The BIG IDEA
See people as God sees them.
When we fail to see that all people are made in the image of God, great sin and injustice occurs.
As believers in Jesus Christ, seek to understand the experience of being someone who is looked down upon or overlooked in our world. Deciding to put our faith in Jesus Christ and learning what the Bible says about people can help us navigate the present culture.
Why THIS MATTERS
All over the world there are groups of people who are treated unfairly because of prejudice. Looking at the African American experience in America is a way to highlight the effects of racial prejudice toward ethnic groups everywhere. This is just one example of prejudice in our world.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: For the students who are feeling the effects of injustice, we want them to know they are seen, and for others to have empathy toward those who are wrongly treated.
- EXPERIENCE: An awareness of our attitudes and actions, and how they can be influenced and changed by God through his Holy Spirit in our lives.
- DO: Seek to educate myself on what the Bible says about ethnicity and prejudice, which can then shine a light on the African American experience in America, as well as in other cultures.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leaders like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
*This study will highlight the African American experience as an example of the racial prejudice that exists all over the world. The Bible has much to say on this subject and how God desires us to treat one another.
Let’s watch this video and talk about what we learn from it.
Watch the video and ask the students what stood out to them.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*1. Read Exodus 1:8-22. How did the king and the other Egyptians treat the Israelites?
They were treated harshly, they were enslaved and the king ordered that all the boy babies of the Israelites be killed. They were oppressed and mistreated.
*2. Where did the king’s negative beliefs of the Israelite people come from?
He was afraid that they would want to rise up and conquer the Egyptians because there were so many of them.
3. What do you think the people had done to deserve this treatment?
Even today some people groups, like African Americans, are still being mistreated and experience negative attitudes, prejudice and racism. Like the Egyptians and the Jews, these attitudes are mostly rooted in fear. Racism is negative attitudes or behaviors directed at a person or group of people based on their skin color or heritage.
*4. Much like the Israelites, African Americans (black people) have experienced injustice and mistreatment for many years. How do you see this happening in American culture today?
Some examples could include: subtle offenses like being followed in a store because it is assumed that they will steal something, being handled or talked to aggressively by teachers, police officers and those in authority, or even someone making jokes based on color. Some students may bring up the deaths of African Americans at the hands of the police or other authority figures. Others will say they don’t believe racism exists in America today. Make sure to respect what they share and give them a chance to express their feelings.
*5. Read Zechariah 7:9-10. What is this passage telling us to do?
To judge others fairly, show mercy and kindness to others and take care of those who need help. Also, to not make plans against others that would be hurtful.
6. As we see in the Bible, the mistreatment of people is not okay with God. How do you think God feels about the mistreatment of African American people (or any other ethnic group) in society?
We learned in the first lesson that we are all made in the image of God so we can be sure he is saddened when anyone is not treated with dignity, respect and love.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
*7. How would you feel if you experienced some of the things the young men shared in the video? Explain why.
8. Can you share about a time when you felt mistreated?
Caution the students to leave out names that might be hurtful or embarrassing. Try not to move on without acknowledging what they shared and how hard that must have been.
*9. Check out Colossians 3:13 and Proverbs 31:8-9. How do you think God wants you to respond?
The Colossians 3:13 verse tells us to forgive those who offend us and to remember that God forgave us, so we need to forgive others. The Proverbs 31:8-9 passage tells us to speak up for those who are poor, helpless or those who need justice.
*10. What is the power source that helps us do what the Bible says?
The Holy Spirit. We can confess our negative thoughts or actions to God, accept his forgiveness and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He also gives us the power to forgive those who hurt us. As his children, God promises to give us the ability to love others.
It always helps to know about other people’s experiences when we talk about racism. If you would like to know more about one person’s African American experience, check out Chealsia’s story in the article below.
By Chealsia Smedley
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
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.