Note: Today’s post (Discrimination and Favoritism) can be used as the basis of a teen Bible lesson.
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What would happen at your church this Sunday if a tramp wandered in from the highway? With services already started, where would an usher seat him? What if a new kid about your age comes to your youth group? He wears none of the “in” clothes, he rides a bicycle and his mother combs his hair. Which people in your group will invite him to sit with them?
James knew what it was like to be poor. Nobody in his small town had much money but his family probably had less than most. His parents gave the temple offering typical of poor people (Luke 2:24). They tried to raise at least seven children (Matthew 13:55, 56) on a carpenter’s wage. Along with Paul, Titus, Barnabas, John and Peter, James cared about the way the poor were treated (Galatians 2:1 – 10).
Exercise #1: Preconceived Expectations and First Impressions
You have been invited to a party at the last-minute and you don’t know any of the guests. The host, however, has been able to give you a little information about each one. Based on a scale of 1 – 6, estimate the amount of time you would like to spend with each guest. Who would be among the most popular guests at the party? A rating of “1” would give that guest the most time, while a rating of “6” would give the least time. The identities of these individuals are revealed at the end of this post.
Guest A – Didn’t anyone tell this guy it was a formal party? He’s wearing old clothes and smells like he lives in a cave. Seat me up wind!
Guest B – He wants to be a politician, but he never wins elections. No wonder. He’s homely, awkward and speaks in a squeaky tenor.
Guest C – How did this guy ever get through school? He flunked math as a child and folks say he hasn’t gotten any smarter.
Guest D – Pregnant, unmarried and barely a child herself. What kind of future will she have?
Guest E – Charming, assertive, confident. He not only started his own political party; he’s won the national election.
Guest F – This guy used to be a lawyer. Now he’s content wandering around the country, earning a few bucks here and there as a craftsman. He’s been arrested so many times he’s lost count.
Exercise #2: Breaking Down Barriers
Examine each of the following texts and summarize each story. Determine the social barrier(s) that were broken and brainstorm reasons for breaking the barriers (why the barriers were broken).
Matthew 15:21 – 28
Mark 1:40 – 42
John 4:4 – 26
James 2:1 – 13
Exercise #3: Everyone Has Unique Value
Take out a sheet of paper and create 3 columns. In the first column, list types of (or basis for) worldly discrimination. In the second column, list the impact on the feelings of the victim of the discrimination. In the third column, list what our attitude should be when we follow Jesus.
The Bible is clear that discrimination (or favoritism) of any kind is totally unacceptable in the church. A change in our attitude toward others can make a great difference in some people’s lives. How many have we hurt because we have judged by our artificial standards and not God’s absolute standards? Think of one person that you have discriminated against recently (or made an unfair judgment about). Everyday for the next week, pray for this person and pray for your attitude toward him or her. Purposefully reach out to this person in some tangible way.
Answers for Exercise #1
Guest A – John the Baptist
Guest B – Abraham Lincoln
Guest C – Thomas Edison
Guest D – Mary (mother of Jesus)
Guest E – Adolf Hitler
Guest F – apostle Paul