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Blessed are

the Peacemakers

Joint Project for Sunday School Materials


Jos, Nigeria
Blessed
are the
Peacemakers

Joint Project for Sunday School Materials


Jos, Nigeria
Blessed Are the Peacemakers — SAMPLE
Joint Project for Sunday School Materials
Jos, Nigeria

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Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®,


NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by
permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
www.zondervan.com
Contents

Introduction 3
Using this Book 4
Lesson 1: Our People 6
Lesson 2: Our Kingdom 9
Lesson 3: Kingdom Principles 1 11
Lesson 4: Kingdom Principles 2 13
Lesson 5: Suffering 15
Lesson 6: Persecuted for Righteousness 17
Lesson 7: Responding to Persecution 19
Lesson 8: Turn the Other Cheek or Take the Sword? 21
Story: Shining Like a Star in the Darkness 24
Lesson 9: Responding to Injustice 26
Notes on Becoming Peacemakers 28
Lesson 10: Being Honest to God with our Feelings 29
Lesson 11: Freedom through Forgiveness 31
Lesson 12: In a Fish and Under a Vine 33
Appendix A: How We Forgive 36
Appendix B: Resources 38
Appendix C: Citizens of One Great Nation 41
Appendix D: Leaders’ Guide 43

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica,
Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

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Blessed are the Peacemakers — Introduction

We live in a world of conflict. People long for peace, but it is hard to find. There are
wars large and small across the globe. Terrorism makes us fear for what will happen
next. Armed robbers and kidnappers threaten us even in our homes. There is other
conflict between people, apart from violence. There is anger, hurt, and even hatred
within communities, churches, and families. What is our hope?

These Bible studies take a long, deep look at how God’s people are to think and act
in a world of conflict. At first, we intended to write just a few lessons about how
Christians should forgive others and be peacemakers. Along the way, however, we
realized that the issues go much deeper. Forgiveness and peacemaking are not
things we can simply tell anyone to do. Rather, they flow out of an understanding of
who we are as people of the Kingdom of God, disciples of the ultimate Forgiver and
Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. We forgive not simply because God commands us, but
because we know we have been forgiven. Nor do we make peace by our own
strength and determination. It is the Spirit who works in our hearts, transforming us
from inside out, giving us the mind of Christ.

Since forgiveness and peacemaking flow from who we are in Christ, that is where
we must begin. We will look first at God’s plan in choosing a special people, then at
the Kingdom of God that was the center of Jesus’ message. From there, we will
move on to look more specifically at suffering, persecution, and injustice, asking
how we should respond to those problems.

Whether you are involved as a leader or a student, you need to see these studies
not as just some more facts to learn about the Bible, but as a challenge to grow in
your life. We pray that your life will be changed as you listen to God’s Word with
your whole heart.
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Before We Begin ...
How to get the most out of these lessons

To help you as a leader or participant as you discuss the material. If you are
to get the most out of this series thinking “that sounds good, but I could
of lessons. never do it myself,” then it is likely that
others are thinking the same way.
Here are a few suggestions to help you as If something seems too difficult to put
you begin these studies. into practice, then talk about that frankly.
We know that each situation is unique. You It takes time and effort to learn how to do
might be starting the studies in a church and not just to say what is right. Each
group of 100 people, in a home study with leader and member should be careful to
four or five friends, or even by yourself. You or respect others’ questions and comments,
your group may already have a good and give time for others to talk about their
understanding of much of this material. On issues.
the other hand, you may be quite new to the It is most helpful if every member (or
faith or not yet sure that you are a Christian. couple) has their own copy of the book.
That is fine: the crowds that Jesus taught This allows everyone to review as needed
included everyone from professors, rulers, and to prepare for the next lesson. It also
and doctors, to fishermen, farmers, parents, means that everyone will have the material
and children. for future reference—it is not something to
Clearly, it is not possible to fully explore learn and forget!
the topics in these few lessons! However, we
Each lesson includes a memory verse as
want to give you a foundation and point you to
well as the passage for the next week.
the Word of God so you can continue to grow
Learning the verse and reading the passage
in character and understanding.
ahead of time will encourage your growth!
In light of all this, here are some practical
suggestions: Be sure to look in the back of this book
(after the last lesson) to see more
Much of the material is easy to understand
resources!
with our minds, but not with our hearts.
For example, it is easy to understand the Leaders
idea of loving our enemies, but it is not
Take time to pray and prepare carefully.
enough for the teacher to just say, “Jesus
This may take considerable time so do not
says we should love our enemies. Do you all
wait until the last minute!
agree?” Jesus did say that, and our minds
may agree, but what do our hearts say The lesson Aim is mainly to help you
when we struggle with the realities of what prepare, and does not necessarily need to
it means to love our enemies? It is very be read to the group, though you may want
important to think, feel, and be honest to use it that way.

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The Introduction gives background understand how to apply what has been
material for the study in the form of discussed, as well as to pray over the main
explanation or an illustration. This is teaching so it can take root in our lives.
intended to be read to the class by you or a The Leaders’ Guide in the back of this
class member. Sometimes there are also book gives suggested answers to some but
questions for brief discussion. not all questions and has more material on
The Discussion Questions give the some topics.
group a chance to look in some depth at the You may need to adjust the timing for some
various Bible passages. It is the leader’s lessons according to your needs.
responsibility to encourage all the Depending on how much time you have
members to take part in finding and available, and how much the class
discussing the answers to the questions— participates, you may need to use more
the leader should not provide the answers than one session for some lessons. It is
during the discussion. better to take time to truly interact with
Bible references are given to help guide some of the material than to deal quickly
the discussion, but just quoting the verse is with every point.
not an adequate answer. The Scripture If a study is too long for the time
needs to be understood and expressed in available, the leader and group together
everyday words. can decide to:
Small groups usually work best with 4–6 cover some questions briefly or not at
members. Depending on your situation, it all or
might be helpful for you as a leader to take time to complete the study the
assign people to groups so that each group following week.
includes someone able to read, find verses
in the Bible, encourage discussion, and so
on.
The Teaching Summary covers the
main points that are expected to be
brought out by the discussion. You may
want first to collect answers from the
members or group representatives and
write them on a whiteboard, blackboard, or
flip chart rather than simply using the
summary. In any case, be sure to include
interaction with the group and not just
read the summary.
The Application helps members think of
specific actions to take related to the Be sure to encourage discussion and
lesson. It is important that everyone openness in the groups!

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Our People ss o
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Revelation 5:9–10 1
In this study, we want to look at the big
Introduction 5 minutes
question of who we are as the people of
To understand who we are in Christ God.
and that our unity in the family
of God is far more than any Discussion Questions 10 minutes
earthly ties can ever be. Discuss in small groups:
A cartoon shows someone applying for 1. Who are you? Pretend you are in a
employment, with the boss asking, “What is meeting where no one knows you at all. In
your tribe?” Is tribalism a problem or a half a minute or less, tell who you are in
blessing in our country? Is it both? How does terms of what is most important about you.
loyalty to one’s tribe fit with loyalty to one’s 2. Read Genesis 12:1–3. Here, God made
country? With loyalty to God? To the Church, several promises as He called Abraham.
the body of Christ? These promises form the foundation of
These are difficult questions and not what God intended as He made a special
everyone will come to the same answer. But people. What are the promises? What was
tribalism is simply one side of the larger issue promised to the “great nation”? What was
of identity (who we are), including subjects promised through the nation?
like:
Who am I? (A parent, a spouse, a member Teaching Points 5 minutes
of my community, church and tribe, a When God called Abraham, He promised to
friend, a citizen of my country, a make from him a “great nation” or people.
professional, a worker, etc.) They were to be specially blessed by God, and
Where are my strongest loyalties? in turn were to be a blessing to all the people
Who can I depend on—who is loyal to me? of the earth. All through the Old Testament,
Who do I want to or need to be like? Who we see God teaching His people about
helps me feel strong in what I am? Himself, and how reflect His characteristics
Who or what threatens what I am? such as love, faithfulness,
It would be a wonderful world, would it not, if and holiness.
everyone were loyal to everyone else, making
them feel welcome as they were, without
conflict or threat. However, the world is not
like that.

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Much of the Old Testament shows Israel’s 5. Can we be Christians while not loving our
struggle to become and remain set apart for brothers and sisters who are different from
God, different from the people around it. us?
Israel had to defend itself not only from the
armies of neighboring nations but also from Teaching Points 5 minutes
their ungodly worship and ways.
Through the work of Jesus, God has extended
Sometimes, though, we do see the “great
His people from one group, the children of
nation” Israel blessing other nations. One
Abraham, to include people of the whole
example is when God used Jonah to save a
earth, of every language, ethnic group, and
large city from destruction. Another is the
nation. As Christians, we are first citizens of
story of Elijah and Namaan, the enemy Syrian
the Kingdom of Heaven and members of the
general (2 Kings 5). Naaman was not only
Body of Christ. Are we still members of other
healed of leprosy, but also realized that God
groups, with other loyalties, such as tribe and
was the true God. He took this knowledge
country? Yes, but they cannot stand above or
back to Syria with him.
alongside our loyalty as one body in Christ.
Finally, with the appearance of Jesus, we
For example, the apostle Paul says there is
see the full blessings of God poured out
neither slave nor free, male nor female (Gal.
through Israel onto the whole world.
3:28). Elsewhere, however, he gives
instructions to those distinct groups. In other
Discussion Questions 20 minutes words, while people are still slaves or free,
When Jesus brought the new covenant male or female, Paul is saying that our
through His death and resurrection, He
opened the door for others to join God’s
special people, the “great nation.”
Read these passages, then use them to
answer the questions below. More references
are given in Appendix C. John 17:22–23;
Galatians 3:27–29; Ephesians 3:6; Phil. 3:20;
James 2:8–9; Rev. 5:9.
1. As Christians, how do we fit into God’s
“great nation”?
2. Where is our homeland, our citizenship?
3. What do language, ethnic group, and tribe
have to do with our new identity as God’s
people?
4. What does our sex—male or female—have
to do with our new identity in Christ?

