Friday, February 08, 2008

This week's Sabbath School lesson: loving the different

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV).
This week's lesson shouldn't be too controversial -- thanks to 50-years of the Civil Rights Movement, just about everyone should be willing to agree that racism is a sin. And most of your class members will be open to the idea (at least in theory) that God loves illegal immigrants just as much as He loves Americans.

But before you close this week's lesson by forming a circle, joining hands, and singing "Kumbaya," you might might want to ask what difference all this will make in the behavior of your class members. Who will they encounter in the next week, for instance, who is "different" -- and how can they reach out to that person with God's love?

And if they don't typically encounter people who are all that "different" . . . then what difference does this week's lesson really make?

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