Supplies: Bible; different colored crayons, one for each family member (No crayons? Use coffee mugs, flowers, postage stamps, whatever you have—as long as each one is different.)
Give each member of your family a crayon (or whatever you’ve collected). Have each person describe their item. You don’t need to hide it from each other, just tell about the crayon you’re holding. Once everyone has shared, think about how you each talked about your item. Did your descriptors focus on how your item was LIKE the others, or did you tell more things about how it was DIFFERENT? Did you say the crayon you were holding was “made of wax” or did you say it was “(insert color word)”? When we look at things, we usually focus on what makes things different. We like to be individuals, and we see differences as what make us unique. Unfortunately, our differences can also be what divides us. If we’re not careful, we take our differences and start putting the people around us into to groups: Us and Them.
Read Luke 9:51-56 together. If you have very young children, try retelling the passage as a story.
James and John got really sidetracked by differences. Ironically, they were on their way to Jerusalem so Jesus could give His life for ALL people. But when the Samaritans refused them passage, all James and John could see were the things that separated them. The Samaritans became “Thems.” THEY were descended from Jews who disobeyed God’s laws and married pagans, people who didn’t believe in the one true God. THEY were half-breeds. THEY were not real Jews. THEY didn’t worship God the right way. THEY didn’t care who Jesus was. And because of that, James and John felt THEY deserved to die. Thankfully, Jesus set them straight. The Son of Man didn’t come to condemn “them.” He came to save “us”—all of us. James and John forgot that their own sins made them just as deserving of a fireball strike.
Most of us have some people in our lives we think of as “Thems.” It could be the noisy neighbors across the street who have different colored skin and speak a different language. Maybe it’s that group of kids at school who wear different clothes, clothes you’ve never seen in any store ever. Or maybe it’s the guy stopped next to you at the red light who listens to really different music really loudly. For me it was the girls in my college dorm who cooked different food that made the whole floor smell…different. When we think about people as “Thems,” we automatically start holding them at arm’s length. Their differences become reasons to exclude them from our fellowship and, as a result, from God’s fellowship as well. Yes, we have differences, but the things that connect us—our similarities—are the most essential. God created all of US out of His love. And every single one of US has betrayed that love through sin. But His love was so overwhelming, that He send His Son to die for US. Now God calls every single one of US His child and waits for US to come home to Him. You see, we’re not as different as you may think…
Let’s bring this home. Take some time and share some of your “Thems” with each other. It may be hard, but being honest and open, confessing the people we tend to judge, will help us overcome this barrier. Share what differences you often focus on. Then talk about what you can do to start reaching out to “Them” and start including them with “Us.” Close by confessing your “Them” thoughts to God and asking for His help in changing your thoughts to “Us.”
**If you have very young children, take time to talk about how people are different. You could take a walk, visit a playground, or read a book or watch a short TV show that features people from another culture. Have your child share ways these people are different from him or her. Then point out ways they are the same: eyes, ears, they like to play, etc. End by explaining that another similarity is that God loves them just like He loves your child.
Father God, You created all of us. Each adult, each teen, each child was created out of Your abundant, ever-present love. Forgive us for taking the wonderful gift of diversity and using it as a method to divide. Help us, Lord, to see the world as You do: children of the Most High God. Help me to love everyone like I love myself. Amen.
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