Welcome! Today in our C.R.S lesson, we will be looking at “Christians And Persecution”. Do have a great moment studying with us.
Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Topic: The Christians And Persecution ( 1 Peter 1:3-17, 4:12-19 )
Learning Objectives: By the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:
- Explain how persecution and suffering are part of the effects of witnessing for Christ.
- Explain how Christ was also persecuted.
- Recognise that suffering strengthens the faith of Christians and is part of the cross which Christians must bear.
- Recognise and describe the right Christian attitude to persecution and how some Christians are being persecuted in some parts of Nigeria.
Persecution is an act of molesting a person or group of people. It involves harassment, intimidation, oppression, incarceration and physical assault which may lead to the death of the victims. Persecution may come as a result of one’s religious or political belief. In the case of Christianity, which is our main focus, persecution comes as a result of the Christians’ faith, determination, boldness, and full commitment to the service of God. They were particularly hated as a result of their uncompromising attitude and unwillingness to yield to worldly passion which they saw as dangerous to their spiritual growth. For this reason, they were hunted all over.
Christian persecution is not a new phenomenon, Jesus Christ – the basis of Christian faith – passed through a lot of suffering and persecution during his earthly ministry. He knew it was the same fate that was going to befall his followers.
Christianity involves self-denial, suffering and persecution. It is only those who are determined and fully committed that can succeed. This was the reason Christ warned the disciples that “No one who puts his hands to the plough and looks back is set for the kingdom of God”.
Early Christians suffered persecutions from both the Jews and their Roman ‘over Lords’. The persecution was so serious that some of them were killed. The case of Stephen who was stoned to death and James who was killed by Herod readily comes to mind. Even when Christianity spread to other parts of the world, the story was still the same. In Nigeria, most of those who embraced Christianity at the early stage were ostracized in their community. It was against this background of persecution that St. Peter wrote his epistle, urging Christians to persevere when facing opposition and admonishing them on the right attitude to adopt.
ST. PETERS’ TEACHING ON CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
( 1 Peter 1:3-17, 4:12-19 )
St. Peter acknowledged the fact that Christians may have to suffer various trials to test the genesis of their faith. As gold passes through fire to be refined, so also is persecution to Christians, for their endurance would qualify them for honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. St. Peter advised Christians to rejoice in the face of their persecutions because without seeing Christ, they love him, without seeing him, they believe in him. The outcome of their faith would make them obtain salvation of their souls.
According to St. Peter, the prophets of old who predicted the suffering of Jesus Christ also spoke of his glory that was to come after the suffering. This is the goodnews of the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is now being preached. Therefore, Christians who are suffering, passing through persecution are to live soberly and set their hope on the grace that would be theirs at the second coming of Christ. Peter said: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passion of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conducts Since it is written, you shall be holy for I am holy.” ( 1 Peter 1:14-16 )
THE REWARD FOR CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
St. Peter advised Christians who are facing persecution to rejoice, for they are sharing in the suffering of Christ, and they would also rejoice with him in his glory. If they are reproached for Jesus’ sake, they are blessed because the spirit of God’s glory is upon them.
Peter warned Christians not to suffer as murderers, thieves, wrongdoers or mischief makers. However, if any Christian should suffer persecution, he should not be ashamed. Instead, he should glorify God while suffering for the sake of Christ. Judgement, according to Peter would start with the household of God and if this is the case, what would be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Peter concluded that those who suffer persecution innocently or according to God’s will should continue to do what is right and entrust their souls to God.
VIRTUES CHRISTIANS SHOULD MANIFEST TO SHOW THEIR JOY
- They should not conform to canal desires of men of the world. They should remain sober and hopeful of the glory and salvation that would be theirs when Jesus would be revealed by His second coming.
- The fear of God should be their watchword because God is an impartial judge.
- They should remain forever in their Christian faith, unshaken by any wind of persecution, the affliction of the enemy or Satan the devil.
- They should always praise God in time of sadness and joy.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
1.”As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance.” This statement in 1 Peter implies (a. Holiness (b. Alertness of mind (c. Kindness (d. Cleanliness (e. Soberness
2. Which of the following is not expected of a Christian sufferer? (a. He should rejoice (b. He should suffer innocently (c. He should be ashamed of Christ (d. He should glorify God while suffering (e. He should share Christ’s sufferings
3. When Peter described the suffering of the Christians as a fiery ordeal, he meant all the following except that it (a. Is a characteristic of Christian life in the world. (b. Test the reality of the Christian faith (c. Is sharing in Christ’s suffering (d. Is a reason for joy (e. Is something a Christian must struggle to attain
4.”If one suffers as Christians, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.” This statement by Peter signifies (a. Suffering for the Christian faith (b. Persecution of the Christians for offences committed (c. Suffering for the sins of others (d. Submission to persecution (e. Suffering that leads to death
5. Peter urged all Christians to endure suffering in faith, they should be conscious of the fact that (a. Jesus himself also resisted suffering (b. Only the physical body is affected (c. Suffering is temporary and leads to eternal glory (d. The world is full of suffering (e. The devil can lure them from faith)
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