A Message to Christians
Main Point: A Christian’s number one obligation is to be like Christ. Since Jesus loved everyone, so must we.
The Discussion Starter:
YouTube is loaded with videos about how Christians should live. Some are uploaded by those outside the faith who only seek to tear down what we believe and strive for. But some are uploaded by fellow believers who seek to encourage the rest of us. That’s why this video is so refreshing. It’s by a girl named Emanuella, and she basically confesses her failure to love others like Jesus loved others. Then she invites those watching her video to join the movement of love. The video is simple, but significant, as well.
The Online Video:
The video is available online at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YXINEYdnkY
Pretty simple, huh? This message to all Christians comes from one who has failed to do what she knew was right. She knew she was supposed to love others, but she didn’t. She knew her number one obligation in life was to be like Jesus, but she fell far short of that. She knows that Christians are supposed to love everyone, but she hadn’t. After her confession of failing to love like Jesus loved, she invited us to join her in a revolution of love. Since Jesus loved everyone, so must we. Let’s talk about starting a love revolution.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and a role model we look up to in life.
- ASK A FEW: Early in the video, the girl said she once thought she was a “good Christian.” What did she mean when she said she was a “good Christian”?
- ASK A FEW: Why did she say her “identity” didn’t match her “heart”?
- ASK A FEW: She said she treated atheists/agnostic people with disdain. Do you see that with other Christians you know? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: She told us to Google the word “religism.” What does that mean and why does she instruct us to stop it? (Leaders – This shouldn’t be a problem with the number of smart phones in the typical youth group, but you may want to look it up beforehand, just in case.)
- ASK A FEW: Before she tells us to love others, she confesses that she’s actually failed at doing that. Is her advice more helpful to you because she’s failed, or less helpful to you because she’s failed? Why?
- ASK A FEW: How did Jesus treat those who disagreed with Him?
- ASK A FEW: What was His expectation of us? How did He want us to treat those who disagree with us or hate us?
Read the following passage:
Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
During out time together, we watched a simple video from a girl who wanted us to avoid the mistake she had made in loving others. She had failed to love those who disagreed with her. She knew that Jesus had called her to love EVERYONE, even those who were her enemies and those who despised her. She invited us to join a movement of love.
I wonder, what would that look like? What would life be like if we truly loved others the way Jesus loved them? Jesus told us that we would have a reward if we loved others the way He wanted us to. We were also promised that the reward would be great. At the very least, if we loved others the way He tells us to, we would have more friends and less enemies. That would be great, right?
Look, I’m not going to tell you that loving others is easy. It’s definitely not easy to love those who disagree with us, or those who hate us, or those who try to tear us down. But Jesus did it, and He commands us to do the same. I think that if we truly loved others the way Jesus loved them – even if they hated us – it would start a love movement. Even a revolution.
I know because of the story of Jesus.
And the story of Immaculée Ilibagiza. (The following story is taken with permission from www.ItsLikeThis.org.)
Immaculée could hear the killers calling her name. For weeks, she and seven other women silently hid in a tiny shower, trying to escape the holocaust raging through their native Rwanda. The genocide had already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
For days on end, she wondered if she would survive…or die like the rest of her family.
Raised in a Catholic home by peace-loving parents, Immaculée’s world was thrown into chaos in the spring of 1994 when genocide broke out in her country. Hutu tribesmen began to systematically, and brutally, murder Tutsi men, women, and children by the thousands. Hutu warriors wielding machetes – and sometimes guns and grenades given to them by the government – would break into the homes of Tutsis, pull them into the street, and slaughter them. All across Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were being killed by their neighbors, co-workers, and fellow citizens.
Being a Tutsi meant that Immaculée was forced to hide to survive. Within hours of the violent outbreak, she found shelter in the home of a local pastor who had a small bathroom attached to his bedroom. For months, she was crammed into a small space with seven other women.