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oneness in Christ overcomes all those the hope we have now as citizens of an
differences. eternal kingdom.
Another very clear point is that God wants Confess ways that you have failed to act
all of us to be united in mind and spirit. He in love and unity with other believers.
wants us to serve, love, and care for each other Ask God to help you learn new ways of
without looking at divisions among us (James living as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
2:1–10).
Jesus Himself prayed that we would be Before Next Week
united. Paul calls for unity in the Church and Read: Matthew chapter 5.
rebukes those who are causing divisions. The
Memory verse: Galatians 3:28.
apostle John says repeatedly that anyone who
does not love his brother (fellow believer) is
not a child of God and not walking in the light Here there is
(for example, see 1 John 3:14–15). James
condemns those who show favoritism to the no Hausa or Yoruba,
rich, saying that this is actually a sin, a no Hutu or Tutsi,
violation of God’s law.
Today we have looked at how we are united no Kikuyu or Luo,
as the family of God. In some future lessons,
no white or black,
we will also look at how we relate to people
who are not part of that family, and who may no Zulu or Xhosa,
be hostile to us.
no herder or farmer,
Application & Prayer 15 minutes no slave or free,
Discuss in small groups: but Christ is all,
1. What things cause divisions in your church
and community? Tribe? Age? Sex? Money? and is in all.
Language? Power? Politics? Other? Therefore, as God’s chosen
2. How do these divisions compete with your
loyalty and unity as God’s people? How do people, holy and dearly
they contribute to a beautiful diversity? loved, clothe yourselves with
3. What actions do you want to take, as an
individual or as a group, as a result of this
compassion, kindness,
lesson? humility, gentleness and
Prayer patience.
Thank God for all He has done to make
us His special people. Thank Him for Based on Colossians 3:11, 12

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Our Kingdom ss o
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Matthew 5 2

Introduction 5 minutes Discussion Questions 10 min


To understand the Kingdom we Teacher note: The Leaders’ Guide starting on page
belong to, the Kingdom of God. 43 gives answers to some of the discussion
questions throughout the book.
To appreciate who belongs in it,
how we can enter it, and what its 1. Is the Kingdom of God something in the
rewards are. future, yet to come? (Luke 19:11, 22:18).
2. Is the Kingdom of God something in the
Last week, we saw how God created the nation present, already here? (Matt. 11:12, 12:28;
Israel to be a people set apart for Him. He Luke 9:62, Luke 17:20–21).
gave them special blessings and wanted them
to be a blessing to all the people of the earth. Teaching Points 10 minutes
That plan continued as God, through Jesus,
Teacher note: The Scripture references in
established the Church. Though Israel was a Teaching Points are for your use. You do not
single nation with its own language and laws, necessarily need to read them all to the group.
the Church includes people of all nations,
From the verses you have just read, you can
tribes and languages. They are all brought
see several things about the Kingdom of God.
together into one new people, the people of
God. The Kingdom is already here. It is “at
Since we are God’s people, He is our King. hand,” “it has come upon you.” Already
Our loyalty is to Him. His purposes are ours. God’s character is being shown, and His
We are His light shining in the world (Matt. will done, first through Jesus, then through
5:14). God is our King, and we are citizens of those who follow Him and are born again
His Kingdom. The word “Kingdom” does not by His Spirit.
refer to a place such as a country. It means The complete and perfect Kingdom is
everything that is under the rule of God, still in the future. Someday God’s perfect
everyone who is loyal to God as the King. justice and love will be the only law, the
Some people think of the Kingdom of God only way. Every kind of evil and opposition
only as a way of talking about heaven, a future to God will be finished. Until then, the
place separate from this world. Is that Kingdom of God and the enemies of God
accurate? There are some 78 verses in the are in the world together (Matt. 13:24–30,
Gospels where Jesus used the words 36–43 [Parable of the Weeds]; Rev. 21:1–
“Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven.” 4).
Many of His parables and other teachings The parables of the faithful servant (Luke
were devoted to the subject, so let us examine 12:35–48), the ten coins (Luke 19:11–26),
what He said. and the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13) show

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us that the King’s servants must continue make any sacrifices to be part of it. The rich
His work faithfully, even though the King young man in Luke 18:18–25 is an
may not always be visibly present. The example. Is it worthwhile to make such
servants will be rewarded accordingly when sacrifices? If so, how much sacrifice is
He appears. reasonable? (Matt. 13:44–45, 19:29; Rev.
God had to deal with our sin before we 22:12)
could enter His Kingdom. Our sinful nature
makes it impossible for us to do His will, Application & Prayer 20 minutes
and our sin made us destined for Form small groups and assign one question to
destruction. God sent His Son to rescue us each group to help summarize today’s lesson.
from this condemnation through His If there are enough groups, more than one
obedience and death on the cross (Rom. group can discuss a question. Each group will
4:25, 8:1–4; Phil. 2:8). work together to find an answer in one or
It is only through repentance (turning back two sentences only to their question. Work
to God) and trust in Jesus as the way of for 10 minutes as groups, then let each group
salvation that we can be cleansed from our report its answer to the whole class.
sins and be able to enter God’s Kingdom 1. What is the Kingdom of God?
(Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9).
2. Who are the citizens of the Kingdom of
God?
Discussion Questions 15 minutes
3. How does one enter the Kingdom of God?
“I’m a Christian,” William said, “I believe in
4. What things prevent people from entering?
God and Jesus, and some day I plan to be
more serious about following God. Right now, 5. Can we divide our loyalty between God and
I have my life to live. I want to have a good others? Explain.
time, enjoy the world, live a fun life. Later, I 6. What things might we need to sacrifice for
will get religious and be forgiven.” the Kingdom? Is the sacrifice worthwhile?
Jesus spoke a lot about the choice we Explain.
must make between the world and the Prayer
Kingdom. Discuss these questions in your
Pray all together as a group, allowing
groups.
everyone to talk to God about what is on
1. Who is entering the Kingdom of God and their heart as a result of the lesson.
who is not entering? (Matt. 21:31; Mark
10:14; John 3:3–6). Before Next Week
2. What do you think of William’s plan above?
Read: Matthew 5:1–16
How do these verses apply? (Matt. 6:24;
7:21–23; Rev. 3:15–16). Memory Verse: John 3:5–7
3. Jesus often met people who were interested
in the Kingdom but were not willing to

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Kingdom Principles 1 ss o
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Matthew 5:1–16 3

Introduction 5 minutes Jesus spent much time explaining how


different the Kingdom of God was. In the
To begin looking at the principles of Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapters 5
the Kingdom of God and how to 7, Jesus describes the basic principles of
they are different from the God’s Kingdom.
kingdom of this world. The first verses of the sermon are called the
Beatitudes (“blessedness”) because Jesus tells
The two thieves were trapped. They had
who will be truly blessed in His kingdom. In a
broken into the house through the ceiling and
way, the Beatitudes are like a brief outline of
had gathered money and goods while the
all the principles of the Kingdom.
owners slept. However, they could not escape
because the door was locked and there was no Discussion 20 minutes
key in it. They had to wake the family and
How does the quality compare with the
demand that they open the door. There was
ways of the world? For example, Jesus said
fear and tension as the key was found and
the humble are blessed, while the world
brought, but then one thief said, “Don’t worry.
admires those with position and power.
You are Christians, right? We are Christians,
too, so we won’t hurt you.” 1. Blessed are the poor in spirit. “Poor in
This true story from Nigeria reminds us spirit” means “humble,” accepting a low
that many people call themselves Christians position rather than fighting for high
but are not citizens of the Kingdom of God position and honor. It also reminds us of
because they do not accept God as their King God’s special concern for those who have
and Master. They may attend church, they little in this world (Isa. 11:4; Matt. 18:4;
may sing in the choir, they may even be James 1:27, 4:10).
deacons or elders, but they are refusing to How did Jesus show this quality?
follow Christ in the way of obedience. How is this different than what the
When Jesus began teaching people about world values?
the Kingdom of God, He had to explain again 2. Blessed are those who mourn. This
and again how His Kingdom was different statement talks about people who mourn
from the kingdoms of this world and from because of their sin. It also reminds us of
what people expected. They expected a God’s concern for people’s suffering (Matt.
powerful ruler who would free them from the 14:14; 2 Cor. 7:10–11).
Romans and make Israel a powerful,
How did Jesus show this quality?
prosperous nation. Doubtless many people
How is this different than what the
looked forward to having revenge on those
world values?
who had oppressed them.

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3. Blessed are the meek. The meek do not show humility. You could show the
are patient and gentle when others reaction of worldly people when they
insult or hurt them, encounter someone who is truly meek. These
submit without bitterness to those in are just ideas … you should use your
authority, imaginations.
turn away from violence and revenge. Plan your time carefully so that each group
will be able to perform their drama before the
(Matt. 5:38–45; 1 Peter 2:21–23).
end of class. That means you should not spend
How did Jesus show this quality? too much time planning and your dramas
How is this different than what the should not be too long. The leader should help
world values? you organize the timing. Be sure to leave some
4. Blessed are those who hunger and time for prayer.
thirst for righteousness. What is
Prayer
righteousness? What does it mean to
hunger and thirst for it? “Righteousness” Take a few minutes to pray silently,
includes right living, right actions, right asking God to work in your heart about
attitudes. It is the opposite of sin. The same your place in the Kingdom.
word also means “justice.” Do you know whether you are in the
Can we be content with sin and injustice Kingdom of God? Have you prayed to
in ourselves or others? (Matt. 5:48; Gal. ask God’s forgiveness, believing in the
5:19–23). death and resurrection of Jesus as the
Can we just say, “God will forgive me”, way of salvation? Have you turned away
without hungering and thirsting from your own sinful ways and made
for what is right? (Rom. 14:17; Jesus your Lord and Master? If not, then
2 Peter 1:5–7). you can do so now in this prayer time.
Pray about each of the first four
Application & Prayer 35 minutes Beatitudes, asking God to help us
understand them and give us strength
Divide into groups. Each group should take and willingness to put them into
one of the Beatitudes above and make a drama practice through His Spirit working in
to present to the class. The drama can be us.
acted out or can be a “radio drama” with voice
only. Everyone should participate in planning Before Next Week
the drama, even if not everyone can act in it.
Your drama should communicate Read: Matthew 5:17–48.
something about your Beatitude worked out in Memory Verse: Matthew 5:3–6.
the present day. For example, you might show
what it would mean for someone in your
community to hunger for righteousness. You
could demonstrate how several people do or

12
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Kingdom Principles 2 ss o
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Matthew 5:1–16 4

Introduction 5 minutes 1. Blessed are the merciful. We are


merciful when we see someone suffering or
To understand what it means to be in need, and
merciful, pure in heart, and
we feel compassion; we feel with them;
peacemakers; to consider how
we feel their suffering and
to put these into practice.
we do something to help them.
Today we will continue looking at the This can include the caring for the needy,
Beatitudes, where Jesus describes the basic visiting the sick, and feeding the hungry,
principles of the Kingdom of God. for example. It also includes forgiveness, as
shown in the parable of the unmerciful
Last week, we looked at the very beginning of
servant in Matthew 18:21–35. (Mark 6:34;
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We saw that
Eph. 4:32; James 2:12–13).
Jesus was teaching people what the Kingdom
of God is all about, explaining how it is 2. Blessed are the pure in heart. “Pure”
different from the kingdoms of this world. The here has two main meanings:
Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 describe the completely clean, spotless, free from any
characteristics of people who are blessed in dirt or stain of sin;
God’s kingdom. having motives, purposes, and desires
Last week we studied the first four of these: that are God-directed and unmixed
Blessed are the poor in spirit. with anything else. “Pure” means “100%,
Blessed are those who mourn. nothing else added.”
Blessed are the meek. (Psalm 24:3–4; Matt. 6:24; 2 Cor. 11:3;
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for 1 Jn. 3:3).
righteousness. 3. Blessed are the peacemakers. God’s
Today we will examine the remaining four of Kingdom is one of peace. Peace includes
these key qualities in the lives of God’s people. the absence of conflict and fighting, but it
also includes the positive blessings of unity
Teaching Points 30 minutes and blessing that God has for His people.
Peacemakers are people who actively
Before discussing the verses below, take some
make peace, not just those who live
time in your group and review what you
peaceful lives. Peacemaking includes:
learned last week. During the week, have you
had a chance to see or live out any of the bringing to others the message of peace
qualities we studied? Did God speak to you with God—the gospel;
about any areas where you need help to
change?

