Over the past school year, we’ve enjoyed taking kids through God’s one big story. We’ve traveled through the Bible covering the familiar stories of Abraham and Joseph, Moses and King David. We made it all the way to Jesus, Paul, and the start of the early church.
As the church started, no longer were there just a handful of disciples. These were growing congregations filled with people from all walks of life. And I think you see where I’m going with this: they were pretty much like that middle school band. They didn’t always get along. Sure, every so often, they got it right and there were glimpses of greatness. But they disagreed and argued. They had a hard time forgiving and accepting each other. At times, they even found it difficult to keep worshiping together.
Several of the apostles began writing to these believers, instructing them how to practice getting along and living in harmony with one another. These writings are not presented in the form of a story. They are letters and sermons, delivered by people and for people. They’re historic, but they’re not really a story. This summer may feel a little different, but it’s amazing to read these letters from real people to real people.
To help illustrate these important truths, we’ve wrapped them in a summer-long story about friendship. We’re continuing in July looking at what the New Testament letters have to say about friendship.
Friendship is treating others the way you want to be treated. Each week, we continue looking at a “one another” principle that gives us a framework for loving others the way God loved us. Because these are short verses, we suggest that you take this summer to memorize each one.
Our theme verse for July is Proverbs 17:17, NIrV. “A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.” This verse is a great reminder that friends aren’t just there for each other when everything is going well. They also are there to help when life is hard.
In Week 1, we kick off July back in the book of Romans. We know that it’s not always easy for us to get along with each other. This was also true of the believers in Rome. In Romans 12:16, Paul tells them that friends accept each other regardless of their differences. It’s easy to see how different we are from people around us. God accepts us as we are. When we accept others, we get to help them see how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends accept each other.
In Week 2, we’ll take a closer look at how friends forgive each other. In Colossians 3:13, Paul reminds us that God has forgiven us for everything we’ve ever done wrong! At some point, one of our friends will let us down. We should let go of what we’re holding against them and forgive them because God forgave us first. Putting up with each other means we don’t hold on to the things people might have done to hurt us. When we forgive them, we get to show them how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends forgive each other.
In Week 3, kids will discover how they can encourage each other. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul tells the believers that they should build each other up with how they speak to one another. Basically, friends encourage each other. We have hope because of Jesus. When we share that hope with others, we can encourage them to keep going even when life is tough. Our Bottom Line is: Friends encourage each other.
Finally, in Week 4, we’ll wrap up our summer in the book of Hebrews. This is another letter full of wisdom from God. We will take a look at how friends worship with each other. The writer of Hebrews talks about this in chapter 10 verses 24 and 25. Life can be hard sometimes. Don’t try to go it alone. When we are connected to a community of friends who can encourage us and remind us of God’s love, it makes those times a little easier. We shouldn’t give up meeting together with our Small Group and friends at church. Encourage each other to live out loving God and loving others in every single thing you do. Our Bottom Line is: Friends worship with each other.
We pray this will be a fun end to the summer for kids to learn more about how they can show friendship to everyone.
By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.