God desires a relationship with us. That’s why He created us in the first place. When we sinned and broke that relationship, God continued to pursue us. God sacrificed His only Son to make it possible for us to have a relationship with Him again.
Jesus demonstrated friendship in the most generous way possible. He showed us the greatest love when He laid down His life for His friends. He went to the cross, not on principle or for a cause, but because of love and wanting to be with us forever.
Friendship is a reflection of the character of God.
Key Question: What makes someone a good friend? At this phase in their life, kids are starting to experience the ups and downs of friendship. That’s why we start with a foundational question to help them wrestle with what God says about having strong friendships with others. If they can recognize the qualities God desires for friendship, they’ll not only choose friends who exhibit those, but hopefully will put them into practice for themselves.
We start the month with something Jesus said in John 13:34, I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you, (NIrV). Along with that, we’ll take a look at one of the most famous friendships in the entire Bible: David and Jonathan. These guys went through a lot together. From making a promise to help each other to escaping the dangers of Jonathan’s own father, King Saul, they showed us exactly what it meant for friends to love each other.
Bottom Line: Friends love one another. Loving our friends often means putting aside what we want to give our friends what they need. We pray that kids will learn how they can show love to their friends in everyday situations at home and school.
Key Question: What does it mean to accept a friend? Even kids will tell you that some people are easier to get along with than others. But just because we get along with some people better than others, doesn’t mean we ignore them or treat them poorly. We’ll help kids figure out how they can be friendly and accept others in a way that honors God.
In Romans 15:7, Paul writes, Christ has accepted you. So accept one another in order to bring praise to God, (NIrV). We see this played out perfectly through Paul and Barnabus. Paul had a terrible reputation, one that was well deserved. But after his encounter with Jesus, Paul changed. Barnabus believed that about Paul, accepted him, and stood up for him as he introduced Paul to the rest of the apostles.
Bottom Line: Friends accept one another. We pray that kids start to realize that regardless of how people dress, what they own, or are able to do, we are called to accept them and show them how much God loves them with our friendship.
Key Question: When a friend hurts you, how do you respond? When kids are tweenagers, it doesn’t take long for best friends to become worst enemies. We hope to guide them through figuring out strategies for how they can respond when they get hurt by a friend. It’s inevitable that friends will get into an argument, but when kids are equipped with how to respond, forgiveness might be an easier option for building bridges in the broken relationship.
In Colossians 3:13, Paul writes, Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you, (NIrV). Towards the end of the book of John we see through Jesus and Peter. After denying Jesus three times, Peter was feeling guilty and ashamed. But Jesus still had plans for Peter. Jesus forgave Peter and restored the broken friendship. And when we put our faith in Jesus, Jesus offers that same forgiveness to us. In turn, we can offer forgiveness to others.
Bottom Line: Friends forgive one another. While it’s true that people will do things that hurt us, we need to be willing to let it go and forgive because God forgave us first.
Key Question: How can you be a friend this week? At some point in a person’s life, he or she is going to need someone they can trust to help them through it. Kids know what’s happening in their friends’ lives. However, they don’t always know how to help. Through the discussion this week, we hope to help kids come up with simple ideas they can put into practice to encourage those friends no matter what they’re going through.
We close out the month with something Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, So encourage each other with the hope you have. Build each other up. In fact, that is what you are doing, (NIrV). When Job experienced trial after trial, his friends decided to help. They didn’t bring meals or tell jokes. Rather, they came along side and grieved with Job. Now, we find out they didn’t always get it right, but for that first week, they let Job know that they were there for him.
Bottom Line: Friends encourage one another. Kids might not always know what to say or do when it comes to helping cheer up their friends. We pray they discover that they can encourage each other even if it simply means being a shoulder to lean on.