John 15:18-27 & Matthew 5:43-48
To be persecuted because of Jesus’ name is to be opposed because our lives reflect His character. Close association with Christ results in suffering the reproach of Christ. Jesus warned His followers to remember that fact and not to be disillusioned when persecution came. Rather, by God’s grace, we are the few people in the world who have the strength to bless the very people who mistreat us.
Read John 15:18-25:
- What does it mean to be “of the world”?
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ teaching in these verses and the result of becoming more and more like Him as we follow Him as His disciples?
- How does our reaction to those who oppose us serve as a testimony for or against Jesus’ power and grace in us?
Read Matthew 5:43-48:
- Why is it so hard to bless those who are opposed to you?
- Do you find in yourself the feeling that there are exceptions to commands like this? For instance, have you ever thought something like, “If Jesus just knew my situation…”
- What are some ways that God has blessed His enemies?
- Can the laughter of an atheist, or the happy marriage of non-believers be attributed to God? If so, what are some other areas of life that give us evidence that God blesses His enemies and gives common grace to mankind?
- How does the truth of the gospel—that while we were still sinners Christ died for us—uniquely position Christians to love those who have done nothing to earn it?
Taking it home:
- This week, what will it look like for you to bless people who have done nothing to deserve your blessing?
- As a group, how can we be image bearers of God as we show love to those who are currently enemies of God?
Other Scriptures to Engage with this week:
1 Peter 1:1-12 • Matthew 24:3-14 • Acts 5:38-42 • Matthew 10 • Romans 5:1-11 • Hebrews 10:32-39.