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working for peace, reconciliation and shine brightly through us, driving away
unity among people, especially within darkness.
the Church. 6. We are “salty” to the world because we are
(Isa. 9:6–7; Acts 10:36; James 3:18). different, showing that there is another
4. Blessed are those who are perse- way. What did Jesus mean about salt losing
cuted because of righteousness. Just its saltiness and becoming useless?
as the world, including religious leaders, 7. What do these verses show about our being
persecuted the prophets and Jesus, so we “salt and light”? (2 Cor. 4:4–6; Eph. 5:8–
can expect the world to persecute us if we 14; 1 Peter 2:12).
are living as citizens of God’s Kingdom.
Being persecuted does not mean that Application & Prayer 25 minutes
we are somehow failing, but that the world
Do the same as last week: each group
is opposed to God’s truth. However, we
develop a drama from one point in today’s
must remember that this verse talks about
lesson and present it to the group. Watch your
being persecuted because of righteous-
time!
ness. It is not talking about persecution
because we are unpleasant, angry, abusive, Prayer
or otherwise offensive to others. (Jn. 15:18 Take a few minutes to pray silently, asking
–20; 1 Thes. 3:4; 2 Tim. 3:12). God to work in your heart about your place
5. Salt & Light: Remember from the first in the Kingdom.
lesson that God’s plan was not only to bless Pray about being merciful, having a 100%
His people but to make them a blessing to focus on God and His Kingdom, and being
the whole earth. This is still His plan peacemakers.
through His Kingdom people. He has not Pray that God will help you respond in the
saved us simply to bless a few, but to bring right way when people abuse or persecute
to everyone His gospel (good news) of you because of your faith and godly life.
salvation and the Kingdom.
Ask God to show you how He wants you to
Salt gives flavor, preserves food, and
be salt and light for Him right where you
can cleanse. Prof. Danny McCain says,
live.
“One of the important ways God uses His
people today is simply to put them in the
midst of other people and allow them to
Before Next Week
give flavor, cleansing and preservation.” Read: James 1:1–15; James 5:7–16
Light drives out darkness. In fact, it is Memory Verse: Matthew 5:7–10
useful only in the darkness: no one needs a
candle in the sunlight. God sends His
people to shine in the darkness of the
world’s sin. There the light of His truth can

14
n
Suffering ss o
Le
James 1:1–16 5

Introduction 10 minutes study of God’s Word will show that God has
many purposes for suffering. Learning the
To understand the place of suffering truth will help us approach our troubles with
in our lives as believers; to
proper attitudes.
know how we should react to
our own suffering and that of others. Discussion Questions 25 minutes
Do righteous, godly people ever suffer? When 1. For each verse or group of verses below, try
Jesus took all our sin on the cross, did He also to find a theme that helps explain the
take all our suffering so that we should reasons believers suffer. Someone in each
never be ill, sad, or in pain? Many group should write a one-sentence
Christians are asking these questions answer for each point.
today. a) 2 Sam. 12:13-18 (David after
Let’s look at some of our beliefs committing adultery with Bath-
about suffering as believers. What sheba); Acts 5:1–5; 1 Cor. 11:29–
do you believe about these 30.
statements? Discuss them briefly. b) 2 Cor. 4:7–11.
“If we are living godly lives in c) 2 Cor. 11:27–29.
God’s will, we will be blessed d) 2 Cor. 12:7–9.
and not experience many e) Philippians 3:10.
hardships.” f) James 1:2–4.
“If God really loves us, He will g) Rom. 8:17–18.
protect us from terrible 2. Does God care when His
suffering.” children suffer?
“When we are sick or in pain,
it is because God is punishing us for our Teaching Points 10 minutes
sins.”
“Spiritual people do not hurt emotionally Collect answers for each point in question 1
when they suffer. They will only experience above. Write them on a board, flipchart, or a
joy.” piece of paper. Then read the summary of
“Jesus took all our sicknesses and sorrows what the class has learned about suffering.
on Himself on the cross. If we claim His We have seen that there are many reasons
blood, we need never suffer or be in want.” why Christians—and others—suffer. The story
of Job shows that there may be spiritual
To understand the answers to these hard
battles we know nothing of, and that God does
questions, we need to look more closely at the
not necessarily tell us the cause of our
Bible’s teaching about suffering. A thorough

15
suffering. We must be careful not to be like We are to give practical help when
Job’s friends who were sure that he was possible, not just to say “God bless
suffering because of his own sin. In the end, you” (James 2:16; 1 John 3:17).
God told them how wrong they were. When
we see someone sick or suffering, we should Application & Prayer 15 minutes
not assume that it is because of their sin.
Break into groups to discuss these questions:
How are we to respond to suffering, ours
1. Has the study today given you any new
and others’? You already saw most of the
understanding about suffering?
answers in the verses you studied. Let’s
summarize. 2. What questions do you still have?
Remember that no one has all the answers
We are to pray for
to the problem of suffering.
relief. Paul begged
God three times to 3. What positive results have you seen when
take away his afflict- you endured hardships in your own life?
ion, and each time Prayer
must have been a Pray that you will have a more balanced,
special occasion of biblical response to suffering.
prayer (2 Cor. 12:7–9). Pray that God will strengthen you to
James says persevere through your suffering with
The elders should pray for and anoint the right attitude.
the sick person. Pray that we will walk by faith and not
We should confess our sins to each by sight as we face various trials.
other and pray for each other so we
may be healed (James 5:14–16). Before Next Week
We are to be patient and even rejoice in our
Read: Heb. 11:32–40; 1 Pet. 4:12–19
sufferings. We know that God is with us,
He hears our prayers, and He is our Memory Verse: James 1:2–4
comfort and strength (2 Tim. 2:3; James
1:2, 5:7–11). We all want more of God’s
power. Paul prays in Col. 1:11 that the
believers would be strengthened with God’s
mighty power—not to prosper or do great
miracles, but so they might have “great
endurance and patience.”
We are to encourage those who suffer,
giving them encouragement and comfort,
feeling what they feel (Romans 12:15;
2 Cor. 1:3–4).

16
on
Persecuted for Righteousness Le
ss
Hebrews 11:32–40 6

Introduction 5 minutes While persecution can


include imprisonment
That we will be strengthened to or death, it may also
persevere through persecution include isolation,
and opposition as we look at the financial pressure,
way God’s people have faithfully being a “second-class
endured through the ages. citizen,” disrespect, mockery, loss of property,
We saw in a previous lesson that Jesus told inability to get employment, and many other
His followers to expect persecution. He even forms of abuse.
said that those who were persecuted for
righteousness were blessed! Discussion Questions 30 Minutes
Have you ever been abused or insulted Read Hebrews 11:32–40
because you were a believer? Have you ever
This passage is part of the famous list of the
been persecuted or attacked as a Christian?
“heroes of faith.” The author of Hebrews,
Do you know others who have been
starting in verse 1 of chapter 11, lists people
persecuted?
who were faithful to God, believed God, and
Jesus said we should expect persecution,
considered heaven their home. Some were
and indeed Christians have been persecuted
victorious, some suffered and were killed, but
from the first days of the Church until now.
all were faithful.
Before he met the Lord, Paul (then named
Saul) was trying to crush the Church. Later, 1. Did the people mentioned here all suffer
the Roman Empire sometimes fiercely equally? (Were all killed? Tortured?
attacked Christians, killing them for sport or Delivered?)
in anger, burning some alive and making 2. What is the difference between those in this
others face wild animals and strong warriors. passage who were persecuted and those
Many could have saved their lives simply who were not? Were some more spiritual,
by denying Christ or offering a small sacrifice better, or stronger?
to the Emperor, but they remained faithful. 3. Why did some of these people suffer so
Around the world and throughout history, severely? Was it because of their lack of
there have been many such persecutions, large faith or because of their sin? Was it for
and small. Even today, believers are laying other reasons?
down their lives for Christ in places such as
4. Do you think all these people received an
Sudan, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Vietnam,
answer from God as to why they suffered?
China, Nigeria, and elsewhere.
5. In verses 35–40, can you identify at least
two positive results from their persecution?

17
Read Hebrews 10:32–39. Application 15 Minutes
6. What kinds of persecution did the early Break into groups to discuss these questions:
believers face (vv. 33–34)?
How do our present persecution
7. In verses 35–36, the writer encouraged the compare with that of God’s people
persecuted Christians to persevere. What through history?
does it mean to persevere? Looking at the answers from question 4
8. What reason does the writer give for above, under Hebrews 10:30–39, what
confidence in the midst of struggles? do you find most encouraging to help
9. Verses 35–38 describe several facts that you persevere? In what area do you need
can help us endure persecution. For God’s help?
example, v. 35 mentions a rich reward. Prayer
What else do you see in these verses to Praise God that we can trust Him to
encourage us? avenge injustice, oppression, and perse-
cution. Ask His help to wait for His
Teaching Points 10 minutes perfect timing.
The Bible teaches that we should expect to
face persecution for our faith (John 15:20; Before Next Week
2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12). Read: Romans 12:9–21
God wants us to react to persecution and Memory Verse: Hebrews 10:36
suffering with gentleness, faith and
patience, not anger, discouragement and
bitterness (Rom. 12:14). We will look more at
this in the next lesson. 1 1 1
Persecution because of our own
faults is not the same as being perse-
cuted for our faith. If we are unpleasant,
lazy, abusive and so on, we cannot say, “I’m
Christ suffered for you,
being persecuted for my faith,” when we lose
our job or when others abuse us (1 Peter
2:20). Likewise, we cannot claim to be
Leaving you an example,
suffering for Christ if we belong to a group
such as a political party or tribe and are
persecuted because of that group’s actions. We
That you should follow
in His steps.
can still be blessed even in that situation by
responding in the right way.

18
n
Responding to Persecution ss o
Le
Romans 12:9–21 7

Introduction 5 minutes 3. Does this make any sense, humanly speak-


ing? Is this even possible under today’s
That we will be encouraged to put circumstances?
into practice the hard teachings
4. Have two or three people tell about
of Scripture regarding suffering
Christians they knew who somehow blessed
and persecution.
their “enemies.” How did they overcome
In truth, even the most mature among us their desire for revenge in order to bless in
struggle with the Scriptures’ teaching about practical ways instead? What were the
persecution. Our hearts desire revenge and we results?
cry out for justice when we are 5. How can we do our part to
live in harmony with our
victims of mistreatment,
prejudice, violence and various Bless those who persecutors, especially if they do
persecutions. Yet Jesus clearly not share the desire to live
tells us to bless those who persecute you peaceably (v. 16, 18)?
insult, persecute and lie about 6. Many Christians today admit
us, even going so far as to say we should they are tired of reaching out continually to
rejoice and be glad to be numbered with those those who repeatedly abuse them. What
who endure such treatment for His sake scriptural response could you give to
(Matt. 5:10–12)! None of us is equal to such a encourage them?
task without divine help and surgery upon our 7. Why does Scripture consistently teach that
hearts and attitudes. we should not take revenge (v. 19)?

