Main Point: If we want to see life and God clearly, we must live pure lives.
Discussion Starter: Water Bottle Pollution
You’ll need a few ordinary props to pull off this discussion starter: two water bottles without the labels on them…and a few “dirty items” from outside such as a handful of dirt/sand, bird feathers, sticks/twigs, mushrooms, squirrel poop, etc.
With your students gathered around so everyone can see, grab one of the bottles and take a swig from it. Then ask if anyone in the crowd is thirsty. Toss the second bottle of water to whoever raises their hand and give them permission to drink up. In fact, you might even want to toast to good, clean water!
Take a moment to describe the cool, refreshing taste of the water and hold up the bottle so everyone can see it. Talk about how nothing is as crisp on a hot day as a cold drink of water.
Then hold the bottle up to your face so that you can see through the liquid. (This is why you have the labels removed.) Talk about how you can see through the water because it’s clear, clean, and pure.
Lastly, start to talk about things that pollute water. Draw their imagination to a river or stream that’s contaminated and talk about how water that’s polluted is unusable. As you do this, squeeze some of the “dirty items” you collected from outside down into the bottle. Take your time; each time you add something, put the cap on and shake it up. Make sure to add at least 4 to 5 items making each one a bit grosser than the last. As you put in the polluting items, talk about how the water is no longer clean, no longer clear, and no longer pure.
Make sure you hold the bottle of contaminated water in such a way that everyone can see it. You want the students to be able to easily see that the water is not good to taste, nor safe to drink.
Our lives are a lot like these bottles of water. When our lives are clean they bring refreshment to others. When our lives are clear, we have a genuine transparency because there’s nothing to hide. When our lives are pure we bring life to others. But when our lives become dirty, stained, or polluted through sin, we aren’t transparent, we aren’t useful to anyone, and we aren’t able to see life clearly. In fact, that’s what I want us to focus on during our small group discussion. I can’t see through the dirty water in this bottle. If your lives are dirty, you won’t be able to see clearly, either. The Bible has something very specific to say about that, so let’s separate into our discussion groups.
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, everybody take a moment to share your name and you’re your favorite drink.
- ASK A FEW: Which of those dirty items that were put into the water bottle was the grossest to you? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Would you have taken a drink from the polluted water bottle? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever drunk anything that was super gross? Briefly share.
- ASK A FEW: What are some things that contaminate water and make it impure?
- ASK A FEW: What are some things that contaminate our lives and make them impure?
Read the Following Passage:
- Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- ASK A FEW: This is one of Jesus’ teachings. What does He mean when He talks about people who are “pure in heart”?
- ASK A FEW: What is the reward for being pure in heart? What does that mean? (Leaders – This means that we can see God because He is pure. It also means that we will be able to understand His will for our lives because we’re showing Him our commitment to His ways.)
- ASK A FEW: Why is it so important to see God?
- ASK A FEW: The Bible teaches that sin contaminates our lives much like those gross things contaminated the water. Can someone explain what sin is and give some examples? (Leaders – Sin is anything we say, do, or think against God’s perfect will. You may want to make reference to passages such as Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Matthew 15:19, Galatians 5:19, etc.)
- ASK A FEW: What are the consequences of having impurity, or sin, in our lives?
- ASK A FEW: The only way for water to be purified after it’s been contaminated is to be run through a filter. Is there a way for us to be purified after we’ve sinned? If so, what is it?
Read the following passage:
- 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- ASK A FEW: This Bible says we must be willing to confess our sins if we want to be forgiven. Can someone explain how that works?
- ASK A FEW: Is there something you need to be purified from so you can be “pure in heart”? If so, what?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: In what way(s) will your life be changed if you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and purify you from all unrighteousness?
During our time together, we took a perfectly good bottle of drinking water and made it absolutely unusable. We crammed in all sorts of things that none of us would want to drink…even if we were in a desert!
What we learned was that sin contaminates us the exact same way that the debris contaminates the water. There are many consequences to sin, for example, it separates us from God, but one of the worst is that it prevents us from seeing life and God clearly. If we can’t see God clearly, we can’t see our lives clearly, nor can we see ourselves clearly. We won’t know what God’s will is for our lives if we don’t live pure lives.
But the only way to be purified is through Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus came to Earth, as God, to die on the cross for our sins. He took our sin – our contamination – on Himself, and paid the price for our impurity.
If we want to be purified by God, all we need to do is confess our sins to Him and ask Him to forgive us. The Bible promises us that if we do that, God will always forgive us and purify us! That’s an incredible promise!
I hope you choose to do that. I hope you turn your life over to Jesus and ask Him to cleanse you so you can see Him, His will, and His love in a crystal clear fashion.
If you want to talk about this more, come and speak with one of our adult leaders after we close up in prayer. We’d love to chat with you about how much God loves you!
Close in Prayer
Idea by Dan Terrell
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.