Righteous Suffering (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Righteous Suffering,” which is part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 2:11-25.

  1. When was a time when someone noticed that you were a follower of Jesus just by the way you live? What happened?
  1. This weekend we continue our series, “Exiles,” on the New Testament letter of 1 Peter. Take a moment to begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you and transform you through His truth. Then, whether you are alone or with others, read 1 Peter 2:11-25 aloud.
  1. Building upon the last section of identity markers (1 Peter 2:9-10), Peter begins this section of the letter begins by returning to terms he used earlier: “foreigners” (1:17) and “exiles” (1:1). Why do you think Peter highlights these terms again here?
  1. There are two major exhortations Peter offers in verses 11 and 12. What are they?
  1. Peter introduces the concept of spiritual warfare here. What do you normally think of when you hear the phrase ‘spiritual warfare’, and how does that relate to what Peter is discussing here?
  1. In verses 13-17, the letter turns toward the meaningful social responsibility of God’s exiled people. What are the major instructions Peter brings to his readers in these verses?
  1. Peter highlights the freedom of God’s people in verse 16. What does he say the point of this freedom is?
  1. Some people say that Christians should always quietly submit to authority, regardless of what the authority asks us to do. Others say that Christians should challenge the established authorities at times when they deviate from the public good. What do you think? How do the themes of submission and doing good inform the way we think about this question?
  1. With 1 Peter 2:18-3:7 Peter applies his teaching to the basic unit of Roman society, the household. He does this in an unexpected way, beginning by addressing the ‘least of these’ personally. How does Peter both dignify and challenge the household servants in verses 18-21?
  1. Peter holds up Jesus as the example for the household servants – and all Christians – to follow in verses 23-25. He does so by weaving Isaiah 53 throughout his words on Jesus. Take a moment to read Isaiah 53 aloud. Where do you hear echoes of Isaiah’s words about the Messiah in 1 Peter 2:23-25?
  1. Why do you think the example of Jesus would be such a powerful example to these early believers who feel like foreigners and exiles? How does Jesus’ example speak to you?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you about your life through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

[Next week: We continue our “Exiles” series with a discussion of “Righteous Relationships.” Prepare ahead of time by reading 1 Peter 3:1-12.]

Morality or Spiritual Transformation?

Here is an excerpt from a message by Matt Chandler in which he addresses why people become “de-churched” – walk away from God and the church. He looks at an approach to Christianity where we focus on doing good or moral things, what Chandler calls “moralistic deism.”

The problem is that when bad things happen, we feel that God owes us something. The problem with this is that God doesn’t owe us anything, and good people in the Bible deal with suffering all of the time.

These words are particularly poignant when you know that Chandler himself has been fighting cancer over the past couple years.

For those of us in ministry, the challenge is how do we introduce people to a relationship with God that leads toward true transformation, not just calling people to moral lives. There must be a greater aim.