem is the message they have been hearing. They’re always hearing about how they’re not giving enough, not loving enough, not volunteering enough, not going on enough mission trips, etc. How can one have peace and joy if they’re always hearing about what they’re not doing compared to what they should be doing?
This doesn’t mean that I think all preachers are bad people. God loves them and I love them too. I preached the same thing many of the mainstream preachers are teaching as well. I sent the same message. I’m not trying to disparage anybody but I am against a message that either directly or indirectly distances people from God. I understand many preachers are just teaching what they have been taught. Then once you start down a certain path, it’s very hard to humble yourself and admit that what you are believing might not be right. I can only imagine how hard it would be, especially if you already have a decent size church, to repent and go the other way from what you have been preaching. A lot of the root of the problem comes from the misconception that pastors need to have a big church and church building to fulfill God’s call on their life. This is what leads to all the preaching about giving money, volunteering, witnessing, etc.
Many pastors want to build the church like you build a business. They are relying on their ability to persuade people to do things they want, many times without any regard for how that affects the person’s relationship with God. Before you know it, you aren’t hearing about the love of God anymore, you’re hearing about what you need to do to build their church. You might hear a mixed message at best, but again a confused mind always says no. A person with a confused mind might come to church because they fear what might happen if they don’t, but they don’t find themselves really desiring a relationship with God. They may be persuaded to go evangelize for the church like they are prospecting for a business because they are motivated by a false belief that God will love them more if they do, but their efforts aren’t successful because their message isn’t genuine. Then church leaders wonder why they don’t have a bigger church and blame it on the people.
A church should never be defined by how many people it has or how big their building is. The problem with most ministries is it’s filled with people who are trying to find their worth and value in their ministry. They are building their own tower of Babel. That is not what ministry is about. Unless this house be built by God, you labor in vain (Psalm 127:1).
The focus of ministry is also not to get some people to do what you want, or act differently. What we usually see and hear when we go to church and read the Bible is our shortcomings. That is empowering our unbelief. The place we are supposed to go to get our faith is the same place that is beating us down. Ministers shouldn’t be trying to fear someone into the gospel or twist their arm to act right. It’s like if you propose to someone with a gun to their head, do you think that person really wants to marry you? If she does out of fear, what type of life do you think that would lead to? Christ has proposed to all of us but we have painted a picture of Christ that says marry me or you will die. Something inside of people tells them that is not love.
People who are rejecting God are usually rejecting the perverted Gospel. They think that is something inside of them rejecting God but really that is something in them rejecting the perverted Gospel. People hear about the law (10 commandments) and think they can’t be justified with God when the law was never meant to justify them but help them realize their need for a savior. The true Gospel is that we have right standing with God through what Jesus did on the cross. That’s it. All we have to do is believe. That belief or faith doesn’t come from willpower, it comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Churches should be about a message that facilitates a relationship with God. Period. The best thing that can happen for a preacher or pastor is to see the life of God being born in someone. Not build a big church or get a bunch of money. The focus of ministry is to get people to see how beautiful the word that God has spoken of them in Christ is, and then their life can be born from that Word.
Keller goes on to mention four thieves of productivity. The first one is the inability to say no. In the instance of the church, we have to learn to say no to things contrary to the character of God. In order to do that you have to know the character of God. That’s the one thing you need to know about God because that will be the plumb line for your Chrisitian life. Some things may look good, just like the tree of the knowledge of good of evil was (Gen. 3:6). Some things may not seem like a big deal, however in terms of the messages we preach and messages you listen to, it is a big deal what you’re feeding yourself. You’re asking for trouble if you stray from the one thing and this is life or death we’re talking about.
So remember, the point here is not to focus on being busy like Martha but productive. And being productive in a Christian sense is about growing your relationship with God which leads to peace, love, joy and the fruit of the Spirit. These things will lead to other fruit in your life like giving, evangelism, volunteering, mission trips and more but that is not the focus. It’s the root of relationship with God that leads to the fruit and relationship only comes from getting to know somebody. Again, don’t let the devil make you think life with God is hard. It’s easy, it’s the answer. It’s the one and only thing you need.
This sermon by Greg Henry talks a lot about the importance of the one thing as well. Check it out if you have a chance.