Discussion Questions 25 Minutes 8. Discuss practical ways we can “overcome


evil with good” under present-day circum-
Read Romans 12:9–21. stances (v. 21).

1. The values of the Kingdom are different


Teaching Points 10 minutes
from the values of this world. From your
own observations, what are the patterns or Humanly speaking, our natural response to an
models of the world regarding power, offense is to desire justice and to have our
suffering, conflict, and violence? rights restored. As we will see in Lesson 9, the
2. Specifically from verses 14, 20 & 21, how longing for justice is not wrong. It reflects the
are Christians called to “bless” their fact that God Himself is a God of justice. He
persecutors? cares about right and wrong, about fairness
and goodness. In no way does He tell us to
overlook evil and injustice.

19
If God were a God of justice only, we would Are we willing to step out in faith and
all be condemned because we have all sinned follow the footsteps of Jesus?
against Him and each other. However, God
also loves us, is patient with us, and wants Application & Prayer 20 Minutes
to forgive us and restore us to His favor. He
As we consider today’s lesson, we recognize
sent Jesus for this very reason. Jesus was that our natural, human response to
patient and obedient to the persecution is according to the “pattern of this
point of death so that we world.”
could have life rather than Break into small groups to reflect on how
condemnation. God wants us to respond as citizens of the
In Romans chapter 12, the Kingdom of Heaven.
apostle Paul reminds us Share what part of this lesson has been
that being a Christian is most challenging to you personally
more than simply belonging today.
to a church, believing Be specific about how you need to ask
certain things, or calling on for God’s help to “be transformed by the
Jesus’ name. Rather, being a Christian means renewing of your mind” to change your
that we are followers of Christ, who lived wrong thinking about responding to
very differently from the way of the world. He persecution.
sought to serve, not to be served. He suffered Confess to one another any wrong
rather than seek revenge. He loved rather than actions or attitudes you have had about
hated those who opposed Him. In the midst of the injustices you face in today’s society.
His agonizing death, He actually forgave those
Pray
who were responsible.
The only way for us to follow Jesus in this Pray for each other to be creative and
world is for our hearts and minds to be persevering in blessing our persecutors
transformed or changed (Rom 12:2). We in practical ways. This is how we
need to let the Spirit guide us to purify our overcome evil with good.
inner selves from our sin and the world’s way Ask God to help you increase your faith
and to put God’s way in our hearts instead. to believe God will avenge the wrongs
One way the Spirit does this is through the done to you or your family.
Word of God.
Paul also shows us plainly that the words of Before Next Week
Jesus about loving our enemies are not Read: Matthew 5:38–42.
unreachable ideals but practical commands
Memory Verse: Hebrews 10:36
we must obey. “Bless those who persecute you
… do not repay anyone evil for evil … do not
take revenge … if your enemy is hungry, feed
him … do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good.”
20
n
Turn the Other Cheek or Take the Sword? ss o
Le
Matthew 5:38–42 8

Introduction 5 minutes Read Luke 22:35–38 and


To be equipped as believers to (1) Matthew 26:52
answer practical questions 1. Are Christians allowed to use weapons
about responding biblically to and/or violence to defend themselves?
persecution and (2) work toward How do we understand the differences
peaceful solutions in our communities. between these two passages?
(This lesson may be too long for one Read I Peter 3:8–12
session. It is important to allow time for
2. What does it mean to “seek peace and
discussion and reflection on these issues.)pursue it”? Clearly, injustices and oppres-
How do you honestly feel about Christ’s sion exist in our society. The Church is
instruction, “Do not resist an evil called to join together to work toward
person” (Matt. 5:39)? righting wrongs. But how?
Is violence ever a justified response to Read Romans 13:1–6
violence? 3. Last week we saw that God tells us not to
Is there a place for armed self-defense as a fight evil with evil or to seek our own
believer? For “vigilante justice”? revenge (Rom. 12:14–21). Does this mean
How can the Christian community work that evildoers escape punishment?
toward peaceful solutions in situations
4. Who is appointed to bring judgment on
where government fails to act justly?
evildoers (see v. 4)? The individual? The
These are just a few of the questions currently church? A secret group?
facing the Church under fire .
5. What are some of the results when people
bypass the authorities and take justice into
Discussion Questions 20 Minutes
their own hands?
Read Matthew 5:38–42
Briefly discuss how you honestly feel about
Teaching Points 15 minutes
Jesus’ instruction in verse 39 not to resist an Matthew 5:38–42: It is important to
evil person. Was He serious? Did He consider carefully the meaning of these verses.
understand the real world? Did He know what There is much difference of opinion, even
our world would be like? Does He expect us among Bible experts, about the correct
actually to obey? interpretation of this passage.
Dr. Samuel W. Kunhiyop, in African
Christian Ethics, 2004 edition), says that
this passage urges Christians not to accept

21
violence and insults passively without taking Another point is that Jesus spoke about
action. He makes several worthwhile points. someone slapping you on the face. The
We should not respond to violence with emphasis is more on the insult and contempt
violence. Dr. Kunhiyop emphasizes that than on physical danger. Accepting a slap or
history repeatedly bears out that a violent insult in a peaceable way does not in itself
response only serves to continue the cycle mean that we should be as gentle with
of violence and always produces more someone who is about to kill us or our family.
suffering (p. 114). Luke 22:35–38 and Matt. 26:52:
We should respond to evil with “creative Again, Bible scholars and Christian leaders
resistance.” Kunhiyop understands have debated the interpretation and apparent
Jesus’ statements in this passage to mean contradictions found in these two passages.
believers should respond to aggression in Dr. Kunhiyop’s insights are relevant:
ways that expose the oppressor for what he “Jesus is acknowledging that swords
is. Kunhiyop suggests that Jesus was may be needed for self-protection. When
teaching “an active condemnation of the the authorities provide no proper protect-
evils of His day,” not passive resistance (pp. ion, it is appropriate to protect oneself. It
116–118). would have been unwise to travel in the
For example, Jesus did not say to ignore mountains where there were robbers and
someone who hits you, but to turn the thieves without a sword, and it is right and
other cheek. Besides being a peaceable proper to arm oneself in order to defend
response, this highlights the aggres- oneself, one’s family and the weak.
sion of the one who hit you. Advocating a non-violent response to
oppression and injustice is not at odds with
self-defense or defense of one’s family or
even one’s church. Thus in Nigeria, where
families and churches have been targeted

Put your sword for destruction, it would be appropriate for


a Christian to use a weapon to protect

back in its place,


himself and his family. It is unwise and
irrational not to protect one’s household if
it is being attacked” (p. 119).
for all who draw Thus Kunhiyop says that Jesus prohibits
fighting but not self-defense.
the sword will Some commentators believe that Jesus was
speaking symbolically when He told the
die by the sword. disciples to take swords. “It is enough” could
mean “that’s enough on the subject, forget
about it.” Certainly, two swords would not
have been adequate for defense against the

22
Roman soldiers or Jewish temple police. 2. How could believers work together to
Furthermore, Jesus rebuked Peter when he promote social justice in an imperfect
did use the sword: “ ‘Put your sword back in society?
its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw 3. How can we work within our local church
the sword will die by the sword.’ ” Although to promote a more peaceful community?
the disciples and early Christians suffered
intense persecution, there is no evidence that Prayer
they ever used violence or weapons to defend Pray for our government officials to
themselves. work toward justice, fairness and peace
There will always be some disagreement for all people in our country.
about the details of whether and when self- Pray for courage to resist evil in
defense is right for Christians. However, the creative, Christ-honoring ways.
details are less important than some universal Confess any ways you have repaid evil
principles: with evil, and ask God to forgive any
God’s Kingdom is one of peace and heart attitudes that are not promoting
harmony. Christians are called to be people harmony with our neighbors.
of peace, gentleness, humility, and love. Pray that God would raise up peace-
makers in our area and that we will do
Our home and our treasure are in God’s
our individual parts to live peaceably as
Kingdom, not in this world.
citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Even in the most difficult times, we are
called to be faithful followers of Jesus. Before Next Week
Jesus could have defended Himself, but
Read: 1 Peter 2:18–24.
instead chose to suffer on behalf of His
enemies. Memory Verse: Matthew 5:9.
Whatever we believe about self-defense, the
Bible is very clear that there is never
any place for retaliation and
aggression. Killing someone apart from
immediate self-defense is murder, “and you
know that no murderer has eternal life in
him” (1 John 3:15).

Application & Prayer 20 minutes


1. What non-violent ways have you seen to
draw attention to injustices in an effort to
bring about social change and peace?

23
rs
S ta the s s
Shining Like a Star in the Darkness in rk n e
Da

Professor Danny McCain tells the story, the time my church was burned the first time
from Jos, Nigeria, of a pastor who is an but I am not going to do that. I could tell you
about the time my church was burned the
example of the peacemakers Jesus said
second time but I will not do that either. I will
are blessed.
tell you about the time they came to burn my
Rev. Sunday Gomna is the pastor of church the third time.
Immanuel Baptist Church. The church is one “When they arrived that third time, my
of the nearest ones to my house. Rev. Gomna Muslim neighbor who lives immediately
is currently an MA student in New Testament across the street stopped the boys and said,
studies at the University of Jos, working ‘You cannot burn this church. This is a house
under my supervision. of prayer.’ When the boys insisted, the old
During the past eight and a half years, man said, ‘If you need to burn something, you
Immanuel Baptist Church has been burned can burn my house but you cannot burn this
three times. A temporary shelter that was put church again.’ ”
up after the November 2008 crisis in Jos was As soon as Rev. Gomna said that, the acting
torn down during the most recent one. In each governor stopped him and said, “Who was
crisis, an average of six church families have that man? I want to know his name.” His
lost their homes, including, during the first name was supplied.
crisis, the parsonage containing all of Rev. After the meeting was over and the
Sunday’s belongings and, during the second delegation was outside, one of the Muslim
crisis, his office with his nearly-completed MA elders said to Rev. Gomna, “Pastor, why did
thesis. He and his church have really suffered you do that? We know what you could have
as a result of these crises. said about the loss of your church and your
home but why did you choose to say
Meeting the Governor something good about one of our people
A couple of years after our first crisis, the instead?”
acting governor of Plateau State invited Rev. Gomna said, “We are the elders of our
leaders from various communities to come to community. We do have some problems in our
the government house to share their community but we do not really need to
observations about the crisis. Those invited disturb the governor with those small things.
included the community leaders of the Jos For example, some of your boys keep coming
Anguwan Rimi area, with a group of Christian over to our church, breaking in and stealing
elders and several Hausa/Muslim elders our sound equipment. In addition, some of
making up the delegation. them come over and defecate on our church
When it was Rev. Sunday’s turn to speak he property. However, I think we are wise
said, “Your Excellency, I could tell you about enough to handle those small problems.” The

