For an explanation of what this post is, see “The ‘How’ and ‘What’ of 1 Peter pt. 1.” It should also be mentioned that this blog post may seem shorter than the other two in the series so far. This is because we left time for certain adults to share their testimonies at the end of this particular youth group as it fit well with that night’s lesson.
Thinking About Heart-Level Understanding (youth group lesson transcript taught on 10.16.19)
We are back at it again within our series on the ‘What’ and the ‘How’ of 1 Peter. That is, we have been talking about both the content of this New Testament letter but also looking at how to read and understand the Bible for ourselves.
And last week, if you remember, we talked all about how to find and understand the historical and cultural background behind biblical books. When we know what’s going on in the background, it really helps us to understand what we are reading. But we also talked about how, when it comes to reading the Bible, we can very easily get wrapped up in learning about the Bible, God, and Jesus, but never really take it to the next step by applying it to our lives. That is, we can learn a lot of head-knowledge from scripture but it’s the heart-knowledge that really counts.
So, that’s what I want us to focus on tonight: heart-knowledge.
Because while it is true that when we read the Bible, it is like we are reading somebody else’s mail. But that mail was also indirectly written for us too. God wants and expects us to grow from these books as believers.
Here’s what we are going to do. I first want to read out our scripture section in full. Then, I want us to break up into small groups to talk about these passages on a deeper heart-level. Sound good? (The small group questions and answer are provided below)
Read: 1 Peter 2:11-17
Small Group Discussion
1. Read 1 Peter 2:11-12. In a lot of places in 1 Peter, including the section we just read, Peter refers to his readers as “exiles” or “aliens.” Why might that be?
Peter, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples turned church leader within the Jerusalem church, is writing to a bunch of churches during a time in history that many call the Jewish Diaspora.
A few decades after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, both the early church and the Jewish people began to face really crazy persecution under the Roman government. Think forced gladiator fights, lions ripping people apart limb-from-limb, intentional house burning, false accusations, and stuff like that. And eventually, most of the Jews and Christians left Jerusalem and began to settle in different surrounding cities and countries like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These are all areas in or near what we understand to be the modern-day country of Turkey.
Peter uses the words “exile” and “alien” for that reason. These believers were forced to live in a city that was not their own. They had been cast out. They have been forced to leave their hometown. They’re now elsewhere and probably really homesick and might even be feeling a bit hopeless because of all of the suffering and persecution.
2. Are we like “aliens” or “exiles” as believers now? If so, how?
We live in a world that is not our home, ultimately. We live here on earth now, but because of Jesus, we who believe now belong to another one. So, we are “aliens” and “exiles” too.
3. Are you more comfortable fitting in with those around you? Or are you willing to stand out (as a follower of Christ)?
4. What might Peter be talking about when he said to “abstain from the passions of the flesh?” Are there any sinful desires that you are facing now which are “waging war against your soul?”
5. What type of good deeds could we do so that others would know that we are Christian? Have you ever shared your faith with someone else, either through actions or words?
6. Read 1 Peter 2:13-17. In these verses, Peter talks a bit about honoring the both emperor and showing proper respect to everyone. What might that look like today? Why do you think they were told to do this?
Those early believers in the first century A.D had the entire Roman world against them. They were blamed for all kinds of disasters in Jerusalem. But when they moved away into different cities, things did not get much better for them. Everywhere they went, rumors followed. In a lot of people’s minds, ‘Christian’ equaled ‘evildoer.’ But Peter was hoping that those he was writing to could break that cycle.
As believers today, we too are aliens and exiles. We too are living in a place not our home, and we also have been called to do good deeds in the world so that others might recognize Christ and learn to call Him Lord.
So, my challenge for you all this week is this: Read 1 Peter 3:8-4:17 for next week. But also look out for ways that you could be a witness for Jesus to others, and if you feel God leading you to do so, don’t hesitate to act.