The Good Life – Session 8
October 28, 2020
HAPPY ARE THE PERSECUTED
In God’s sovereign , He’ll take and use it to teach us how to rely on Him to .
How would you say our culture feels about the church?
Why do you think there seems to be such growing animosity toward Christians in culture today?
Do you expect your religious freedoms to be respected and protected, or do you expect to face persecution in your lifetime? Explain.
In this last session, Pastor Derwin teaches that happy are those who are persecuted for their with Jesus. While it may be unsettling to think of persecution bringing , God often reveals His redemptive through persecution.
Watch the session 8 video featuring Derwin Gray.
Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.
Read Matthew 5:10-12.
Does it make you nervous to know that life with Jesus will be fraught with trials and persecution? How does the Lord bring us comfort?
What does it mean to be persecuted “because of righteousness”? How is this different than what we may think of as persecution?
Have you ever experienced any kind of backlash because of your faith? How did that make you feel? What was your response?
As we decide by faith to pursue the good life and experience the kingdom of God, we’ll encounter persecution and opposition from the dark powers that rule this present age. At the very least, we’ll experience internal spiritual persecution as we fight sin and shed the old way of living. In those moments we can either turn to Jesus or worldly tactics to fight against persecution.
What was Jesus’ posture toward persecution?
What does it look like to respond to mistreatment like Jesus did?
Jesus was slandered, mocked, and misrepresented through His earthy ministry. Jewish religious leaders followed Him constantly, seeking to discredit Him. Eventually He was beaten, tortured, and executed, but in all the chaos Jesus had clarity, because He knew who He was. When we find our identity in the deep love of God, we’re secure enough not to allow the chaos to cloud our vision as we testify to the kingdom of God. Often in chaos and persecution, followers of Jesus lose their cool because they forget their identity and fall prey to deception. During chaos we can remain composed and loving in the face of those who oppose Christ in us. This is an act of worship that displays heaven on earth.
Jesus endured persecution without lying, insulting, or sinning in return. He trusted God and loved His persecutors. He prayed for them even as they were killing Him. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we can do the same. And when we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, we’re not only pointing them to the gospel of Christ, but we’re also administering divine healing into our souls and spreading God’s grace to others.
How was God’s redemptive plan fulfilled through persecution?
The Book of Acts tells the story of this small band of disciples scattering all over the known world. Everywhere they went, the gospel transformed people. Within 300 years, this tiny fringe group overwhelmed the Roman Empire with the gospel.
What’s our posture to be as the church is pushed even more toward the margin? How can we point to Jesus even in a changing culture?
Praying for our enemies fortifies our hearts against the disease that has infected those who are persecuting us. How can you love and pray for your enemies today?
Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.
Read Psalm 34:5. Would your unbelieving friends say you resemble the person described in this verse? Why or Why not?
Why might having a quiet, settled confidence in God—even amidst cultural marginalization—lead to gospel conversations?
Do you know people who are suspicious or hostile toward Christianity? How could you serve and love them this week?
God, please help us to find a joy so deep that persecution and marginalization can’t shake it. May you keep and maintain our joy regardless of our circumstances. Teach us to be people who place their hope in You alone.
Mt. 5:10. The purest form of righteousness is pursued by disciples who know that their good deeds will demand great sacrifice and will result in pain rather than immediate reward. This is the epitome of the kingdom righteousness demanded by the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus pronounced that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who suffer for righteousness. In the Greek text, theirs is shifted from its normal position at the end of the clause to the beginning instead. This gives the pronoun a special emphasis indicating that the kingdom belongs to righteous sufferers and to them alone. Those who always endeavor to evade persecution are not true disciples and will not have a share in the kingdom because true disciples follow Jesus even at the cost of their lives (Mt. 16:24-27). The kingdom of heaven is the reign of God in the person of Jesus the Messiah. Righteous sufferers are subjects of God’s rule through their submission to Jesus’ authority. Jesus inaugurated this kingdom during His ministry, but it will be consummated in the end times.
Mt. 5:11-12. Jesus’ words show that persecution is typically either verbal or violent. Verbal forms include insult and slander. The word persecute includes acts of physical violence like the slap of Mt 5:39. Jesus promised that the cost of discipleship will be offset by the enormity of the reward the disciple enjoys in heaven. Jewish leaders rejected and vehemently persecuted the OT prophets, and Jesus repeatedly denounced this persecution (Mt. 21:34-36; 23:29-37). By treating Jesus’ followers in the same way they had treated the prophets, Jewish persecutors unwittingly bestowed on them a prophet’s honor.