Note to the Teacher
The key phrase in this scripture (for this lesson) is “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” The ice breaker is fun and competitive and gets students to let their guards down a little. The discussion encourages students to consider that because God doesn’t judge us based on how we look or what our cultural heritage is, we shouldn’t do that to others. The activity allows students to explore the dangers of excluding people based on how they look, where they’re from, what their culture is, and so on. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Spoons (10 minutes)
Play the card game “Spoons.” There should be one less spoon than there are players in a central location along with a deck of cards. Each player takes a turn taking one card from the deck of cards. Once a player has four of a kind, that player grabs a spoon. Once a spoon is grabbed, everyone must grab a spoon. The player who doesn’t get a spoon is out. If they first player who grabbed a spoon does not have four of a kind, that player is out.
If playing online, pair students up and have them play “odd or even.” In this game, the person with the first name who begins with the earliest letter in the alphabet is “odd,” and the other student is “even.” On the count of three, each person in the pair holds up one or two fingers. If the total is odd, the odd student wins. If the total is even, the even student wins. Keep matching up the winning students with each other until there is a champion.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our Scripture reading today happens almost immediately after last week’s lesson in the town of Joppa. Peter has had a vision and he is explaining that vision to the believers in Jerusalem, but they are upset with him for eating in the house of a Gentile.
Read Acts 11:1-18.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
The believers in Jerusalem are upset that Peter went into the house of a Gentile (non-Jew). Peter is explaining that God gave him a vision that showed him that Gentiles are no longer “un-clean.”
- How do you think the “circumcised believers” in this story felt about Peter going into the house of an uncircumcised Gentile and eating with him? (Reminder, this is most likely the first time that they had seen a revered Jew like Peter do something like this.) Why do you think they felt the way they did?
- How do you think Peter felt when the “circumcised believers” criticized him for what he did?
- How do you think Peter felt having fellow believers criticize his actions that he believed were from God?”
- Why is change often so hard for people to deal with?
Read 1 Samuel 16:7.
This scripture comes from the story of the prophet Samuel anointing David as king.
- In what ways do you draw conclusions or make determinations about people based on how they look?
- Have you ever had someone decide something about you based on how you look, who you hang out with, what you eat, what you wear, where you go to school, who you hang out with, and so on?
- Why is our natural tendency to make judgments about people based on outside appearances? If we know God wants us to not do that, what makes us do it anyway?
We are marred by sin, choices, and things that seem to want to separate us from God. Part of the consequences of that is that we judge people. God loves all and looks at the heart, not at outward appearances.
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Give half the group a blue card and the other half a red card. Give the students with blue cards a full set of brand-new markers, crayons, or colored pencils to play with, and give the students with a red card one marker, crayon, or colored pencil that is not in good shape. (If playing online, have students get a fully functioning pen or marker and either an unsharpened pencil or a pale-yellow crayon and paper for this activity.)
Set up a whiteboard and give one student on each team a word that they must draw on the whiteboard with the materials. Their team has to guess the word in sixty seconds.
Next, give all of the students with long sleeves a blue card; while you give all of the students with short sleeves a red card. Then, hand another clue to a player on each team and repeat the guessing.
Finally, give all students with glasses blue cards; give students without glasses the red cards. Play again, following the same process.
If the above categories don’t work, find some of your own. Just make sure some students receive blue cards and therefore better drawing utensils, while other students receive red cards and therefore inferior drawing utensils.
- How did you feel when you got drawing utensils that were worse than the other groups? How did you feel when you got better ones? Did you have compassion for those that had the lesser resources?
- People have a tendency to create barriers where God would prefer us to break those barriers down. Too often these barriers spring up around those “who have” and those who “have not” and at one point in time even those who are “clean” and those who are “not clean.” Peter’s actions demonstrate that God is for all. We are called to be witnesses to all, using what we have been given.
Total time: 50 minutes
- A deck of cards (or more than one deck if you have a big group)
- Red and blue cards or construction paper cut into smaller rectangles
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Paper or a whiteboard
 Jewish law was written so that the Jews would stand apart from the nations around them. These laws included who they could interact with and what they could eat. The idea is that the Jews would stand out as a nation so fully devoted to God that other nations around them could look to them and know God. But, as humans often do, things got twisted to a point that there were actual people who were considered dirty and not worthy by the Jews. The vision God gave Peter corrects this misunderstanding.