24
elders quickly agreed. who in turned gave it to the owner of the
The following Sunday, Rev. Gomna invited vehicle.
the Muslim elders to come at two in the A few days later the Muslim elders heard
afternoon. They came to the church and about this and came to Rev. Gomna. One of
accepted the food that the pastor offered and them said, “Pastor, we have never experienced
even removed their hats when they went anything like this before.” Another said, “This
inside the church. The pastor showed them is the kind of Christianity we heard about
the holes where the boys had been breaking in when Mohammed was driven from Mecca and
and the place where they had been using the received by Christians.”
church grounds as a toilet. The elders Obviously, there has been more tension in
promised him that this would not happen the area but the tension is not from people in
again. the local community. In fact, Rev. Gomna
testifies that when he walks through the area,
Broken Windscreen the Muslims often buy him suya. They have
A few months later, during a church even called him to solve marriage problems.
service, a Muslim child threw a stone over the And when a rumor went around that Rev.
fence of the church while playing. The stone Gomna was going to be moved to a bigger
broke out the windscreen of a vehicle in the church, a delegation of Muslims came to see
car park. Some Muslim neighbors who saw him and said, “Pastor, you cannot go.”
the incident arrested the child and took him to A few months ago, Rev. Gomna worked
the police station at Anguwan Rogo. When the with one of the Muslim leaders to get a
service was over and Rev. Sunday heard about dumpster brought in to improve the area’s
this, he went immediately to the police sanitation. He has held three medical out-
station. He told the DPO, “We are removing reaches in the community, providing free
this case from you. This is not a police case.” medical services. He has not run away. He is
The DPO said, “If you remove this case committed to shining like a star in the
from us, we cannot guarantee you compen- universe in that community that is so full of
sation for the wind screen.” darkness.
The pastor said, “That does not matter. Rev. Sunday Gomna is a leader. He is
These are children of our neighbors and we committed to responding to things the way
will sort that out with them.” Jesus taught us to respond and he is also
The parents of the child were very committed to teaching his people to do the
apologetic but also very poor. To repair the same. He is a person who has decided to stop
vehicle cost 20,000 naira. The owner of the talking and to do something practical. Rev.
car agreed to contribute 7,000 naira herself. Sunday Gomna is a young pastor who serves
While the Muslim neighbor was trying to as a great challenge to the rest of us.
borrow money, Rev. Gomna was able to raise
From Reflections on the Christian
13,000 naira from among his members. They
presented the money to the Muslim neighbor
Responses to Three Jos Crises by Danny
McCain.

25
n
Responding to Injustice ss o
Le
I Peter 2:18–25 9

Introduction 5 minutes killing seriously? Who is the author of


killing?
Previously, we focused mainly on the
2. Read Exodus 22:21, Matt. 5:43–45, and
wrong responses to injustice
Romans 12:18. What kind of relationships
and persecution. In this lesson,
does God want His people to have with
the aims are (1) to understand how
each other and with the world?
we should respond and (2) to commit
3. Read Psalm 33:5, Psalm 103:6, and Isaiah
ourselves to following God’s way rather
30:18. What do these verses say about
than the world’s.
God’s character?
In the previous lessons we looked at the issues
of persecution, conflict, and how God tells us Teaching Points 10 minutes
to respond to these. Now in this lesson we (From Dr. McCain) “God places a high value
want to look more carefully at how we should on life. This is illustrated several ways (see
respond. In particular, is it right or even Bible verses for question 1 above):
possible to put God’s commands into practice God is the author of all life.
in real life, or are they only for an ideal world, God’s enemy is the author of killing,
or perhaps for more “saintly” people than stealing and destruction.
ourselves? God prohibits taking innocent life.
Most of the material from this lesson is God prescribes the ultimate penalty for
taken from the work of Prof. Danny McCain, a
taking human life.
pastor, theologian, and now Professor of
Religious Studies at the University of Jos, “If God is the Creator of life and the devil is
Nigeria. Dr. McCain and his family have first- the destroyer of life, then God’s people should
hand experience in these issues, having lived always be on the side of saving, preserving,
in Jos during the past three crises (2001, and restoring life, not on the side of
2008, and 2010). During the first two he had destroying it.”
a “refugee camp” at his home, feeding 150– The verses in question 2 above show that,
200 people for several days. in both the Old and New Testaments, God
wanted His people to live in harmony, peace,
Discussion Questions 15 Minutes wholeness, and love. What about the wars
What Kingdom principles determine how we Israel fought in the Old Testament? Dr.
should respond to injustice and persecution? McCain explains that while in the Old
Testament God was working through one local
1. Read Gen. 1:27, Exodus 20:13, and John
nation, Israel, now He is working through the
10:10. What do these say about the
Church. The Church includes people of all
importance of human life? Does God take

26
nations and ethnic groups, and Christ has for those who offend us.
given new instructions for how the Church We should allow God to provide His own
must operate. Also, while governments have justice.
the right and even responsibility to punish When faced with persecution
wrongdoers (Romans chapter 13), individuals
Believers prayed.
do not have that right.
Some submitted to arrests and abuse and
The verses in question 3 show that God is
even execution by the government.
just and fair, and that He demands justice
Some were miraculously delivered.
among people. He does not overlook injustice
They used the government’s justice and
committed against us, nor does He excuse
security systems when they could.
injustices we commit against others. Justice is
There is no example of violence by any of
a fundamental part of God’s very character.
the followers of Jesus in the early church
Discussion Questions 10 minutes period (apart from Peter’s cutting off the
man’s ear, an act which Jesus reversed and
Given that God is a God of justice and love, rebuked).
how should we respond to injustice and hate?
What does each set of verses show? Application 10 minutes
1. 1 Peter 2:18–24.
In your small groups, discuss:
2. Acts 16:37–39, 22:25–27, and 25:8–11.
1. What are the one or two most important
3. Acts 23:16–17. How did Paul respond when things you have learned from the studies up
he heard of a plot against his life? to now?
4. Prov. 20:22, Rom. 12:18–21, 1 Peter 3:8–9. 2. What questions do you still have?
Is it our responsibility to avenge evil? Is
3. What is one thing you might do differently
there anyone we can depend on to “deal
as a result of what you have learned?
with” evildoers?
Prayer
Teaching Points 10 minutes In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask, “Thy
Prof. McCain summarizes how the early Kingdom come, Thy will be done on
Christians responded to injustice in ways that earth….” The kingdom is God’s rule
were consistent with the gospel, and says we being carried out on earth. Pray these
should do likewise: words, and ask God to show you how
you can help carry out His peacemaking
We should correct injustice if it is possible
on earth.
and legal.
We should report cases of injustice or
For Next Week
potential injustice to appropriate
authorities. Read Habakkuk 1:1–4, Psalm 55.
We should not take justice into our own Memory Verse: Matthew 5:9
hands. Rather, we should forgive and pray
27
Becoming Peacemakers

The Path to Reconciliation


Many of us have experienced deep hurt in our lives. For some, it is wounds from
our past, while for others the injury may be more recent, maybe even from
injustice or persecution. Regardless of its source, as believers we must learn to
take our pain to Jesus to find healing. Learning how to forgive those who have
hurt us is the only path toward peace and ultimate reconciliation. In the next
lessons, we will begin to exploring the important issues of forgiveness and
reconciliation, to help us continue growing in the right direction toward being
peacemakers in an ungodly world.

Before we begin looking at issues of hurt, Another book is Healing the Wounds of
forgiveness, and reconciliation, we must be Ethnic Conflict, by Dr. Rhiannon Lloyd,
sensitive to those among us who have suffered published by Mercy Ministries International.
great trauma, or who are working through Specifically, chapter 8 offers an exercise to
painful hurts that have left deep wounds upon assist people with taking their pain to Jesus to
their lives. Healing is a process that takes begin the process of forgiveness, especially for
time, and many people need outside help to serious offenses.
work through issues of forgiveness. More information on these books and
We must take care not to offer quick others is found in the appendix of this study
answers to hurting people, or to be guide. You can download the entire book
judgmental of those who are struggling. If you Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Conflict
yourself find these lessons uncovering some free from the Internet.
wounds or sores that have never healed, it
may be helpful to seek the counsel of your • •• •
pastor or a trusted friend. A caring community
can go a long way toward helping people find
Blessed are
wholeness and healing. The peacemakers
There are several helpful books that
address our problems in a practical way. For they shall be called
Healing the Wounds of Trauma is one
book that has helped many people and we The children of God
recommend it to you.
• •• •
28
n
Being Honest to God with our Feelings ss o
Le
Habakkuk 1:1–4 10

Introduction 5 minutes Later in the chapter (v. 12–17), we see that


Habakkuk felt God was unjust in how He
To recognize the importance of carried out His plan of punishment, and he
honest expression of feelings questioned God about it.
before God, and to bring our The Bible is filled with people who
pain to the cross of Christ for questioned God, who voiced their complaints
healing. and confusion, who expressed their emotions
fully, and who wrestled with their painful
Throughout Scripture, we see raw human circumstances. A few psalms even express the
emotions being expressed honestly to God. desire for God to give full revenge for the
Moses was angry with the people he was oppressors’ cruelty.
leading and often complained to God. David Many psalms express anger, frustration,
was confused and perplexed by his enemies sadness, or despair. In Psalm 137:8–9, the
who treated him unjustly. Even Jesus psalmist actually wanted someone to dash the
displayed deep anguish in the Garden and on Babylonian babies against the rocks, as they
the cross. had done to the Israelites! This is not a “model
One consistency throughout Scripture is prayer” for us, but it is an expression of true
that people cried out to God honestly, feelings; it creates a mirror to see if we feel the
describing their pain, even revealing their same way. If this describes your unspoken (or
desire for revenge. spoken) feelings about your offenders, it
reveals that God needs to do some heart
Teaching Summary 15 minutes surgery on you.
We see several things as we take a careful look
at Habakkuk’s honest complaints to God: Discussion Questions 20 minutes
He had repeatedly cried for help and felt Read Habakkuk 1:1–4
God was not listening to him (Habakkuk
1. Can you identify with Habakkuk’s
1:2a)!
complaints? In what ways have you felt
He saw wickedness, violence, injustice, and
frustrated with God’s ways of dealing with
destruction all around him, and wondered
our adversaries?
why God was tolerating it without acting (v.
2–3). 2. Have you ever voiced your complaints and
He was frustrated at the corruption and confusion to God in prayer as honestly as
lack of justice (v. 4). some of the Bible characters did?
He was questioning God as to why He 3. How have you dealt with your natural
seemed to do nothing about the sad state of desires for revenge against those who treat
affairs among His people. you unjustly?
29
4. Some of us have “called down fire” upon further explanation about this.) When Jesus
our enemies. This may be a good heals our pain, we are able to forgive those
expression of our heart feelings. Does God who have hurt us. This is truly a work of God,
want us to continue with that prayer alone,but it also needs an act of obedience on our
or does He lead us toward forgiveness? part. As we will see in the next lesson,
How would God want us to pray instead? complete forgiveness of a deep hurt is a
5. Why do we sometimes feel a need to hide process and takes time. We must not be
how we really feel from God? discouraged by thinking we can never forgive.
Instead, we must ask God for the courage to
6. How can we question God and honestly
start the journey.
complain while maintaining our attitude of
respect toward God and accept His
Application & Prayer 15 minutes
sovereignty in our affairs?
Return to your discussion groups and discuss
Teaching Points 5 minutes Which part of this lesson affects you most
If we are to love our enemies, we must receive personally?
God’s grace to be able to forgive our offenders Does God seem to you more like a friend to
and work toward reconciliation. This is clearly whom you can tell your feelings, or a
a divine work. Forgiveness starts as we look distant boss or ruler who is not safe to
within our own hearts to know how we truly approach?
feel about the ways we or our loved ones have Prayer
been hurt. It also includes confession:
Read Psalm 139:23–24 out loud.
confessing our desires for revenge and our
impatience or confusion with God’s ways. Ask God to help you be honest with any
Those of us who have experienced trauma feelings you need to acknowledge or
or violence at the hands of others need to do confess.
some deeper work that will allow us to forgive Ask God to help you confront any
our offenders. The work is not easy. At times it misplaced desires for revenge or wrong
may cause intense pain. Often we need help heart attitudes.
from a pastor or counselor to guide us through Silently, ask God to reveal any
the process (James 5:16). A helpful tool is the unforgiveness that remains in your heart
book Healing the Wounds of Trauma toward any person or group. Ask God for
mentioned above. courage to start on the path of
For any of us to offer true forgiveness, we forgiveness.
need to acknowledge that the person has done Pray for one another briefly as it relates
wrong against us and to accept the pain to this lesson.
their sin has caused us. After identifying the
wounds specifically, we need to bring our For Next Week
painful feelings to the cross in honesty and Before next week read: Matthew 18:21–35.
release them to Jesus. (See Appendix A for
Memory verse: Psalm 62:8
30
n
Freedom through Forgiveness ss o
Le
Matthew 18:21–35 11

