Who Am I Before God?

This lesson asks youth to focus on the self that God gave them.

Enhancer of Joy

Holistic Health

Duration

60 minutes

Lesson Developed by

Joyce Ann Mercer

Goal

A Bible Study - Part 1

Materials Checklist

  • Bibles- New Revised Standard or New International Versions.
  • The youth minister or facilitator will need to ensure that everyone in the youth group has writing instruments and 4” x 8” index cards.
  • Printed handouts of the following Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 2:11-13; 1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 4:8-9; and Luke 12:22-23.
  • Access to a photocopier.
  • Through either a computer or smartphone, the facilitator will need access to one or two YouTube videos of songs, or audio versions through SoundCloud or similar service, from popular culture that are known by the youth group.

Scripture Focus

  • 1 Corinthians 2:11-13
  • 1 Corinthians 13
  • Philippians 4:8-9
  • Luke 12:22-23.

Objectives

  1. To enable young adults to critically reflect on how God created them to be holistically healthy individuals.
  2. To encourage the students to engage in a process of spiritually discerning a holistic idea of the S.E.L.F. and it’s nourishment.

Further Study

On YouTube.com, “Christian Teens: Body Image and Self Confidence.” https://youtu.be/wJP2CRdH18s

On GodTube.com, “How Can God Strengthen Your Self-Esteem?” https://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0JJJCFNU

Kenda Dean, Chap Clark, David Rahn, eds., Starting Right: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001.

James E. Loder, The Logic of The Spirit: Human Development in Theological Perspective. San 

Francisco: Jossey-bass Publishers, 1998.

Joyce Mercer, Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood. Chalice Press, 2005.

Gather

Gather (5 minutes)

 In order to attract people’s attention to the start of Session 2, the facilitator along with one or two volunteers from the youth group share what stuck out to them from the first session on Substance Abuse as an inhibitor of Adolescent Joy. 

Opening silence and prayer.  

Before prayer, an opening silence of about 10 seconds will be helpful for the students to gain focus on listening to God and to each other during the session.

The leader may start the prayer by thanking God for the lessons learned in the First Session.  Then the youth minister can invite anyone in the circle to pray about their hopes for the Second Session.

Introduction of the Session:

Today we are focusing on who we are before God.  In the first session we discussed how we are creatures of God who are wonderfully made for joy.  In this second session, we will discuss in detail the different parts of our selves and the joy we can achieve by studying how the Bible invites us to develop ourselves and to find joy in holistic health and good self-esteem.  

Engage

Engage (20 minutes)

Activity 1: The Healthy S.E.L.F. 

How healthy is the S.E.L.F. that God gave me? In this part of the session the students will be challenged to think theologically about four aspects of the “self:” the Spiritual self, the Emotional self, the Learning self and the Fleshly or physical self.  The facilitator splits the group into four (or two) sections.  Each group will address one (or two) of the four facets of the self.  Each group will be given one (or two) scripture(s) (New Revised Standard Version or New International Version) that address each of the four facets.  

One group shall be given the discussion topic of the Spiritual self.  

The students of this group shall be given 1 Corinthians 2:11-13:  11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

  • How can a person become spiritually healthy?  How can we glorify God spiritually? The small group shall try to compare their ideas to the ideas that they see expressed in the Scripture.  They shall choose a person who will present a summary of the group’s thoughts that are in response to the group question.

The second group (or the first group if there are only two groups) will be given the topic of the Emotional self.

The students of this group shall be given 1 Corinthians 13: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

  • How can a person become emotionally healthy?  How can we glorify God with our emotions? The small group shall try to compare their ideas to the ideas that they see expressed in the Scripture.  They shall choose a person who will present a summary of the group’s thoughts that are in response to the group question.

The third group (or the second group if there are only two groups) will be given the topic of the Learning self.

The students of this group shall be given Philippians 4:8-9: 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

  • How can a person become intellectually healthy?  How can we glorify God with our minds? The small group shall try to compare their ideas to the ideas that they see expressed in the Scripture.  They shall choose a person who will present a summary of the group’s thoughts that are in response to the group question.

The fourth group (or the second group if there are only two groups) will be given the topic of the Fleshly or physical self.

The students of this group shall be given Luke 12:22-23: 22 [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

  • How can a person be physically healthy? How can we glorify God with our bodies? The small group shall try to compare their ideas to the ideas that they see expressed in the Scripture.  They shall choose a person who will present a summary of the group’s thoughts that are in response to the group question.

The facilitator will then have each group report briefly on their group’s thoughts.  While helping the discussion the facilitator will ensure that the conversation includes the following perspectives: 

  • The Spiritual self includes our awareness and engagement of God and of our life purpose; intuition; faith and future-mindedness.
  • Our Emotional self includes our feelings and their creative expression; the quality of our relationships as well as our individuality.
  • Our Learning self includes our ability to understand; our education received or anticipated; our ability to discern and direct thoughts.
  • Our Fleshly or physical state includes our physical health, personality, living conditions and socio-economic status.

Reflect

Reflect (30 minutes)

Activity 2: How can you improve your S.E.L.F.? 

The youth minister can now bring everyone back together into a large group and invite the students to write on their index cards a list of how they can keep healthy the different parts of the SELF.

NOTE: Here the facilitator(s) must be ready to engage each student directly and answer any questions they may have on the different parts of the SELF in either their own personal contexts or within the context of the targeted Scriptures.

As the students complete the task their cards should be photocopied (either with a photocopier machine or smartphone) so that the youth minister has a copy also.  These cards will be referred to in Session 3.    

Activity 3: Examples of the expression of SELF in popular culture 

At this point, the facilitator brings the students’ attention to the selected popular songs and asks the students to watch one or two YouTube videos or listen to the popular songs on SoundCloud or similar service (preferably censored for offensive language).

OPTION: Go to a website like lyrics.com to print out and distribute the lyrics of the songs in question.

The facilitator then asks the students if the video (or audio or printed lyrics) portray healthy images of the different dimensions of the SELF.  Which images are healthy? Which images are unhealthy?  Why?  Why is the song popular?  The youth minister will help guide the conversation according to the ideas of the healthy SELF that were expressed by the students and by the Scriptures.

Send Forth

Send Forth (5 minutes)

Closing Prayer

For the prayer, the youth minister can invite everyone to get into a circle and to pray out loud for any concerns that they have.  When the facilitator believes that everyone has had ample opportunity to pray, she or he then offers a prayer that God would reveal to everyone in the circle opportunities to improve the health of the different dimensions of themselves.

NOTE: The students and the facilitator hold on to their copies of the notes for the healthy self that the students have made in order to bring them to the next session.

Related Videos

Lecture

Interview Clips

Additional Document

Mercer-and-Atkins-Substance-Abuse.pdf