INTRODUCTION: We thank God for such a loaded series that has drawn us into a journey of discovery to see in clear picture what the life of a disciple of Christ should be like.
Joint Activity 1: Which of the Beatitudes taught so far touched you the most, and why?
Today we move on to the last one: PERSECUTION.
Question 1: What do you understand by ‘persecution’?
Question 2: Who was the first person to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness in the Bible?
- Over 70 million Christians have died for their faith since the ascension of Jesus.
- Over half of that happened in the last 100 years.
- Every 5 minutes, one believer somewhere in the world is laying down his life for his faith.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT PERSECUTION
- Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him”
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4 “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”
- 1 Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
- 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
- John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
- Acts 14:22 MSG “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.”
TYPES OF PERSECUTION
- Persecution of the hand. This is physical violence (stoning, beating, killing etc—Acts 14:19)
- Persecution of the tongue. (Slander, insults, threats and intimidation—Acts 4:21)
- Persecution by deprivation. (Of rights or promotions to which one is actually qualified)
- Persecution of emotion. (Mockery, ostracism, etc—Luke 23:11)
- Persecution by neglect. (Case study: John the Baptist—Matthew 11:)
- Discuss others…
WHAT THE BIBLE TELLS US ABOUT PERSECUTION
- Persecution can make us more like Jesus (John 15:18-20; 3:19; 1 Peter 4:14)
- Persecution will actually deepen our faith (1 Peter 1:7; Matthew 5:10-12)
Group Activity: 2 people should share about the phase of their lives when they really grew deeper in faith…
- Sometimes, suffering is God’s will (1 Peter 4:19)
- Don’t be surprised (1 Peter 4:12)
- Don’t be afraid (1 Peter 3:14-15)
- Don’t be ashamed (1 Peter 4:16; 5:19) You don’t need other people’s approval to be happy.
- Recognize the source: Satan (Revelations 12:10; Ephesians 6:12)
- Stay away from unnecessary arguments (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
- Refuse to retaliate. (1 Peter 2:23; Romans 12:17-19). You are most like Jesus when you don’t attack back. Besides, anytime you react, you give control to the other party.
- Respond with a blessing. (Romans 12:21; Luke 6:27-29)
I’ll like to end on the case study of John the Baptist because it is such a scenario that most of us can relate with—scenarios when we’ve asked God “If You are really there, why are things like this?” When John asked a similar question, note what Jesus didn’t do:
- Jesus didn’t get angry at the question. (God never turns away the questions of a sincere seeker)
- Jesus didn’t save John.
Rather, Jesus sent a message back to John that the Kingdom is indeed here. It wasn’t that Jesus was silent to what John was going through (or what you and I are going through); rather John has been listening for the wrong answer—he was listening for an answer to his earthly problem while Jesus was busy resolving his heavenly ones. He was asking for solution to the temporary issue; Jesus was attending to his eternal problem. God is listening to you, too—and He is answering requests you are not even making!
Where does that leave us? Don’t be ashamed of God! (Mark 8:38; Matthew 10:32). Stay loyal to Him and He will be there to welcome you home with astonishing rewards when the time comes. Amen.