The BIG IDEA
Prejudice exists in all of us and God hates it.
Sin causes us to sometimes see ourselves as better than others, which can result in not treating others with kindness and dignity.
By faith we can ask God to change our hearts and the hurtful attitudes we have towards others. Also we can ask God to give us the power to forgive those who have hurt us with their negative attitudes or actions.
Why THIS MATTERS
Every culture in the world experiences prejudice in some way. It’s part of the sin nature to see ourselves as better than others or to try and have power over someone else. The Bible tells us we are all made in God’s image — this truth can affect how we treat and view others.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: God wants us to love everyone whether they are different from us or similar to us. He asks us to forgive those who have been unkind to us because of prejudice and to have compassion when we see unkindness shown toward others.
- EXPERIENCE: Freedom to view others as Christ does without prejudice and with love and compassion.
- DO: Show love and compassion to people who are targets of injustice because of prejudice. Ask God for his power to forgive others who have treated us unjustly and ask forgiveness for our own unjust attitudes.
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?
*The following links are two ideas to begin a discussion on prejudice. Choose one and ask the students to give their opinions on what they saw.
1. Blue-eyed, Brown-eyed experiment
*Every culture in the world experiences prejudice of some kind. The Bible has a lot to say about this and today we will be looking at how Jesus handled a situation that involved the way people view each other.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*This passage tells us about a trip Jesus took with his disciples through an area called Samaria. When traveling, it was common for Jewish people (Jesus was Jewish) to avoid this area so they would not have to get near the Samaritan people.
Read the verses silently or take turns reading them out loud.
*1. In John 4:4-12 what was the reaction of the Samaritan woman to Jesus when she arrived to get water from the well?
She was very surprised that a Jewish man would talk to someone from Samaria and to a woman.
2. What does it say about Jesus that he went against the beliefs of his day?
He didn’t do what everyone else was doing, he chose to do the right thing.
*3. In John 4:13-19 Jesus offered the woman “living water” and asked her about her relationship with men.
- What was her response?
- What assumption do you think she made about Jesus?
She was excited about getting the water but was embarrassed about all her husbands and living with someone she was not married to. She assumed Jesus would judge her and told a half truth about her situation.
*4. In John 4:20-26 they talked some more, ending with Jesus telling the woman he was the Messiah. How did Jesus treat her during their talk?
He did not consider her someone to be avoided or looked down upon but instead told her the truth, offered her salvation and treated her with respect.
5. In John 4:27 the followers (disciples) of Jesus came back from buying food for their journey through Samaria. What was their response when they saw Jesus talking to the woman?
Shocked, silent and probably disgusted. Their traditions taught them to avoid Samaritans at all costs and never talk to women unrelated to them.
6. If Jesus had held on to prejudices like his followers, what would have happened?
He would never have talked to the woman and she would not have received forgiveness and a relationship with him as her savior.
*7. In John 4:39-42 what was the end result of Jesus leaving prejudice behind and showing respect to the Samaritan woman?
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because of the woman telling her story and Jesus being willing to love others without prejudice.
If you’d like more information about the Good Samaritan story, check out this article.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
*8. Where do you see prejudice in our culture today?
In the news or on social media we see people treating others with disrespect or even violence. Try to get students to be specific by naming events or situations that they have seen or heard about.
9. Have you ever been unfairly judged like the Samaritan woman?
You might need to remind the students that prejudice comes in many forms. It could mean being judged because of your looks, clothes, intelligence, athletic ability, religion, ethnicity or age.
10. The disciples didn’t have a good opinion of the Samaritan woman in this story. How have you had a negative view of others?
Caution the students to be respectful and not to name others if it would be hurtful. Your students may be very reluctant to speak on this topic if they don’t feel safe. Consider starting the conversation by answering the question yourself.
*11. Read James 2:9. What does this verse mean? How can we break through prejudice toward others?
It means it is a sin to favor some people over others. Let the group respond and then go through the acronym below.
The word CHANGE can help us make a change for the better in our lives and our communities. When we recognize any prejudiced thoughts or actions in our lives we can take these steps…
Confess – tell Jesus about your struggle with prejudice
Holy Spirit – ask to be forgiven and filled with the Spirit
Action – reach out to others who are not accepted or respected
No silence – speak up for those whose voice is not heard
Go – tell others (and remind yourself) about how we are all made in the image of God
Example – be the one to do the right thing
*End the study with prayer, asking God for the ability to forgive those who have hurt you and the strength to treat others with respect and compassion.
For a Deeper Discussion:
If someone in your group wants to talk more deeply about this topic at a later time, read this together and talk about how it applies to their life and yours.
When prejudice happens there is deep hurt, and pain that comes from being treated unjustly. God asks us to forgive those who have hurt or wronged us. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that people won’t be held accountable. God will hold them accountable even if we do not see justice right away. Forgiveness does not mean overlooking or excusing offenses. Instead, it is a decision to let go of feelings of resentment or revenge toward a person or group that has harmed you, whether they deserve your forgiveness or not. This kind of forgiveness happens by asking the Holy Spirit to give you the power to let go of hurt and allow God to accomplish justice.
If you have to be around people who continue to cause you hurt and pain, tell a trusted adult the truth and get help. You have been made in God’s image and are loved and valued by Him. He thinks so much of you that he allowed his son Jesus to die just so he could be with you, now and forever. Ask him for guidance about how to seek help in your situation. He loves you and wants the best for you.
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.