The BIG IDEA:
God calls us to love everyone. However, sometimes we look down on people who are different than we are because we don’t understand them. God calls us to enter into those relationships and show Christ’s love even if it’s uncomfortable.
Our fear, insecurities, and pride cause us to avoid people who are not like us and, instead, we stay in familiar relationships. As we hide in our comfort zones we miss opportunities to share Christ’s love with others and we miss out on the joy of these new relationships.
By faith, we can ask God to change our fear, insecurities, and pride into love for everyone. We can step out of our comfort zones and enter into relationships with people who are different than ourselves and who we otherwise would have avoided.
Just like the white shoes, we often spend the majority of our time with people just like us. But God loves variety and has made a variety of different kinds of people. He calls us to step into relationships with people different than us and love them well.
- What I want the group to know and understand: God calls us to understand and accept people who are different, and to show Christ’s love even if it’s uncomfortable.
- What I want the group to experience: The freedom to view others as Christ does.
- How I want the group to respond: With love and compassion for all people, just like the Good Samaritan.
The SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
There are many different kinds of people in our world. We often allow our differences to separate us while we seek out people who are like us. Jesus calls us to see past our differences and love everyone as he does.
Liven your lesson up with these creative ideas. A well placed video, illustration, game or activity can really make your lesson memorable. If you have ideas you would like to share with the community, click here.
1. THE SNEECHES
Has anyone heard of a story by Dr. Seuss called “The Sneetches”? Can someone summarize it for us?
If not, in the story there are two kinds of people, the Star-Belly people and the Plain-Belly people. The Star-Belly people are snooty and won’t walk with or talk to the Plain-Belly people and their children won’t play ball together.
A man with a special machine comes to town and gives the Plain-Belly people stars on their bellies. That upsets the Star-Belly people so they get their stars removed by the same machine. You can read the book and find out how it ends, but from what you know what are some things causing the people in the story to behave as they do?
more creative touches…
Why is it easier for us to get along with people who are like us rather than people who are different from us?
Today we are going to talk about how to treat people who are different than you.
STUFF YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
- The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was known for having robbers on it. It would be like walking in an unsafe area in your city late at night.
- Priest: This would be kind of like a priest or pastor today.
- Samaritan: Jesus and his followers were Jews. Samaritans were half Jewish and lived in an area very close to the Jews. The Jews looked down on Samaritans. A “Samaritan” in your life might be someone who is different than you whom you tend to look down on or avoid.
- Levite / Temple Assistant: Today, this would be like a big-time church attender that serves a lot at church and would be considered a “church person.”
- Neighbor: The guy who was hurt in the story was a Jew, so you would expect the Priest or Levite (“good” Jews) to stop and help him. It is easy to see them as neighbors. But it was the Samaritan who stopped to help him. Jesus was making the point that it isn’t what people look like or believe, or where they live that makes them neighbors, it’s how they treat each other.
1. Why do you think the two Jews passed him by?
Allow the group to discuss. The passage itself doesn’t really tell us, so all answers will just be guesses. It’s cool. Let them imagine.
2. Why did the Samaritan stop and help him? (v. 33)
Verse 33 says “he had compassion on him.” We could say that he saw him as a person in need while the other two only saw him as a “problem” or “inconvenience” for them. The passage isn’t extremely clear about the motives of the Jews or the Samaritan.
3. What is the main point of Jesus’ story? (v. 37)
Jesus says to “go and do likewise.” That means we should do what the Samaritan did. He is calling us to love others, regardless of how different they are from us.
4. What would this story look like if it took place in your neighborhood? Go through the story as a group or in pairs phrase by phrase and come up with a “your town” version of this parable. If Jesus were to tell this story in your neighborhood today, who would the characters be? What would the setting be? If you break into pairs, share your stories with each other afterwards.
This activity will help your students relate to this story more. Encourage them to have fun with it and then have them share their story with the group.
5. What are some different types of people in the world today?
People are different in a lot of ways. They may be a different ethnicity or religion than us or might come from a different culture. They may have special needs that we don’t understand. They may sin in a way that we are uncomfortable with or be involved in activities that cause us to look down on them. They might be stronger or weaker than us, get higher or lower grades, or be on a totally different level on the social ladder. Maybe they like different music, movies, or clothes. These are just a few of the things that could cause us to move toward people who are more like us and away from people who are different.
6. People who are similar often feel more comfortable together. Think about the lunchroom at your school. Together, make a list of the different types of people that are represented at those tables at lunch time.
This exercise is not intended to alienate any particular group, but to help our students put into words which people they may be avoiding or keeping at a distance without even realizing it. Many of our students will say, “I get along with everybody” without realizing ways that they are like the Priest and Levite in the story. As the group lists out people groups that are different, they will begin to see that they have room to grow in this area.
7. Look through the groups on the list. Why is it sometimes easier to care about and trust people who are similar to you rather than people who are different from you?
Allow the group to discuss. There are many reasons. Most of them involve a lack of understanding because there isn’t much of a relationship. They might have a lack of common ground. They might be fearful of something that is different and new and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. They may even simply fear that they will lose social standing with their friends if they are seen with someone who is different. Help your students dig into these questions.
8. Why is it important for us to show love to people who are different? What is the value of it?
Allow the group to discuss. Some ideas might be… 1) All people have worth because God created them. Every person has value in God’s eyes. They may have been raised differently than you or they may have challenges you don’t have. They may look different or act differently but they are created in the image of God, and that gives them great value. 2) Knowing people who are different can enhance your life and help you see the world more clearly. The walls that divide us are often ignorance, discomfort, fear, and sometimes even hate and we become free from these things as we break down these “walls of difference.”
9. How did God demonstrate his love for you, even though you are different from him?
Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Maybe ask the question “How is God different from us?”
10. Does knowing how God loves you make it easier for you to love people who are different? If so, why?
Allow the group to discuss. It is easier for us to love others because we are so loved ourselves.
11. What is the Holy Spirit’s role in helping you show love to people who are different?
It’s not natural to love people who are different. However, the Holy Spirit can give us the power to do what we can’t do naturally. If you are finding it difficult to love others well, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and give you power to do what you can’t do (and maybe don’t want to do).
12. What are some things you can do this week to show love to someone who is different than you?
Allow the group to discuss. Mention how to rely on the Holy Spirit for this.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.