A discussion starter exploring the values we place on people. Two incidents from the life of Jesus help to illustrate the value Jesus places on people, including ourselves.
Divide your young people into groups of 8. Ask them to imagine that they have been shipwrecked, but everyone has climbed into the safety of a lifeboat floating nearby. Unfortunately there is very little food in the rations. You estimate that it is many days journey to the nearest land and there is not enough food to keep everyone alive. For the majority to survive, two people must be cast adrift on a nearby timber beam. They have no food, the waters are shark infested and it will mean certain death! However, each passenger has the chance to plead his or her case to stay in the boat and survive.
Each of the young people plays the role of one of the passengers. After drawing an occupation from a hat to role play, every person has one minute to say why they should stay in the lifeboat.
Occupations for each passenger could include; doctor, lawyer,
policeman, actor, school child, elderly lady, soccer player, artist, fashion model, unemployed person, youth pastor, social worker, plumber. Make sure you have enough occupations for the entire group.
After listening to each passenger, the members of the lifeboat(s) must cast two votes to decide who is set adrift. Add up the votes for the result.
After the role play, review the decisions made in each lifeboat. Discuss why you think certain choices were made. Why did you vote for..? How did you decide what value to place on people? Was there agreement or a wide difference of opinion? Did you listen to the arguments each person made and cast a vote on merit, or had you already decided who would be set adrift? Do you think you made the right choices? What do our selections teach us about our values?
It's easy to value people by what they do, or how much they earn, or what they look like. How do you think God looks at people? The same or different? We can get clues by looking at how Jesus valued people. Look together at two stories from the life of Jesus as recorded by Luke.
- How do you think the leader valued the woman?
- What would you have thought? Refer back to the role play?
- How did Jesus react?
- What do you think was the town's opinion of Zacchaeus?
- What would you have thought if you were in their shoes?
- What kind of people in your community or your school might also be classed as 'unpopular'?
- How did Jesus show that he valued people and what effect did it have on the individuals concerned?
(The leader in charge of the synagogue couldn't see beyond his rules to Jesus' compassion in healing the woman. Jesus reminds us that peoples need is more important than rules and regulations. Tax collectors were among the most unpopular people in Israel? Despite being a cheat and a traitor, Jesus only showed Zacchaeus kindness and compassion.)
But what about us? What value do you think Jesus places on you? Briefly retell the Old Testament story of the prophet Samuel looking for a new king for Israel (1 Samuel 16: 1-13). Emphasise v7,
God looks at our hearts, not our bank account, not our outward appearance, but the real you and me. He knows what we're like... what we're really like. He knows about everything we've done, including the things we're not proud of, but he loves us just the same. Read John 3:16-21 and close with a time of quite reflection and prayer appropriate to your group.
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