Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-6
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
Main Point: There is much more that unites disciples of Christ than divides us. When we focus on all of that unites us, then the love of God working through the believers can solve real problems in the world.
Learning Game: Hanabi
In this game players work together to put on a firework show. This is a cooperative card game where players have to put cards of the same color in order from one to five. The catch is that players see the cards everyone else has, but not their own cards. The rules of the game intentionally limit the communication the players have, so they must work together. The game plays up to five, and two groups can rotate out using a single copy of the game in a reasonable time. Hanabi is available at hobby game stores, big box stores like Target, as well as online retailers.
Post Game discussion (5 minutes)
After the game use the following questions to prompt discussion. It is important here that the facilitators do not allow the students to attack or belittle one another for a poor performance at the game.
1. How did that game require good teamwork?
2. How well did you work together as a team?
3. What was the best part of your team?
4. What could your team have done better?
Bible Discussion (25 minutes)
Explain that this scripture comes from a letter that was written to be encouraging to the church in Ephesus. It was meant to build them up and encourage them to live a God-honoring life. This particular scripture comes right past the halfway point where Paul, the author, is beginning to explain what a mature faith really looks like. Read Ephesians 4:1-6 and then use the following questions for discussion. After the questions there are facilitator instructions. These provide ideas for how to guide the discussion, and they include points that the facilitator should try to ensure get brought up in the discussion.
1. The word “one” appears seven times in this scripture. Why do you think is so important?
Facilitator Instruction: The emphasis of this scripture is on unity. The emphasis on one is all of the things that unite Christians. All Christians have one Lord, one God, one faith, one hope, and one baptism.
2. What are some of the things that divide Christians? Why do you think we allow those dividers to be stronger than what unites us?
Facilitator Instruction: It is possible that some of the students may not be aware of deep denominational rifts. A follow up question might be, why do we have so many different denominations? Or why do you think that some churches might hold low opinions of others?
3. Why is unity among Christians important?
Facilitator Instruction: This questions directly relates back to the game. In the game players were on the same team and had to work together to solve a puzzle. The more that a team in Hanabi is in sync with each other the better they do. In the same way, Christians are all on the same team, and we all have the puzzle to solve of making the world a better and more loving place. This is a group effort and not a competition.
4. For those of you who play on a team, what do you like about being on a team? What do you think churches or youth groups can learn from your teams?
Facilitator Instruction: This is an opportunity to help the youth draw connections with the scripture to their own life. Encourage the students to share their positive team experiences, and prod them to really connect those experiences with how a faith community might apply what they have learned.
5. Look at verse 6, what do you think it means?
Facilitator Instruction: It is God that unites all Christians and claims all Christians as children of God. The point of this question is to take the focus off of churches and make it personal. Unity happens on the individual level. Believers are to be united with all other believers. What marks and makes you a Christian is the very same thing that marks and makes another person a Christian. If God is in all and through all, then when we belittle or disrespect other believers in Christ, we are belittling or disrespecting God. If this is an issue with a specific group, this is an appropriate time to emphasize the words we use with one another matter.
6. Look at verse 2. When it comes to Christians being united, why is being humble, gentle, and patient important?
Facilitator Instruction: Dealing with other people is always messy because people are imperfect. We naturally tend to excuse our own faults and mistakes while being critical and harsh of other people. If we are being humble we realize that we too are imperfect. If we are gentle and patient then we are more prone to forgive the failings of others and instead focus on building up instead of tearing down.
7. What does it mean to bear with one another in love? What does that look like?
Facilitator Instruction: This is where we put being humble, gentle and patient into practice. It may be helpful to have a hypothetical example ready to share of what this would look like.
8. If Christians put this scripture into practice better what would happen?
Facilitator Instruction: This question also relates back to the game. A perfect score of 25 in Hanabi is possible the majority of the time (and this is backed up by honest to goodness mathematician research) if a team really knows how to play the game together. In the same way, if Christians are truly unified by all that brings them together we truly can transform the world into a more loving place the majority of the time.