During that long, soul-straining time, boasts of murder would float through the tiny window above their heads. The horrific accounts chilled the women not just because of their brutality, but also because they were being carried out by former friends. Immaculée could do nothing to help her loved ones as they suffered outside; meanwhile, Tutsi women were publically raped and killed, helpless Tutsi infants were left for wild animals to devour in the streets, and Tutsi men were decapitated.
After 91 horrific days, Immaculée emerged from the shower, half the woman she once was…literally. Her diet of scraps caused her to melt from 115 pounds down to 65 pounds. But her physical pain could not compare to the heartache she was about to face.
Immaculée soon discovered that her mother had been chopped to death with machetes, while her father was murdered after being betrayed by local governmental leaders just a few days later. Vianney, her baby brother, had been killed when the deadly and murderous Interahamwe fired machine guns into a helpless and unarmed crowd.
Her closest friend in life, her older brother Damascene, did not survive the war, either. The vibrant and talented young man with enough intelligence to warrant a Master’s degree had been betrayed by a close friend. When Damascene was captured, his tormentors stripped him of his clothes and threatened to cut his head open to see if they could find his Master’s degree inside his brain. After mutilating his body, they finally did just that.
And so, when the war finally ended, Immaculée was left with one surviving family member, an older brother who was studying abroad.
Several people tried to bring about justice in the aftermath of the horrific cruelty; Semana, a family friend of Immaculée’s was one of them. In the shadow of human carnage, he was charged with arresting and detaining those responsible for the mass murder inflicted on his fellow Tutsis. When Immaculée visited him at the prison, he knew why she’d come.
He left her in his office, and quickly returned with a disheveled looking man in his clutches. Immaculée recognized him immediately; his name was Felicien, and she had played with his Hutu children during their childhood. It was Felicien’s voice that had taunted her while she hid in the shower. When he saw Immaculée, he collapsed to the floor.
What happened next is best told in Immaculée’s own words.
“Stand up, killer!” Semana shouted. “Stand up and explain to this girl why her family is dead. Explain to her why you murdered her mother and butchered her brother. Get up, I said! Get up and tell her!” Semana screamed even louder, but the battered man remained hunched and kneeling, too embarrassed to stand and face me.
His dirty clothing hung from his emaciated frame in tatters. His skin was sallow, bruised, and broken; and his eyes were filmed and crusted. His once handsome face was hidden beneath a filthy, matted beard; and his bare feet were covered in open, running sores.
I wept at the sight of his suffering. Felicien had let the devil enter his heart, and the evil had ruined his life like a cancer in his soul. He was now the victim of his victims, destined to live in torment and regret. I was overwhelmed with pity for the man.
“He looted your parents’ home and robbed your family’s plantation, Immaculée. We found your dad’s farm machinery at his house, didn’t we?” Semana yelled at Felicien. “After he killed your mother and Damascene, he kept looking for you…he wanted you dead so he could take over your property. Didn’t you, pig?” Semana shouted again.
I flinched, letting out an involuntary gasp. Semana looked at me, stunned by my reaction and confused by the tears streaming down my face. He grabbed Felicien by the shirt collar and hauled him to his feet. “What do you have to say to her? What do you have to say to Immaculée?”
Felicien was sobbing. I could feel his shame. He looked up at me for only a moment, but our eyes met. I reached out, touched his hands lightly, and quietly said what I’d come to say.
“I forgive you.”
My heart eased immediately, and I saw the tension release in Felicien’s shoulders before Semana pushed him out the door and into the courtyard. Two soldiers yanked Felicien up by his armpits and dragged him back toward his cell. When Semana returned, he was furious.
“What was that all about, Immaculée? That was the man who murdered your family. I brought him to you to question…to spit on if you wanted to. But you forgave him! How could you do that? Why did you forgive him?”
I answered him with the truth: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.”
That’s a great story of love that led to forgiveness. What about you? Are you willing to love others the way that Jesus and Immaculée loved?
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.