Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
Learning Game: Injustice (or other fighting video game)
Since the early 1990’s fighting video games have been a staple genre of the hobby. Odds are high that most teenagers have played one at some point. Many of these video games have an objectionable level of violent imagery or portray women characters in an inappropriate way. That is why we think the best pick for this lesson is the 2013 release Injustice. This video game has super heroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Superman fighting each other. This game is rated “T”, so the Electronic Software Ratings Board has deemed it appropriate for teenagers. This game is also readily accessible on a variety of systems, is backwards compatible, and cheap to purchase. The game is out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. It is also backwards compatible and playable on an Xbox One. There are other options as well such as the classic Street Fighter 2 or any version of Super Smash Bros. However, those games require a higher level of ability. Injustice is very friendly to inexperienced players “button mashing”, and each individual match should last no longer than a minute and a half.
As best as possible with the amount of people present, set up a bracket tournament and let the students play each other to see who wins.
Use the following questions to prompt discussion. The point of these questions is to begin having the students think critically about what they just experienced. Facilitators should do their best to discourage an excessive amount of bragging or teasing in how the students answer these questions.
1. How did you do at the game? Why did you do well or not so well?
2. Why do people who have played the games before have an advantage?
3. How did it feel not knowing any of the combos or special moves?
Read 1 Timothy 6:11-16, and then use the following questions to prompt discussion.
1. Notice verse 12. What do you think about faith being compared to a fight? How is faith like a fight?
Facilitator Instruction: Christianity largely emphasizes peace and non-violence, so the imagery of a fight is a bit jarring. A fight is essentially when two things come into conflict and only one can win. Some students might look at this concretely, and point out that faith is like a fight because there are people who oppose Christianity. Students should be steered away from this line of thinking. This could be done by asking, is that what the scripture states? It could also be done by pointing out that it is very hard to fulfill the directive to love others if we are actively opposing them. Faith is like a fight not because Christians are actively in conflict with other people. Instead Christians are called to live a lifestyle that seeks justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God. We are regularly confronted with worldviews, temptations, and pressures to do the opposite of that. This is the conflict, and it is the collision between these opposing ways of living that can make faith like a fight.
2. Look at verse 11, how do those things listed there help us fight the good fight?
Facilitator Instruction: Depending on the group of students, it may be helpful to define righteousness and godliness. All of these qualities are ones that are necessary to successfully follow Jesus in a fallen world. It should be noted that qualities like love and gentleness seem to be ill-fitted qualities to fighting. This point could be made by tying back to the game and asking how well they would have done if their main strategy was to be gentle to their opponent? It can be pointed out here, than when we think of fighting we think of beating our opponent into the group, like they did in the video game. However, the fight here is less beating and more resisting. If we are faithfully living a Christian life, then we are where God wants us. The goal is to stay there and not be moved.
3. How does one pursue those things?
Facilitator Instructions: This is a great place to tie back to the video game. The students who were familiar with the game or just played more video games probably did better than those who had never played this kind of game before. The reason for this is because of experience. The more we do something the better at it we are. The people who play fighting video games at a competitive level spend hours memorizing every potential move of their character. For us to pursue gentleness or love we have to practice it. A good follow up question might be “how do you practice gentleness?” Encourage the students to seriously think about how they could intentionally put these qualities into practice into their lives.
4. Look again at verse 12, what do you think it means to “take hold of the eternal life?”
Facilitator Instruction: If we are fighting the good fight of the faith, then eternal life is what we are fighting for. Eternal life is a gift given to those who are saved and forgiven through Jesus. However, that eternal life does not have to be a future promise, it can be lived in the present. When Christians live righteous, godly, faithful, loving, and gentle lives then they are living as citizens as God’s heavenly kingdom. To take hold of the eternal life is to live that way in the present. In doing so, we fight the good fight and bring about kingdom of God here on earth.