Perpetua: What Do You Think?
(The story below and and the image of Perpetua and her friends are from The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Book)
Like Cyprian (see the previous post), Perpetua lived during a time when Roman emperors persecuted Christians.
Perpetua and fellow believers bravely refused to participate in rituals that honored the emperor as if he were a god. A few decades after their death, a stricter emperor passed even harsher laws against Christians who refused to sacrifice to false gods.
Sometimes Christians who did not have the courage to oppose the emperor found ways to keep themselves out of trouble with Roman authorities. Anyone who sacrificed received a certificate stating that they had obeyed the law, so some paid their servants to go in their place and bring them back a certificate. Others bribed an official to get the certificate.
What do you think? Was it OK for some Christians to pretend to sacrifice to false gods in order to stay out of prison and continue taking care of their families? Why or why not?
Read Matthew 10:32. Could Perpetua and her friends have offered a small sacrifice to get out of prison and still believe in Jesus in their hearts?
Perpetua’s witness and courage brought many to Christ. Her story continues to challenge believers today to give themselves more fully to Him. If they had sacrificed, do you think others might have said, “Perpetua sacrificed to false gods and she’s still a Christian, so maybe I can do the same?” The Apostle Paul said, “Give no offense [or cause to stumble] to Jews or to Greeks, or to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32).
What do you think that verse means? How might it apply to the early Christians and sacrificing to false gods? Are there ways that Christians today can cause others to “stumble” by their actions (for example, doing careless work, repeating rude jokes, watching certain movies, or playing certain games)?
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