- Students will learn God expects us to obey Him.
- Students will learn God expects us to warn people of the consequences of disobeying Him.
- Students will learn God wants us to be happy when people turn away from their sin, even if we don’t like them.
- Students will participate in an activity to encourage them to be loving to those they don’t particularly like or consider themselves our enemies.
Guiding Question: How can we learn from the story of Jonah and love those who are our enemies?
Materials: Paper, markers, crayons, pencils
Procedure: Tell students the story of Jonah. Focus on the feelings Jonah seemed to have for the people of Nineveh. Point out the reason Jonah ran at first, was because he didn’t want God to give the people of Nineveh a chance to repent and be spared. Even after he finally obeyed God, he pouted when the people repented and God spared them. Jonah did not reflect God’s love to the people of Nineveh very well.
Explain that the reason Jonah disliked the people of Nineveh so much was because they were known for being very cruel to their enemies. In fact, they had battled the Jewish people on more than one occasion.
We were created in God’s image. This means we should try to love people the way God does. Notice God was angry with the people of Nineveh for their sins. He loved them enough though to send the prophet Jonah to try and convince them to repent so God wouldn’t need to punish them. When the people repented, God forgave them and didn’t punish them.
For us to love like God, we have to be willing to give the people who are mean to us or consider themselves to be our enemies an opportunity to repent about the ungodly ways they may be treating us. In fact, the bible says in Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36, we are supposed to love our enemies. Ask students what they think it means to love their enemies? What are some of the things enemies do to us today? How can we act differently towards them? Why does God want us to love someone who is mean to us?
If students would like, have them share an incident that made them feel unloving towards someone because of the way they treated them. You may want to mention that sometimes, even though we love people in our family very much, they can do something that makes us mad. Sometimes when that happens, we may treat them like enemies – and not someone we love.
Ask students some ways in which they can be more loving towards family members- especially siblings. You may want to share with them some of the ideas below:
- Remind students God wants them to love, serve and be kind to family members.
- Remind students their family is a TEAM for God.
- Remind students every member of their family has special gifts from God they can use to serve each other, their family and God.
- Remind students to not use ugly words when speaking to anyone.
- Remind students not to tease or say ugly things about anyone.
- Remind students how to end conflicts in Godly ways. (See below)
- Encourage students to express their love for others regularly.
- Help students think of ways to encourage and serve others.
- Encourage students to do these things regularly.
You may also want to review the steps to conflict resolution below and give students common scenarios, so they have additional practice in resolving conflict in godly ways.
- Give themselves time alone to calm down.
- Think about how they feel and why they feel that way.
- Calmly tell each other how they feel, using the following sentences. “I feel ______ when you ______, because _________. I would like _________.
- Don’t use ugly words when talking to each other.
- Repeat what the other person wants and needs in their own words.
- Have the other person tell you their wants and needs again if they believe they were not restated correctly.
- List as many possible solutions to the problem as possible.
- Pick the solution that will help everyone get what they need
With the remaining time, encourage students to make cards for people with whom they may not currently be feeling very loving. Encourage them to think of as many positive things as they can about the other person. They can choose to give the person the card or keep it for themselves to remind them to love the other person. (Younger children may choose to draw pictures rather than have words.)
End class with a discussion of other things students can do to love their enemies. Challenge them to be more loving this week by doing some of the things suggested.