5. Should we forgive only those who are sorry


Introduction 5 minutes
or ask for forgiveness? (Luke 23:34,
To understand what forgiveness is Romans 5:8)
and is not and to learn practical 6. Does forgiveness mean that the offender
steps to forgive others in a biblical does not face any consequences?
way. (Romans 12:19–21, 13:3–4)
7. Can our forgiving spirit be used to help
There are many misunderstandings, even in
bring others to Christ? (Acts 7:58–8:1; Saul
the church, about forgiveness. This lesson will
later repented and followed Christ.)
present some of the wrong beliefs about
forgiveness and will look more closely at what
Teaching Points 15 minutes
the Bible teaches about forgiveness.
Appendix A contains some practical help Take turns reading each of the following
for how we can work through our hurts to misunderstandings about forgiveness. As you
forgive those who have offended us. If we go through this list, make sure everyone
want to be peacemakers as we are called to be, understands each point and briefly answer any
we must address these issues on a personal questions that may arise.
level to bring about lasting change in our
church and society. What forgiveness is not
It is not excusing the person’s offense or
Discussion Questions 20 Minutes acting as if the event never happened.
It is not saying that what happened really
First, let’s consider some fundamental truths was not important.
about forgiveness. Use the Bible references to
It is not denying our feelings of anger,
discuss these questions in your small groups.
sadness or distress.
1. Is forgiveness optional? (Matthew 6:14–15) It is not trusting the offender
2. What are some results of not forgiving unconditionally, especially if there is no
others? (Matthew 18:21–35) repentance. (But we must be willing to
3. What are the limits of the command to grow in trust.)
forgive others? How often, how many It is not reconciliation. We can forgive
times, for what offenses? (Matthew 18:21– someone without their participation, but
22) reconciliation requires both parties to be
involved. Restoration of relationship may
4. None of us wants Satan to have any hold
be a goal, but forgiveness does not depend
over us. Does this have anything to do with
on it.
whether we forgive or become bitter?
(2 Cor. 2:10–11; Eph. 4:26–27).

31
It is not forgetting or being unable to recall 2. What do you find the hardest thing about
the offense. forgiving someone?
Forgiveness does not depend on the 3. What has helped you the most to forgive
offender apologizing first or changing their others?
behavior (Luke 23:34).
4. What traditions do we have that help us to
It is not allowing the wrongdoer to avoid
repent and forgive others?
the consequences of their action
(Rom. 13:2). 5. What traditions do we have that hinder us
It is not letting the offender hurt us or from repenting and forgiving?
other innocent people again. Prayer
What Forgiveness Is Take a few moments for quiet, personal
reflection to look at areas of our lives that we
Forgiveness does include need to adjust to the principles laid out in the
Giving up any right to revenge or Word we have looked at today. Then,
retaliation against the one who hurt you; Pray for God to help us work through
Letting go of anger and bitterness against areas of unresolved hurts and
the person; resentment that are giving the devil a
No longer holding the offense against the foothold in our lives.
person; “wiping the account clean;” Pray that God’s people will take serious-
“canceling the debt;” ly the commands clearly laid out in
Desiring blessing and goodness for the Scripture that will help us live in
person. harmony with our persecutors.
Clearly, if someone has deeply hurt us, we Praise God for those who are working
often cannot forgive them without taking toward peace and reconciliation between
much time, thought, feeling, and prayer. We various groups.
may need to say, “I want to forgive you, I am Pray that God will empower His people
working on forgiving you, but I need time.” to become peacemakers to restore
See the information in Appendix A and the broken relationships between people—in
Resources list (Appendix B). the family, in the church, in the
community, and in our nation!
Application 20 minutes Before next week read: Jonah chapters 1–4.
Divide into groups for discussion then come Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:32
back together for prayer. In the small groups,
For if you forgive men when
1. Have someone share about a time they
were hurt and felt they would never get they sin against you, your
over it, yet in time, they were able to truly
forgive and no longer feel pain when
heavenly Father will also
thinking about it. forgive you.
32
n
In a Fish and Under a Vine ss o
Le
Jonah
12

Introduction 5 minutes Jonah admits that he is the one.


The desperate sailors throw
To explore how God used him into the sea as Jonah tells
circumstances to speak to His them. God sends a large fish to
disobedient, prejudiced prophet swallow him.
about sharing His message of In chapter 2, Jonah cries out
salvation with another people. To to God from inside the
understand that God is passionate to save creature. After three days, God
people, even our enemies and those causes the fish to vomit Jonah
different from us. onto the shore. Now the scene
is set for the second part of the story.
How would you feel if, at the glorious
resurrection, you discovered that many of Discussion Questions 15 Minutes
your worst enemies were raised along with
you to eternal life—people who had Read Jonah chapter 3
persecuted you, killed your family, perhaps, or 1. Did God change His command to Jonah in
who had been cruel and heartless toward your light of Jonah’s objections to the task?
own group? How would you feel to discover 2. What does verse two emphasize about the
that God in His grace had forgiven their sins, message that Jonah is to preach? Where
and that you were to join them in His family does the message come from?
forever?
3. Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian
Would you praise God for His grace, or
empire. Assyrian kings and soldiers were
would you be shocked at this unfair turn of
famous for their cruel, fierce ways. Read
events? That is more or less the situation
2 Kings 15:19, 20, 29; 18:13–16, 33. What
Jonah found himself in.
were relations like between Nineveh and
We will read the second half of Jonah
God’s people?
shortly, but first let us review how the story
begins. In chapter one, God tells the prophet 4. What were some of the sins and offenses of
Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach against it the Assyrians? Do you think they deserved
because of its great evil. Instead of obeying, punishment?
Jonah runs away, sailing in a cargo ship going 5. Jonah was one man, an outsider, in a large,
in the opposite direction. At this point, we do powerful city. What was the response to his
not know why he is refusing to go to Nineveh. message?
We know the story: God sends a terrible 6. How did God respond to the king and the
storm that threatens to sink the ship. The people of Nineveh? What in His character
sailors ask who has offended the gods, and moved Him to act in that way?

33
Teaching Points 5 minutes
Jonah had learned part of God’s lesson, the
part about obedience. During the three days
and nights in the belly of the fish, he had
turned back to God and acknowledged Him as
Lord. Once he was on dry land again, he
obeyed God by going to Nineveh and
preaching the message God had given him.
The most amazing thing happened: the
people and their proud, powerful king
repented deeply! Even in Israel and Judah, it
was very uncommon to see such a response to
know what events in his past had made
a prophet’s message. More often, the rulers
him so angry, but can you imagine some
mocked the prophets or even persecuted and
possibilities?
killed them. For the entire city of Nineveh to
repent and be spared was a great miracle of 4. Compare Jonah’s attitudes and feelings
God’s grace and love. towards the people of Nineveh with those
This sounds like the perfect ending for a of God.
Bible story. God’s disobedient messenger had 5. How did God use the vine
a miraculous life-or-death experience, was to show concern for Jonah and
rescued by God, and repented. The sinful to help Jonah understand God’s
people of Nineveh also repented and were compassion?
saved from destruction. It’s perfect, right? Not
quite … there is still one problem: Jonah! Teaching Points 10 minutes

Discussion Questions 10 minutes Jonah is a surprising book. It tells us quite


clearly that God loves not only His “special
Read the conclusion—Jonah chapter 4. people” but the whole world. God hated the
1. What was Jonah’s reaction to God’s mercy Ninevites’ sin (1:1) but He still had
on Nineveh? compassion on them. He sent a warning, and
2. In verse 2, Jonah explained why he had He saved the people when they repented.
run away when God told him to go to Hundreds of years before Jesus would
Nineveh. What was his explanation? Does proclaim, “Love your enemies,” God was
it make sense? giving His people a lesson in how and why to
do just that.
3. Jonah’s extreme anger might be hard to
This is not the whole story or end of the
understand even though the Assyrians
story about God and Nineveh. We read of the
were his enemies. Three times he said he
wars between the Assyrians and Israel and
would prefer to die than live because he
Judah and how God saved the people of
was so angry and distressed. We don’t

34
Jerusalem by destroying the Assyrian army.
We know that ultimately God did judge
Nineveh. The book of Jonah reminds us,
however, that even before the New Testament,
God loved sinners: “ ‘As surely as I live,’
declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no
pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather
that they turn from their ways and
live’ ” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Application 10 minutes
In your small groups, discuss
We know the “right” answer is to love our
enemies, but tell how you think you would
actually have felt in Jonah’s place.
How do you think the lessons of Jonah can
be applied by Christians today?
Prayer
Pray that God will help you see people
through His eyes of mercy, whether they
are your friends or enemies.
Pray that God will help you to be
willing to be His messenger of grace,
that you will not run away as Jonah did
at first.

