Here is my second study in John chapter 15, you can find the first one by scrolling down or on the new page I have added to the blog.
John 15v18-6v4 Testify.
In our last study on the opening verses of John 15 we were confronted with Jesus’ challenge to be ready for the pruning that is an essential part of our union with him. He now increases the challenge by preparing us for the inevitable persecution that will accompany all those who follow him. As the full cost of our discipleship is gradually revealed to us, Jesus encourages us that the result of our faithfulness will be the proclamation of the gospel and the perseverance of our faith.
- In Jim’s sermon he mentioned a time when he came face to face with the hatred some people have for Christians, when someone said to him “death will take care of people like you”. Have you ever had a similar experience? What should be our reaction to such experiences? (Mat 5.11)
- What would you say to someone who said “most Christians in the UK would do anything they can to avoid ridicule and rejection” – do you think this is a fair assessment? How can we know if we worship comfort more than Christ?
- In an attempt to make Christianity more appealing some leave out this hard teaching about the cost of following Christ. What happens to our discipleship when we leave out this aspect of the cost? How can we help those who have lost this understanding?
- “When the revelation of God is made it will evoke a reaction” – why do some people respond with hatred when they don’t know anything about us personally? What reaction are we evoking in daily lives? How can we balance this expectation of rejection with Proverbs 16.7?
- What is our responsibility in the face of persecution (1 Peter 4.14-16)? What is our confidence (Mat 10.19-20, Rom 8.35-38)? Share an encouragement of how you have grown through testing.
- In Acts 9.5 Jesus is effectively saying “if they are persecuting you, they are persecuting me”. Why does God allow his son to be persecuted? Would God ever deliberately lead us into persecution (Acts 20.22-24)? How does this challenge a shallow understanding of God’s love?
- If the message of suffering is not what people want to hear, and if the cost is so great, why does the church grow so quickly in times of persecution? Do we generally make it too easy or too hard for people to become Christians in our presentation of the gospel? What is our confidence in saying these hard truths to those outside the faith?
Even though we know the truth of these passages, the reality is that we are often far from living this way in our outlook on life. Why is this? Take a moment to reflect on the full cost of following Christ and ask God that he would give us all the strength to withstand persecution when we are tested.
Father would you break us and free us from our love of comfort and enable us to give our lives as sacrificial offerings for your purposes, whatever they may be. For Jesus’ sake, Amen