Explore the Bible Study: Living As Strangers

12:47 PM


Tim Tebow has quite possibly drawn the most attention in the sports world because of his strong Christian faith. In an interview this summer, Tebow said this: “The only thing that we’re called to brag about is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because he’s the one that did everything for us and he overcame death and hell and everything else, and he’s the reason that we get to stand in victory, because we know him and we love him.” Interesting enough, Tebow’s expressions of faith has also drawn criticism and ridicule as well. Why do people find his expressions of his faith so strange? It is because he is living outside the norm of our culture. He is an outsider, a stranger, a foreigner in a strange land. The Explore the Bible Study: Living as Strangers, makes it clear why Christians like you and I and Tim Tebow are so very different from others and offers us encouragement and direction on how we are to live and survive in this land that seems so foreign.

While I am going to focus primarily on the passages used by Explore the Bible, I recommend you conclude with 1 Peter 2:21-25, emphasizing that Christ is our example regarding how to live in a land that views us as strangers.

Here are additional teaching ideas:

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
  • Display (In Advance): “Tebow Rule”, “Tebowing”
  • Explain (Once most adults enter; Based upon Explore The Bible Extra): Most of you know that Tim Tebow is a football quarterback who played for the University of Florida, winning the Heisman trophy in 2007. He has since played for the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. He has also had a career in broadcasting on the SEC network. He is now pursuing a possible career in baseball, and has just signed a contract to play for the New York Mets.
  • Ask: Has anyone ever heard of these terms related to Tim Tebow? (Refer to the displayed terms.)
  • Explain: Tebow Rule –  In 2010 the NCAA banned messages on eye paint. This rule was dubbed "The Tebow Rule" by media because it would have affected him. During his college football career, he frequently wore references to biblical verses on his eye black. Tebowing – described his practice of kneeling to pray during games.
Optional Illustration:
  • Ask: Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s open season”? It usually refers to the start of hunting season. But there are other times when this term is used to describe a focus of one group attacking another group.
  • State: Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, has said, “We are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of America, and it is open season on Christians. Sin is openly celebrated and flaunted by the highest office in our land. Who would have thought that a football coach would be sanctioned by the state for praying at a high school game or that police officers would face lawsuits for displaying decals with our national motto, ‘In God We Trust’?” Rev. Graham went on to say, “There now exists deep-seated antagonism and hostility toward Christianity in every seat of power in this nation – government, media, courts and education.” [January 2016 issue of Decision Magazine and quoted in an article by Michael W. Chapman, cnsnews.com, January 5, 2016]
  • Discuss: Would you agree with Franklin Graham's assessment? Why or why not?
Transition: We need to realize that the persecution we so often hear about across the world is now residing at our very doorstep. But this is nothing new to the church. The question for those of us who believe is, “How are we to respond to it?" What kind of perspective are we to have toward the place in which we live? 1 Peter, chapter 2 gives us instructions regarding how to answer this question.

LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

1 Peter 2:11
  • State: Peter addresses his readers as Dear friends and he then interjects a phrase to indicate he is going to offer some strong advice: I urge you.
  • Discuss: What can this teach you regarding how to communicate with other believers when discussing how they are to live?
  • Identify: How did Peter describe our relationship to the culture? (strangers and temporary residents)
  • Discuss: If you have traveled to another country or area of our country, what did being a stranger, foreigner, alien, feel like? How did people respond to you? How can knowing that you are only in another country for a short period of time help you cope with the challenges you face?
  • Discuss: How can understanding that this is just a temporary place keep us from giving up when we feel like strangers here because of our faith?
  • What fleshly desires might cause us to pursue acting more like citizens of this world rather than strangers in a foreign land? How might those desires lead us to compromise our faith?
  • What is Peter trying to explain to his readers when he states that fleshly desires war against you?  (You are pressured or tempted to compromise – both by internal and external influences – to make choices that don’t honor God.)
1 Peter 2:12
  • Ask: Do you feel as if believers today compromise in an attempt to be accepted or blend into our culture? Why or why not?
  • Discuss: How does verse 12 describe nonbelievers' view of us? (They will most-likely speak against you.)
Illustration:
  • Chick-Fil-A is a business owned by Christians. Their mission statement is: "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
  • Because the CEO, Dan Cathy, is an outspoken Christian and the company is based upon Christian principles it has received a lot of negative criticism from the world. Because of this they have been ridiculed, persecuted, and attempts have been made to block them from coming to certain areas of the country.
  • Ask: When the LGBT community attempted a boycott, how did Chick-fil-A respond? (They gave out free food to the protesters.) When the mayor of New York called for a boycott of their new stores, how did people respond? (The lines were so long they wrapped around the corners of the stores.)
  • State: Their response was to honor God even when they were being ridiculed. They conducted themselves honorably. Even though they were slanderously accused of hate, their reputation reflected Christ's love for all sinners. The protests, while still abounding, don’t have a leg to stand on regarding their accusations.
Personally Evaluate: The words "conduct yourselves" have to do with lifestyle, a pattern of behavior observable to others. In a word, we are to live honorably (often translated simply “good”). Integrity matters to Christians not only for our own sake but because nonbelievers are watching.
  • Do you spend more time apologizing than determining to live your faith?
  • Do you hide your faith so you won’t face any ridicule?
  • Do you compromise your faith so you can blend in?
  • Do you live your faith in clear view for everyone to see?
  • How do you respond when others criticize your faith? Does your response honor God?
  • Can people who don’t believe, legitimately accuse you of doing wrong, or do your good works demonstrate to them your love for God?
Read: Psalm 39:12
  • State: As Christians we are not to withdraw, hide, compromise or seek to blend in. We are to live a very public Christian life that will point others to Christ. As sojourners through this foreign land there will be times of difficulty, but we can cry out for help knowing that our journey will eventually lead to the land we will call home – Heaven!
1 Peter 2:13-16
  • Discuss: When you see the word "submit," what thoughts or feelings do you have?
  • Explain: In this passage, submit refers to a willing submission rather than coercion. It is used in other New Testament passages to exhort believers to be subject to God, Christ, church leaders, one another, husbands, and masters (See James 4:7; Ephesians 5:21,24; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 3:1; 5:5)
Guide:
  • Why does Peter emphasize this as one of our main responsibilities toward the government?
  • What reason did he give for submitting? (Because of the Lord). Why is this important?
  • How difficult is it for you to fulfill this command?
  • Are there times when we aren’t supposed to submit to governmental authorities? (Obeying God’s Word always takes precedent over human laws when the two collide, even though our general stance is to submit. – See Peters statement in Acts 5:29.)
  • What are the results of following this command? (Silence the ignorance of foolish people; submitting to authorities is one way of doing good. Any false charges will be counteracted. Ignorant people are those who have closed their minds to God. Foolish people are those who willfully oppose God.)
Ask: Have you ever heard the term “jumbo shrimp” or “honest thief” or “deafening silence”?
  • Explain: These are oxymorons. Peter uses this approach to describe believers in these passages – “free slaves.”
  • Ask: Who are we a slave to? (God) When you read this statement about being a slave to God, what questions does it create?
  • How can we be a slave, yet still be free?
  • What are the responsibilities that come with this freedom? (Don’t use it to conceal evil. Don’t pretend to be doing right while actually doing wrong.)
  • How do believers conceal evil, thus abusing the freedom they have in Christ?
1 Peter 2:17

Identify (Consider listing on the markerboard): What are the four commands he gives as his summary?
  • Honor everyone. How can we honor everyone, even those who despise us?
  • Love the brotherhood. How should we express love for brothers and sisters in Christ?
  • Fear God. How do we demonstrate the reverential awe and respect we have for God?
  • Honor the Emperor. How can we honor the civil authorities over us, whether they are kind or cruel, and whether we agree or disagree with them?
Emphasize: We cannot and should not violate our fear of God or our love for fellow believers when seeking to honor civil authorities.

1 Peter 2:18-20

Explain: During this time in history, slavery was legal, yet still very unfair and wrong. But it was a reality for some of the new believers – they were slaves. Because of this, they had little or no opportunity to express grievances or gain a fair hearing. While we might feel like slaves to our jobs, we aren’t in the same situation that these early believers were. Yet, we still need to practice the principles laid out by Peter – we should honor Christ in the workplace by the job we do, the attitudes we have, and the way we treat others, especially those in authority over us.

Discuss:
  • Someone share about the best boss you have ever had. What made him or her a great boss? Was it hard to submit to their leadership and guidance?
  • Someone share about the worst boss you have ever had. What made him or her so difficult? How hard was it to submit to their leadership and guidance?
  • Does this passage indicate any difference in how we are to submit to good bosses versus bad bosses? (No) What is the rationale given in this passage for submitting even when you have a difficult boss? (It brings favor or pleases God.) How does being mindful of God’s will help us understand the suffering?
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
  • Read: 1 Peter 2:21-25
  • Emphasize: Christ is our example! We were called to this. He is our Shepherd and Guardian!
  • Conclude: As Christians we can be tempted to become downtrodden about the worldly choices made by our peers and our government. Sometimes we wonder how we can continue to live for Christ as the morals in our world continue to disintegrate. The situations we face are not new, and as believers we look at them as a stranger would look at a foreign land.
  • Challenge: Make a commitment to silence evil by doing good in your community, in the way that you respond to the government and in your workplace.
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