Theme: First impressions.
1. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, Paul tells his readers to be patient with everyone. Sometimes that’s very hard to do. Can you think of someone in your life with whom you have trouble being patient?
2. In Luke 19:1-9, Jesus met a man named Zacchaeus, who was the chief tax collector for the Roman government in Israel. He was wealthy because he was a cheat. When he collected the taxes, he would collect extra money to keep for himself. Everyone knew he did it, and everyone hated him for it. He was probably the most hated person in the entire town of Jericho…until Jesus came to town.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but was too short to see over other people, and there was no one in Jericho willing to help him. So he climbed a big tree to watch Jesus walking by. Imagine his amazement when Jesus stopped under the tree and called up, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” As you listen to this episode, imagine how it must feel to be hated by everyone, and then how it would feel to have someone be nice to you.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone”
In this episode, Liz and his friends learn that they shouldn’t give up on people based on first impressions.
In Luke 19:1-9, when Zacchaeus came down from the tree and took Jesus to his home, everyone else in Jericho must have muttered, “Why on earth would Jesus go to the house of the most obnoxious, the most hated, the biggest cheat in this whole area?” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to Jesus, “Look, LORD! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and I will pay back everyone I have cheated four times the amount I took from them!
How does knowing the story of Zacchaeus help us deal with annoying people in our lives? First, don’t give up on them. Maybe Jesus has a cool plan for their lives that you can’t see yet. Second, pray for patience and strength and wisdom and anything else you need! Also, pray for that person and work to see her/him as created in the image of God. Finally, do a self-evaluation and think about what you do that could be annoying to others. Maybe there is someone out there that is praying for patience when dealing with you!
Play a game of musical chairs with your family or friends! Put chairs in a circle, with one less chair than the number of players. Choose someone to play music and stop it at random times. The players walk around the circle while the music plays. When the music stops, everyone sits down on a chair as fast as they can. The player left without a place to sit is “out.” Remove a chair and play again. Keep playing until only one player is left. After the game, think about these questions: What did it feel like to be the last person playing? What did it feel like to be “out”? What does it mean to leave someone out? Have you ever not included someone on purpose—or have you ever been the one excluded? Who was Jesus especially good at including? How does Jesus want us to treat one another?