Each of us is born with a desire to love and be loved.
The influences and pressures that surround junior high students on a daily basis will try to tell them how to fill that need.
It’s a time in life that can often be confusing and frustrating when emptiness is the end result.
Use this lesson to help students understand that God loves them in a way that no one else can – no matter what.
– Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry
JUNIOR HIGH MINISTRY LESSON ON GOD’S LOVE
Written by Tiffany Hollums
Bible: 1 John 3:1-3
Bottom Line: God loves us so deeply.
Clothespins in four colors (about 50 of each color)
Clothes pins with a heart on them – one for each student
OPENING GAME: LOVE TAG
Divide the group into four different teams and assign a color to each team, which matches the colors of the clothespins.
Give each team their 50 clothespins and explain that when you say ‘Go,’ they will try to put their clothespins on members from the other teams.
They cannot put the clothespins in people’s hair, face or ‘bathing suit’ areas.
They can also take off the clothespins they are tagged with and try to put them on other people.
One twist is that at the end of the game, if you have your color of clothespin tagged on you, it is minus 20 points.
Say ‘go’ and let the game begin.
Give the teams 5-10 minutes to tag and then call ‘time.’
Have teams total up how many of each color they were tagged with, but each clothespin of their own color is minus 20 points.
Have fun tallying up the numbers and give the teams a point for each clothespin they put on another team.
Then subtract 20 points for each clothespin a team has of their own color.
If there were one word that I could write to describe how you think other people see you, what would it be?
Grab a few clothespins and write down these words.
Maybe you would write ‘smart’ or ‘athletic’ or maybe you can help fill-in some words for me (pause to see if anyone will be brave to give some examples, if not, maybe add some words that would be said if they were to share out loud: funny, loner, popular, nerd)
And what would be the words that you would write for yourself if you were truly honest?
You fill in the blank….
What if I were to write this word: Loved. (Write LOVED on a clothespin)
Would you say that word ‘fits’ you?
Because if there is one word that I could choose for each of you, it would be this word: Loved.
What does it look like to truly love and be loved?
This sounds like a simple question that should have a very simple answer, but think about the crazy ways that we look for love.
The things and the lengths that people have gone to find love.
How do songs describe love?
And is what the movies and songs and images portray really love?
Do you think that any of us can truly grasp what ‘love’ is?
Can you think of a moment in your life when you felt truly loved? (Give them a chance to share)
Share a moment in your own life when you felt truly and deeply loved.
Yet, what if the perfect picture of love is right in front of us?
Read 1 John 3:1-3.
God loves us – and He doesn’t have to.
Yet, day after day, mistake after mistake, God loves us and calls us His children.
Imagine that you are an adult.
You have a child.
A frustrating, independent, stubborn child who insists at every moment that they are NOT going to listen to you.
If you say ‘right’, they say ‘left.’
If you say the sky is blue, they will argue that it is in fact red.
Maybe some of us live this out with our own parents!
But day after day, you love that child…no matter what.
No matter how much they might push you away or tell you that they hate you: you love them.
They are your child.
And the scripture says that God ‘lavishes’ us with love.
He doesn’t just love us a little or put up with us.
NO, He loves us to overflowing.
It is a love that is so amazing and so crazy that the world doesn’t get it.
They see how God loves us, and they just scratch their heads saying “I don’t get it.”
Because really, it makes no sense.
God loves us and calls us His children…. even when most of the time we don’t get it either.
I mean, when was the last time that you really stopped just to think about how much God loves you?
And in fact, maybe you are sitting here thinking that these are just ‘churchy’ words… that surely I’m not talking about you.
God loves other people, but couldn’t possibly love you.
But please listen to me, and know that I do want you to take this personally.
God loves you.
And there is nothing that you can do about it or to change that love.
Ask someone to read this quote:
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”–Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
There are so many ways that we can define ourselves, aren’t there?
We say that we are athletic or smart or dumb or funny… but when have you thought to define yourself as ‘one beloved by God’?
As you leave today, each person is going to be ‘tagged’ with a clothespin.
Pass out the clothespins.
Look at it and read the word. Beloved.
THIS is who you are: You are beloved by God.
And whatever anyone else, including yourself says about you over the next few days, I want you to try to let THIS thought stay with you: You are loved by God.
Always have been and always will be.
No matter what.
And THAT should change everything.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What were some of the words you thought about that could be written for you that might surprise others?
How does it make you feel to hear that you are loved by God?
What questions come to your mind when you hear this? What worries creep in when you hear this?
How could really believing that God loves you change how you feel about yourself?
Now think about others: How should it change the way you treat others knowing that THEY are loved by God?
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