as Peter sits in jail in Rome, in the early 60’s AD, no doubt he reflects often on his days with Jesus. i bet he still thinks about the times he got it wrong – and the times he got it really right. he got it wrong when he tried to discourage Jesus from suffering for humanity on the cross (see Mark 8). he got it wrong when he denied three times that he even knew Jesus, to avoid his own suffering (see Mark 14).
but when we turn to the book of Acts, we see Peter getting it right. we see him willing to suffer, standing up against the religious and political powers that sought to snuff out the Christian faith before it could even get started. Peter, now confident in his resurrected lord and filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly says things like this: Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? (Acts 4.19) …and this: We must obey God rather than any human authority (Acts 5.29).
Peter had finally learned that a living, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is worth standing up for, even under great pressure.
LISTEN TO THE TALK
in Peter’s first letter, he stresses the issue of suffering for and with Christ – standing up under pressure for what we believe. it’s the dominant theme of the letter. in it, we find 5 reasons to endure pressure when pushed to deny Christ and follow someone other than him.
(click on the CAPS to go to the supporting bible verses)
1. We are willing to suffer because we FOLLOW CHRIST
2. We are willing to suffer because it makes us LIKE CHRIST
3. We are willing to suffer because it joins us TO CHRIST
4. We are willing to suffer because we are promised GLORY WITH CHRIST
5. We are willing to suffer because it might bring someone TO CHRIST
1. with your cellmates this week, share a story from your personal experience when you were put under pressure to deny your lord and not exhibit your faith. how did you do? did you stand firm or did you shrink back? if you stood firm, use this example to encourage others in your group. if you folded, think about how you could have done it differently.
2. what pressure are you facing right now? share the situation with your cell and ask for their prayers. if you want advice, ask for that too.
3. as a cell, read through all the appointed passages for this week. perhaps scan through all of 1st Peter, looking for passages that challenge or encourage you. encourage one another with them. perhaps memorize a verse that speaks to you.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1.6-7 NLT)