35
ve ts
Appendix A: How Do We Forgive? r gi
Fo r deb r-
o
o u we f
a give
s

We may know all of the things we have based upon God’s forgiveness of us (Mark
discussed in the lessons, but if it doesn’t 11:25). God’s power (Eph. 1:19) will enable
us to surrender our “right” to feel further
change our behavior then we will still
resentment, and to cease gossiping and/or
have problems. This section provides
slandering the person.
some practical suggestions to help you
Begin to act in a loving manner toward the
work through the process of forgiving
person (Rom. 12:14, 17, 20–21). Don’t let
others for large or small offenses. It can your feelings be your guide, especially as
serve as a guide for individuals to work you are working through your decision to
through this process of forgiveness forgive. Act your way into new
regularly, or as a tool for pastors and feelings rather than try to feel your
counselors to use as they guide others way into new acting. Your loving
through biblical forgiveness and toward actions, though inconsistent with your
the joy of full restoration of relationships. feelings, are totally consistent with your
desire to be what God wants you to be. We
How Do We Forgive? master sin through right action, as seen in
Genesis 4:6–7. Begin by praying for the
Be completely honest with God about the
offender and asking God to bless them,
feelings of hurt you have experienced. Be
whether you feel like it or not.
specific to name the person(s) involved, the
Work toward a restored relationship with
specific offense and how they made you
the person, if possible (Matt. 5:23–24).
feel. Alone with God, express your anger,
Remember, it does take both sides for
shed tears if necessary, and tell Him exactly
reconciliation to occur. Romans 12:18
how you feel. This is what is meant by
teaches us that “If it is possible, as far as it
“bringing your pain to Jesus” (from Lesson
depends on you, live at peace with
4).
everyone.” Do your part, but if your efforts
Confess your lack of forgiveness to God and
are rejected, resolve to live peaceably, pray
ask God to help you be willing to let go of
for God to keep your heart soft toward the
your anger against your offender. Feeling
offender, and keep looking for ways to
anger is not a sin (Mark 3:5), but it easily
show love.
becomes sin when we don’t let our anger go
Remember that complete forgiveness takes
(Eph. 4:26–27). It is helpful to focus on our
time and is a process. Don’t give up, but
own feelings and need to forgive rather
stick with your decision, with God’s help.
than on what the other person did.
Be assured that progress will come and that
Make a decision to forgive. Forgiveness is
you can come to the point where you will
an act of the will. A decision to forgive is

36
no longer feel pain when you remember the
event.
Make it your habit to empty your
“resentment tank” regularly. Look inside
yourself periodically to see if there is
anyone you haven’t forgiven, or if there is
work yet to forgive someone completely.
Resentments can be buried for years and
do great damage without our being aware
of it. Ask the Spirit to reveal any
resentment that may be hidden, and then
take time to work through your feelings
and any grudges that may surface. An
empty “resentment tank” brings incredible
freedom and great joy!
Before God, make a lifetime commitment
to forgive everyone who hurts or offends
you. We need to be completely free from
resentment toward others, without
exception. Write this commitment on a
card. Sign it, date it, and keep it in a place
that will remind you to follow through.
This material has been adapted from
Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills, by Ken
Williams, International Training Partners,
Inc. Contact info@itpartners.org,
www.dizine.com .

37
Appendix B: Resources ve
L o ur s
Y o emi e
En

Here are some more resources about how Bresser. Available from Le Rucher/Mercy
Christians can become peacemakers, how Ministries, Switzerland.
This booklet was written for participants at
we can forgive, and how we can deal with
reconciliation workshops in Rwanda and later
ethnic, religious and other conflict in our
modified for South Africa. It is not a manual
communities. Since it is usually difficult to
on how to run a workshop, but the material is
find books in Africa, and since the Internet
useful for anyone working in conflict.
is becoming more available, we have tried Download free from bit.ly/HWEC2010 or
to list resources which are available lerucher.org/Content/pdf/HWEC%20Manual%
online. 202010.pdf
Ordering info: bit.ly/healingwounds or
Peace-building Within Our lerucher.org/Content/Reconciliation/
Communities (2003), by Rachel Blackman, HWEC_Manual.html
60 pages. Tearfund. Includes four sections: Email: reconciliation@lerucher.org
What is conflict? ‘Kairos’ Nigeria: A Prayerful Call to
What does the Bible say about Nigerian Christian Leaders. An appeal
reconciliation? by and to Christian leaders to work toward
Learning points: Analyse the conflict; Look resolving the Muslim-Christian conflict in a
at identity; Reconciliation takes time, not non-violent way consistent with the Christian
money; Encourage communication and gospel.
understanding … and more scr.bi/ShiningStars or
Learning review and action plan. scribd.com/document_collections/2557322
Also includes list of resources. T e s t i mo n i e s o f H e a l i n g a n d
Download from bit.ly/pbwoc or
Reconciliation. This is a web page by the
Tilz.Tearfund.org/Publications/ROOTS/Peace-
same organization, Le Rucher Ministries, that
building+within+our+communities.htm.
created the book above. On this page are the
Healing the Wounds of Trauma: stories of several Rwandan men and women
How the Church Can Help (2004), by who were terribly scarred by the conflict there,
Harriet Hill, Richard Bagge, Pat Miersma but who have found forgiveness and
Margaret Hill. Pauline Publications. Available reconciliation.
from Amazon.com. bit.ly/reconstories or
Lerucher.org/Content/Reconciliation/
Healing the Wounds of Ethnic
Testimonies.html
Conflict: the role of the church in
healing, forgiveness and reconciliation
(1998) by Dr Rhiannon Lloyd with Kristine

38
Conflict Resolution a n d restitution, and interdependence create
Reconciliation: a Bible study guide. bridges to healing.” Available from
Produced by MAP International’s East Africa Amazon.com and elsewhere.
office. Write to PO Box 21663, Nairobi, Kenya. Amazon page: amzn.to/asweforgive
Email: mapesa@map.org As We Forgive video with Mia Farrow. It
The Mediator, a Christian magazine was this video that actually inspired the
published three times a year in English, writing of the book above. It is “the award-
French and Swahili by Peacebuilding, Healing winning documentary of two Rwandan women
and Reconciliation Programme (PHARP). who struggle with the face-to-face encounter
Write to PO Box 15324 00100, Nairobi, Kenya with the men who slaughtered their families
or e-mail Info@pharp.org. during the 1994 genocide.” Is forgiveness
possible in a situation like this?
Reconciliation After Violent Conflict:
DVD at Amazon: amzn.to/forgiveDVD
A Handbook (2003), by David Bloomfield,
Teresa Barnes and Luc Huyse, 179 pages. My Brother’s Keeper by Ruth Beattie,
International Institute for Democracy and Available from ACTS, TCNN, PMB 2020,
Bukuru, Plateau State, Nigeria
Electoral Assistance (International IDEA),
acts.jos@gmail.com
Stockholm, Sweden. Not specifically
bit.ly/ACTSbooks or
Christian. africachristiantextbooks.com/contact.php
Download from bit.ly/reconflict or
www.ReconciliationNetwork.com/documents/ Websites
reconciliation%20after%20violent%20conflict%
20--%20handbook.pdf. Conflict Resolution Information Service.
Lots of information on different aspects of
Congregational Healing: Lessons
conflict and how to resolve it. Not specifically
from Africa, by Karl Dortzbach. In Common
Christian. www.CRinfo.org/
Ground Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2003.
Looks in depth at conflict, healing, and PHARP: Peace-building, Healing and
forgiveness in the African context. Reconciliation Program. A Kenya-based
Download from bit.ly/congheal or organization focusing on increasing
www.CommonGroundJournal.org/ understanding of the causes for conflict in
archive.html#v01n01. Africa and ways for promoting peace and
A s W e F o r g i v e : S t o r i e s o f reconciliation. Training of peace-building
Reconciliation from Rwanda, by trainers is a major activity.
Catherine Claire Larson. This book “traces the www.pharp.org
route of reconciliation in the lives of Reconciliation Processes in Africa:
Rwandans—victims, widows, orphans, and Faith-Based Initiatives. Links “to sites of
perpetrators—whose past and future intersect. selected religious or faith-based organizations
We find in these stories how suffering, engaged in reconciliation efforts in the African
memory, and identity set up roadblocks to countries.”
forgiveness, while mediation, truth-telling, bit.ly/FBReconciliation

39
or www.loc.gov/rr/amed/africanreconciliation/
Faith-BasedInitiatives.html
Peacemaker Ministries. This
organization is devoted to peacemaking,
reconciliation, and conflict resolution,
primarily among individuals. Topics include
peacemaking in the family, at work, and
within the church. There are many resources
on the site such as “The Four G’s” of resolving
conflicts in a biblical way (Glorify God, Get
the log out of your own eye, Gently restore,
and Go and be reconciled).
www.PeaceMaker.net

From Prof. Danny McCain


You can find some of Dr. McCain’s writings
on these topics online at
scr.bi/ShiningStars or
scribd.com/document_collections/2557322
These include “Making Peace Between
Christians and Muslims” and “As Stars
in the Night: Reflections on the
Christian Responses to Three Jos
Crises.”

40
e
O n dy i n
Appendix C: Citizens of One Great Nation o
B r ist
Ch
Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor
These are some of the very many Bible
free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ
references that talk about who we are in Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are
Christ, how we are one, united body, and Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the
how we ought to act toward each other promise.
as fellow members of the Body. Colossians 3:9-12: 9Do not lie to each other,
since you have taken off your old self with its
practices 10and have put on the new self, which is
Abraham’s Offspring being renewed in knowledge in the image of its
Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew,
Galatians 3:29: If you belong to Christ, then
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian,
you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the
slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in
promise.
all. 12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and
Rom 4:16: Therefore, the promise comes by
dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
faith, so that it may be by grace and may be
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to
Rev. 5:9–10: And they sang a new song: “You
those who are of the law but also to those who are of
are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
because you were slain, and with your blood you
Ephesians 2:19–21: Consequently, you are no
purchased men for God from every tribe and
longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with
language and people and nation. 10You have made
God’s people and members of God’s household,
20built on the foundation of the apostles and
them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief
1 Corinthians 12:13: For we were all baptized
cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined
by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or
together and rises to become a holy temple in the
Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one
Lord.
Spirit to drink.
Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that through the
Ephesians 4:25: Therefore each of you must
gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel,
put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his
members together of one body, and sharers together
neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Our Citizenship Male and Female


I Cor 11:8–12: 8For man did not come from
Philippians 3:20: But our citizenship is in
woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man
heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this
the Lord Jesus Christ,
reason, and because of the angels, the woman
ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 11In
Unity in Diversity the Lord, however, woman is not independent of
Galatians 3:27-29: for all of you who were man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as
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baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with

