Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson.
1. When have you or someone you know been out of favor with others because of choosing the harder, ethical right over the easier, sinful wrong?
2. Have you or someone you know experienced suffering, or been passed over or left out simply because of faith in Jesus?
Read 1 Peter 3:8-17
1. Discuss ways you or someone you know responded to evil or insult from another Christian in the past. Did a blessing come from the situation, or only collateral damage? In light of the Scripture passage, why do you suppose the result ended one way or the other?
2. Based on verses 9-12, talk about various practical ways to respond to difficult challenges and strive toward peace with other believers. (Most of these come from King David in Psalm 34!)
3. Others notice when conflict happens, especially when it’s within a church community, and want to know more about it. Based on verses 15, 16, come up with a solid, godly template for replying to others in these often complex and difficult times.
4. When we’ve been wounded, we’re often tempted to respond in a worldly way if we don’t know the tenets of Christian conflict resolution. Read 1 Peter 4:1-11, concentrating on 7-11. Delve deeply into how individual actions through prayer, love, and serving one another can bring about praise for Christ even in the midst of strife among believers.
Read 1 Peter 4:12-16
5. What place of suffering are you or someone you know in right now? Examine the passage to explain why we should not be surprised by trials and hardships.
6. Based on verses 13, 14, explain why Christians should rejoice in persecution for our faith.
7. Peter understood suffering and persecution. Read 1 Peter 4:17-19 and imagine the apostle writing, knowing his acknowledgement of Christ as Messiah started his leadership path and ultimately resulted in his martyrdom. Discuss how verse 19 holds the key to staying the course of right behavior in times of suffering and resolve to use it as your pattern for suffering in the future.
Conclude your group time with prayer, using the following as a guide.
Father, thank you for this good teaching that helps Christians do what is right even in the face of suffering and trials. Jesus, thank you for being our ultimate role model by making peace for us through the cross. Holy Spirit, enable us to be self-controlled and alert, always in prayer, and standing firm in faith in the face of suffering. Amen.