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An Heroic Ministry
Verse of the day
YWI - working with...
YWI is pleased to work in association with
Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
Hunger for righteousness
Before you start
MEETING AIM: To question the meaning of righteousness, explore what we hunger for and realise we can choose to thirst for God's way.
BACKROUND PREPARATION: Write on post-it notes the things we hunger for (one per person) e.g. chocolate, water, drugs, alcohol, sex, Playstation, sunshine, approval, knowledge, adrenaline, sin... Prepare three envelopes for each small group; with the information about the various people in, ready to hand out at the appropriate moments.
If you have the means, show a Youtube clip from The Apprentice where Raef defends Sara. http://youtube.com/watch?v=U8KXO0c1lTE&feature=related. Read www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/18/television for more clarity on the issue of morality and The Apprentice. Buy a packet of chocolates.
Get everybody to write down a food that they absolutely love – their favourite snack or meal ever! Go round the group and everybody has to try to guess what the person to their right has written down. As they guess, that person can reveal the correct answer.
Put their answers in the middle of the group. Put some chocolates on top of the pile, but don't let anyone take one. Get them to stare at the pile and focus on that thing they want to eat. How would it taste...the texture, the smell (really go to town with this!) Does thinking about it make them want it more? What would they give to have it right now?
Say that ‘hunger and thirst’ is most often talked about to do with third world poverty. For those people their appetites for food will probably never be satisfied. Read out the NIV version of Matthew 5:6 then from New Living Translation:
‘God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.’
Keep repeating it throughout the session; maybe display it – it needs to stick in their heads as the thought to take away with them. Try to delay it all as long as you can so that they're aware of longing for the chocolate, but you can eventually give them out or they won't concentrate until you do!
Who am I? (10mins)
Stick a post-it on each person's forehead. They have to ask each other questions to work out who they are but answers to questions can only be 'yes' or 'no.' Warn them that they are not 'people' but things we could have an appetite for. Maybe give an example.
Vote with your feet (10mins)
Make sure the room is free from obstacles so the group can move about. When they have guessed who they 'are,' stick their post-its in the middle so everyone can see them. Read out a few and instruct the group to move to one of four designated areas of the room to signify whether their appetite for that thing is: Insatiable, Strong, Bearable or Weak. Pick a couple of different people for some feedback. Make ‘Righteousness’ the last one you do to start discussion on what it is.
Who is righteous? (15mins)
Set the scene: A group of people are flying in a Hot Air Balloon over the ocean. The balloon is in trouble and someone will have to be pushed out! – you have to decide who.
a) A little girl, 8 years old
b) An old man 90 years old
c) A middle aged woman, 45
d) A middle aged man, 45
e) A young woman, 18
Once they have had a chance to say who they think it should be and why, reveal some more information:
a) Swears non-stop and is already addicted to cigarettes
b) Is a church-going researcher nearing a cure for HIV/AIDS
c) Has been convicted of armed robbery and drug dealing
d) Is a training to be a terrorist
e) Is pregnant and prays for her baby
Again, once they have discussed who deserves to be thrown out, tell them:
a) Was physically abused by her foster parents and has been sleeping rough
b) Is a Paedophile
c) Is an excellent paramedic
d) Is skilled in driving a Hot Air Balloon
e) Is a prostitute and pregnant by one of her clients
Are any of these people righteous? Is anyone? The truth of God's heart is he wants us to be like Him – to care about the things he cares about. What is top of God's list of hungers? Discuss what God sees as 'righteousness' – is it following certain rules, being a good person, or is it more to do with what Jesus did than what we do now?
God’s take on righteousness (10 mins)
Say that in the Old Testament God honoured people for following his laws; copying His heart attitudes - but real righteousness was believing God (Romans 4:2-4); a positive, loving connection between God and man. So, in the New Covenant, because of our belief in Jesus Christ, we are all righteous (2 Cor 5:21) – and all have that connection. But on top of that, God is searching for those who hunger to know and please Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Jesus wasn’t (in this statement) saying 'blessed are those who are righteous'. He said blessed are those who hunger for righteousness. Have you ever seen a relationship where one person didn't feel as strongly as the other? Did that relationship work out?! God wants us to want Him as much as he wants us.
KEY POINT: Righteousness means justice which means doing what is right. Is being a Christian about how close to the edge of the cliff you can go without falling off – how much you can get away with - or is it about how far you can flee from temptation - how much of yourself you can give over to God? Jesus says 'those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled'. Not 'those who hunger and thirst for success and fame will be filled'. You might expect to be satisfied if you hungered for say, joy... but righteousness? Can we expect our hunger for justice to be satisfied in this life - or just afterwards when the earth is renewed?
Show the youtube clip of Raef standing up for Sara on The Apprentice – or just tell the story about it, and ask if anyone saw it. Say that these days many people hunger to be rich and famous and will try to get it by any means necessary, but here's someone who became more popular with the public because he did the right thing. Ask: What would it feel like to have powerful 'hunger' feelings – for doing the right thing? Read Psalm 42:1-2.
Hunger meditation (10 mins):
Perhaps put some music on. Everybody write some things they know are wrong
Put these in the middle and symbolically push all the other ones out of the way. How much do you hunger for these things to happen? What do you want more than anything – justice in the world/ justice for those you know – or something else? What would life be like for you if these were the things you had an incredible appetite for - instead of those other things? What would be the result in you?
Joel Toombs is helping to develop the Steelroots Youth Community in S17, Sheffield, UK
Notes for adapting
For older groups/younger groups… There are several deep points to be discussed here, allow time for that for older ones but keep it simple for younger audiences.
For un-churched young people… Give the chance to respond to the point that even being hungry to do good is not enough, God wants us to be hungry for Him.
For churched young people: Have them look up, compare and discuss the referenced verses.
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