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woman came from man, so also man is born of in your way that are contrary to the teaching you
woman. But everything comes from God. have learned. Keep away from them.
1 Corinthians 1:10–13: I appeal to you,
Love or Hate? brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
all of you agree with one another so that there may
1 John 2:9–11: Anyone who claims to be in the be no divisions among you and that you may be
light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers,
10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and
some from Chloe’s household have informed me
there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is
whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I
walks around in the darkness; he does not know follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still
where he is going, because the darkness has another, “I follow Christ.” 13Is Christ divided? Was
blinded him. Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the
1 John 3:10–15: This is how we know who the name of Paul?
children of God are and who the children of the John 17:22–23: I have given them the glory
devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is that you gave me, that they may be one as we are
not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought
his brother. 11This is the message you heard from to complete unity to let the world know that you
the beginning: We should love one another. 12Do not sent me and have loved them even as you have loved
be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and me.
murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? James 2:1–10: My brothers, as believers in our
Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, my brothers, 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a
if the world hates you. 14We know that we have gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby
passed from death to life, because we love our clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention
brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a
death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You
murderer, and you know that no murderer has stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have
eternal life in him. you not discriminated among yourselves and
1 John 4:7–8: Dear friends, let us love one become judges with evil thoughts?
another, for love comes from God. Everyone who 5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen
loves has been born of God and knows God. those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be
8Whoever does not love does not know God,
rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised
because God is love. those who love him? 6But you have insulted the
1 John 4:20–21: If anyone says, “I love God,” poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are
yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble
love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given name of him to whom you belong?
us this command: Whoever loves God must also 8If you really keep the royal law found in
love his brother. Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are
Dissension, Divisions, Favoritism doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin10and
9

are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For


Romans 16:17: I urge you, brothers, to watch whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at
out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

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e-
ac
P e kers
Leaders’ Guide ma

his own. In the other parts of this


Lesson 2: Our Kingdom question, (b) to (g), look for other
1. Is the Kingdom of God something in reasons for suffering as shown in the
the future, yet to come? (Luke 19:11, verses given in each part.
22:18). Yes, these verses show that in
some ways, at least, the Kingdom of God Lesson 6: Persecution
is still to come.
Hebrews 11:32–40
2. Is the Kingdom of God something in the
present, already here? (Matt. 11:12, 12:28; 4. Did all these people suffer equally? No; in
Luke 9:62, Luke 17:20–21). These verses fact, some experienced miraculous deliverance
show a different perspective from those in while others suffered miserably unto death.
question 1. They demonstrate that the 5. What is the difference between those in this
Kingdom is already present among us in some passage who escaped suffering and those who
way. were persecuted? Were some more spiritual,
better, or stronger? There is no difference
Lesson 3: Kingdom Principles 1 that we can see by what is written here.
How did Jesus show this quality (being poor in 6. Why did these people suffer so severely?
spirit), and how is this quality different from Was it because of their lack of faith, because
what the world values? Jesus associated with of their sin, or for other reasons? Because
the poor and low in society, He mixed with they were numbered with those who followed
sinners and showed them love and compassion. God rather than the world.
Ultimately, He was humble to the point of 7. Do you think these people received an answer
allowing Himself to be unjustly put to death. from God as to why they suffered? No answer
The world, on the other hand, values riches, or reason is recorded here. We know that even
power, and fame rather than humility and Job never received an answer as to why he
service. suffered.
8. In verses 35–40, can you identify at least two
Lesson 5: Suffering positive results from their suffering? Some
For each verse or group of verses below, try to answers:
find a theme that helps explain the reasons v.35—they knew they would receive the
believers suffer. Someone in each group should resurrection of the just (a “better resurrec-
write a one-sentence answer for each point. tion”)
(a) 2 Sam. 12:13-18 (David after committing v. 39—they were commended for their faith.
adultery with Bathsheba); Acts 5:1–5; 1 Cor.
v. 40—they serve as examples to us.
11:29–30. These verses show that sometimes
suffering can be caused by people’s sin. Note v. 40—they were “made perfect” through their
that David and Bathsheba’s baby son suffered suffering.
and died as a consequence of David’s sin, not

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Hebrews 10:32–39 than I; attack before you’re attacked; some
people just are not human; safety is in power
6. What kinds of sufferings did the early believers
and weapons; kill or be killed. You can use
face (vv. 33–34)? Public insult and
these examples to start thinking of many more.
persecution, imprisonment, confiscation of
their property 2. Specifically from verses 14, 20 & 21, how are
Christians called to “bless” their persecutors?
7. In verses 35–36, the writer encouraged the
To not curse them; to feed them, give them
persecuted Christians to persevere. What does
drink and to do good to them.
it mean to persevere? “To persist in or
remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in 3. Does this make any sense, humanly speaking? Is
the face of obstacles or discouragement.” To this even possible under today’s
remain in the faith, to continue in thanksgiving circumstances? No; it is only a divine work
and trusting in God, living as a believer even in that God enables us to do.
persecutions or other troubles. 5. How do we do our part to live in harmony with
8. What reason does the writer give for our persecutors, especially if they do not share
confidence in the midst of struggles? We will the desire to live peaceably (v. 16, 18)? Some
be richly rewarded and will receive what God ideas include prayer, being humble, and doing
has promised us. kind things for them. It is important for the
people in the group to discuss the actual,
9. Verses 37–38 give several realities to help us to
difficult problems in doing this, not just to give
endure unjust sufferings. For example, Christ
a quick answer.
is coming back to judge the world and He will
avenge our oppressors. What other encouraging 6. Many Christians today admit they are tired of
realities do you see? (a) God’s timing seems reaching out continually to those who
slow to us, but it is certain and His time is repeatedly abuse them. What scriptural
best. (b) We must remind ourselves that God response could you give to encourage them?
also loves our persecutors and is giving them Some possible answers:
time for repentance. (c) We are to live by The admonitions of the Sermon on the
faith, trust in the living God, and not focus on Mount (Matthew 5-7) only make sense if you
our own troubles and the resources of this take a “Kingdom perspective,” thinking of the
world (sight). (d) We must use our faith to unseen world and not just this present age.
believe God is in control and will accomplish Matt. 5:12 promises great reward in heaven
His purposes even as we suffer. (e) Living a life for persecuted people.
of faith pleases God and will be rewarded (v. Matt 5:19 says we will be called great in the
39) kingdom of heaven if we obey these teachings.
Matt. 18:21–35 teaches unlimited
Lesson 7: Responding to Persecution forgiveness, only possible through divine help.
Suffering can cause us to depend on God
1. What are the patterns or models of the world
and to mature in our relationship with God.
regarding power, suffering, conflict, and
Therefore it is for our own good.
violence? Some of the world’s thoughts are:
seek power whenever you can; use power to 7. Why does Scripture repeatedly teach that we
enrich yourself and your people; take care of should not take revenge (v. 19)? We must
yourself first; it’s better that you should suffer leave room for God’s wrath; it is God’s right

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alone to avenge wickedness and we must wait God wants us to live in peace and harmony
for His timing. God desires that all would come with each other and even with the non-
to repentance. He is gracious and merciful to Christians around us. We are to give special
the wicked. attention to the needs of those without
protectors, such as the widows, children and
Lesson 8: Turn the other Cheek? aliens.

Application questions 3. Psalm 33:5, Psalm 103:6, Isaiah 30:18, and


Deut. 16:18–20. What do these verses say
1. What non-violent ways have you seen to draw
about God’s character? God is a just God, a
attention to injustices in an effort to bring
God of justice, and He demands justice from
about social change and peace? Some
people as well.
examples: peaceful demonstrations,
newspaper articles, petitions to government Discussion Questions Set 2 (second page of
officials, collective resistance to wrong lesson):
policies, hunger strikes…. Given that God is a God of justice and love, how
2. In what ways can we work within our local should we respond to injustice and hate? What
church to promote a more peaceful does each set of verses show?
community? Some ideas: working toward 1. 1 Peter 2:18–24. We should endure suffering
actively breaking down tribal barriers, uniting rather than responding with hatred or
against corrupt officials and practices, helping retaliation. Christ is our example in this. Like
our non-Christian neighbors more deliberately, Him, we should entrust ourselves “to Him who
promoting activities that bring various groups judges justly.”
together for greater understanding, avoiding
2. Acts 16:37–39, 22:25–27, and 25:8–11. Paul
stereotyping or profiling (that is, saying things
appealed to the proper legal channels for
like, “All Muslims are ____________”),
justice. When there was a legal basis for
publically condemning wrong actions done by
obtaining justice, he was willing to use it.
any particular group.
3. Acts 23:16–17. How did Paul respond when he
heard of a plot against his life? As in the
Lesson 9: Responding to Injustice
question above, Paul went to the authorities,
Discussion Questions Set 1: expecting them to provide him with the
1. Read Gen. 1:27, Gen. 2:7, Exodus 20:13, and protection he justly deserved.
John 10:10. What do these say about the 4. Prov. 20:22, Rom. 12:18–21, 1 Peter 3:8–9. Is it
importance of human life? How seriously does our responsibility to avenge evil? Is there
God take killing? Who is the author of killing? anyone we can depend on to “deal with”
God is the author of life including human life evildoers? All these verses show that it is not
(Genesis 1:27; 2:7). Anything that God creates our responsibility to avenge evil. It is God who
should not be thoughtlessly destroyed. “The will do that, and He assures us that He will
thief” comes to kill and destroy. indeed judge all people (including us), and His
2. Read Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:18, Matt. 5:43– justice will be known by all.
45, Romans 12:18, and I Cor. 7:15. What kind
of relationships does God want His people to
have with each other and with the world?

45
Lesson 10: Honest with Our Feelings the message come from? God says, “proclaim
the message I give you. The message is from
3. How have you dealt with your natural desires God Himself.
for strong revenge against those who treat you
Discussion Questions Set 2:
unjustly? This is a personal question for each
person, but possibilities include confession, 2. In Jonah 4:2, Jonah explains why he had run
prayer, not fanning the flame of the desires for away when God told him to go to Nineveh.
revenge in your heart, memorizing Scriptures What is his explanation? Does it make sense?
that remind us to wait for God’s vengeance on Jonah says he ran away because he knew
our enemies, rebuking our wrong attitude, that God was gracious and compassionate, so
blessing our enemies instead of cursing them… he was afraid that God would forgive the
people of Nineveh instead of destroying them.
4. Some of us have “called down fire” upon our
Jonah turned out to be correct, since God did
enemies. ... Does God want us to continue
forgive them. Hence Jonah is extremely angry.
with that prayer alone, or does He lead us
His fear has come true: the Ninevites were
toward forgiveness? How would God want us to
spared!
pray instead? Rom. 12:14 clearly calls us to
bless those who persecute us and not to curse
them. We need to pray for God to help us to
do this supernatural work instead of cursing
our enemies.
5. Why do we sometimes feel a need to hide how
we really feel from God? Perhaps we are
embarrassed or ashamed of our true feelings,
we think it is unspiritual to feel the way we
do, we may feel God will judge us for our
wrong feelings, we don’t believe God knows
our hearts so intimately…

Lesson 11: Freedom through Forgiveness


Discussion Questions Set 1:
4. None of us wants Satan to have any hold over
us. Does this have anything to do with whether
we forgive or become bitter? (2 Cor. 2:10–11;
Eph. 4:26–27). These verses warn us that not
forgiving can give Satan an opening to attack
us! It can also lead to bitterness, which is
another way of being attacked by Satan.

Lesson 12: Jonah


2. What does Jonah 3:2 emphasize about the
message that Jonah is to preach? Where does

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