As we recognize a holiday that's all about love, this game and lesson will remind students to take time to be aware of those around them who can be difficult to love.
Use this preteen game and lesson to teach students that once we experience God’s love, we should respond by sharing it with others – even the “unlovable.”
-Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry
PRETEEN MINISTRY GAME FOR VALENTINE’S DAY
Bible: Luke 6:27; John 13:4-5, 34-35
Bottom Line: Once we experience God’s love, we should respond by sharing it with others – even the “unlovable.”
Optional: Pen and paper
OPENING GAME: OPPOSITE SHOUT OUT
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Have students get into pairs.
Explain that this game is really simple to play.
Choose the person in the pair with the closest birthday will go first.
That person will call out a word, such as "day" and the other person must respond with the opposite, "night."
Challenge them to get creative as they think of opposites.
A variation of this game would be to have students get into pairs and instead of calling out words, write down as many opposites as possible.
The team with the most listed opposites will win.
After the game, say: Today, we are talking about a valuable lesson Jesus taught us about opposites.
His actions taught us to love unlovable people.
Ask: Can you think of any other examples in the Bible where Jesus teaches us to do the opposite of what we think, or everyone else says we should do?
Allow a few responses from students.
Some examples might include:
- To be a leader, be a servant
- To find life, die to yourself
- To become wealthy, give your money away
- To get back at your enemy, love him
Say: If you have brothers and sisters, younger or older than you, you may have felt at some point that they are the most unlovable people in the world!
That is especially true when you aren’t getting along or when you feel that they’ve been given something you don’t have.
In spite of their nagging, tattling, or temper-tantrum throwing abilities, you've probably heard your parents respond with something like, "They're your brother, and you've gotta love ‘em!”
Or, the beloved, “You may be mad now, but you know you still love her…She’s your sister!”
God calls us to love everyone, even the most unlovable people!
As we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s dig into what God says about loving unlovable people and discover how to apply these truths from God’s Word to our lives.
Imagine that you were alive as Jesus was walking the earth.
You knew of him.
You had seen his ministry, and you knew about his message.
However, you weren’t up in the upper room at the Last Supper, the night before his death.
And now you’re hearing about what happened in the room as Jesus ate with his disciples.
Let’s go back to that night and look at it in a different light.
Perhaps it will challenge your thinking!
When we think of Jesus' disciples, we often think of a group of sold-out Jesus followers.
These guys had to be the real deal, right?!
In fact, these men were no superhumans.
They were ordinary people just like us.
In fact, several were fishermen.
One was a tax collector.
One was a Zealot and another a thief.
Jesus’ love for the unlovable was evident even as his earthly ministry began.
As you read through the Bible of the stories, of the miracles he performed, you’ll notice that many had to do with unlovable people.
The lowest, sickest, dirtiest people often saw Jesus’ love when they saw no one else’s.
At the Last Supper, Jesus sat in the same room, at the same table with a bunch of people whom he loved, yet knew were about to betray him.
Jesus knew that it would be those people that were about to deny him in front of the guards.
He knew they would desert him.
Talk about a bunch of people who were hard to love!
What does Jesus do, though?
Read John 13:4-5.
“Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
Imagine the weight of that!
Jesus, surrounded by a bunch of guys who don’t deserve his love or respect, begins to wash their feet.
Washing feet at this time was something that the lowest servant in the home would do.
Surely not Jesus!
It symbolized humility and servanthood.
Jesus shows us in his example of how to love the unlovable.
We aren’t called to tolerate them or make fun of them.
We aren’t supposed to pretend that we love them
Instead, Jesus calls us to serve them.
Serving others gives us an easy way to see how we should love.
You see, love isn’t some mushy emotion only for grown-ups.
Love is an action.
Serving someone has a profound effect on the way we see them.
If you are always looking for a way to help someone else, it is tough to think of them as worthless.
It is also very hard to stay mad at them!
So, in today's time, it would probably be bizarre and awkward to whip out a towel and wash a bully's feet, but serving them starts with praying for them.
Then, begin to look for opportunities to serve.
Maybe it is as simple as holding a door open for them when they’re carrying a band instrument or books.
Maybe it is spotting someone a quarter when she’s short for a snack or soda.
Throughout all of Jesus' ministry, he went about seeking to shed some light on how to love unlovable people.
He called out the disciples to follow him.
He healed the sick, the people no one wanted to associate with.
He ate with sinners.
He spent time with the outcasts.
When we experience God’s love in a real way in our own lives, our response should be to share his love with others.
You can likely think of quite a few unlovable people in your class or at your school.
They're the kids who seem always to be left out and without a friend.
They’re “unlovable” because they seem different than everyone else.
Or maybe it is the bully.
The mean kid.
The one everyone tries to avoid because they’d like to keep their lunch money.
They’re “unlovable” because they never show any love, so why should someone love them?
As wild as that is to think about, it’s true.
God loves them.
And if God loves us then shouldn’t we find a way to extend God’s love on earth to the people we encounter every single day?
Even if they’re too distant for a close relationship, a simple act of kindness is a way to show love.
Jesus says in John 13:35, that the love we have for one another will prove to the world that we are his followers.
Jesus also says in Luke 6:27, that we are to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.
It is a natural human tendency to love only those who love us first.
God challenges us to turn that mindset upside down and see things differently.
What if we loved others first?
Maybe then we would be able to offer the world an undeniable witness of God’s love and power at work.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Are there people in your life who are difficult to love?
Why is it difficult to love them?
2. Why did Jesus humble himself and wash the disciples’ feet?
3. How can you love others who don’t love you?
4. How did Jesus demonstrate his love for us?
5. How does God’s love change our lives?
6. What opportunities do you have to serve others?
7. How can we serve others as a church? As a group?
8. Have you ever been unlovable? How did people respond to you?
9. Tell me a few times that Jesus reached out to those around him?
10. How can you show others God’s love this Valentine’s Day?
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