A church that has little impact on its members will be unlikely to attract much attention. However a lively, growing church which has a challenging impact both on its members and the surrounding community, can expect to face all kinds of problems or opposition.

Problems may come from the authorities, particularly in countries where the church is suffering or persecuted. Problems, even violence, may come from people whose lifestyle is threatened because it is based on exploiting the poor to make large profits. This might include money lenders, drug dealers or brothel owners. Divisions may develop through personal tensions and arguments among members or the leadership. Leaders may be unable to resist temptation and become involved in sexual sin or mishandling money.

Expect opposition and pray for protection against temptations and divisions. Teach members to be more aware of the need to face opposition. Encourage people to study Bible passages which will help to strengthen their faith. Make sure that individuals are not left to suffer the consequences of opposition without support. Remember, too, that opposition can often strengthen and unite the church.

Discussion 
  • Read 1 Peter 5:8-11. Here Peter reminds us to always be watchful.
    • What are we to be watchful about?
    • How can we resist the devil?
    • What does Peter say here to encourage us?
  • What experience have people had of dealing with opposition? How did they respond?
  • How can we encourage each other in difficult situations?
  • Read 1 Peter 3:13-17. Should we expect problems as a result of doing good? How should we respond?
  • What experience has our church had of persecution? What were (or are) the consequences?
  • Read Mark 14:66-72. Peter went along when Jesus was taken away by the chief priests and soldiers to Pilate. He was convinced he would never let Jesus down (Mark 14:31) even though Jesus had said he would.
    • Why did Peter deny knowing Jesus?
    • Would we have done the same?
    • Did Jesus still want to use Peter after he had let him down? (Read John 21:15-17, Acts 2:14-21 and 2: 32-41.)
    • How does that make us feel?