Jesus loves everyone, regardless of their past, and as His disciples, so should we.
This discussion starter is designed to allow one person (up front) to ask everyone else a series of questions that they must answer in their own heart. They don’t need to answer out loud or write anything down; in fact, it would be a setback to do so. Thus, all the leader needs to pull off this discussion starter is a few good questions, and the crowd’s attention.
Say, “Hey guys, listen up. I want to ask you a few questions for you to answer in your own hearts. These will be some pretty interesting questions, so please, just answer them in your own heart. Don’t say anything. Don’t pay attention to others. You’re gonna need to know what you think, and what you think alone. Got it? Here goes.”
- Who is…the person who’s most unlike you?
- Who is…the meanest, most unkind person you know?
- Who is…the most crooked/most cheating person you know?
- Who is…the most unpopular person you know?
- Who is…your worst enemy?
- Of all the people’s names you just answered these questions with, WHO IS the most difficult person for you to love?
Loving those who are different from us is difficult. Loving those who are cruel to others is also very difficult. Loving those who are intentionally mean to us is almost impossible. But that’s exactly what Jesus did during His ministry on Earth, He loved the unlovable. In fact, He oftentimes hung out with people that others would consider “scum.” But here’s where it gets really interesting. Because we are His disciples, Jesus expects us to love these people, as well. Let’s take a look at Scripture to see what that looks like.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the name of the worst person we’ve ever studied in history class.
- ASK A FEW: Without saying any names, was it easy or hard for you to answer the “Who Is” questions from a moment ago? Why?
- ASK A FEW: How would you say you feel about the people you gave as answers a moment ago?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think Jesus feels about those same people?
- ASK A FEW: Who are the people it’s most easy for you to love? (Leaders – They will probably give a variety of answers here, but the overarching point will be that they like to love those who are most like them, or who they PERCEIVE to be most like them.)
- ASK A FEW: Who are the people that are most difficult for you to love?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think Jesus wants us to feel about the people you just answered the questions with?
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: Why was Levi called scum? (Leaders – Because he was a tax collector. Back in Jesus’ day, a tax collector was basically like the mob today. He collected so much in taxes from his own people so he could pay off the Roman Emperor…but also line his own pockets with their money.)
ASK A FEW: What was Jesus’ attitude toward Levi? How do you know?
ASK A FEW: What was the reason Jesus gave for being willing to hang out with Levi?
ASK A FEW: Based on this passage, do you think it’s fair to say that Jesus loved Levi? If so, why? If not, why not?
ASK A FEW: How did Levi react to Jesus’ love. (Leaders – He threw a party so that all of his scummy friends could also meet Jesus. It would be like a modern day drug dealer giving his life to Jesus, and then getting all of his drug dealing friends to meet Jesus, too!)
ASK A FEW: Has there ever been a time when people treated you like scum?
ASK A FEW: Did Jesus and others show you their love during that low point in your life?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will you show the love of Jesus to the “scum” in your life this week?
Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collection booth. "Come, be my disciple!" Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
Soon Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests were there. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with such scum?"
Jesus answered them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough."
Our time together tonight might be considered emotional. It’s never easy to put a name or a face on the people we’ve always looked down on, or hate.
Especially when we’re sitting in church.
But that’s what we do in real life, isn’t it? Thanks for being honest with our leaders; it’s always good to come to grips with our own hearts.
And when we did that, just now, what we realized, is there are a lot of people in our lives that we do not love. That’s tragic for lots of reasons, but chiefly because Jesus tells us to love them…even when they are unlovable. Jesus gets to tell us that because He’s God, but also because He’s done exactly what He commanded us to do! He has loved the scum of the Earth.
There are plenty of people in our world that need love. They might be sitting in math class with us, or in the school cafeteria with us, or even in the living room with us. It doesn’t matter who it is, the same truth applies to all of them: Jesus wants us love them just as He loved Levi in this story.
But check this out. Another great reason to love the “scum of the Earth” is because you don’t know how great a friend you might be missing out on. Look back on this story. When Jesus met Levi and called out to Him, what happened next? Yep, Levi became one of Jesus’ greatest disciples. He even wrote one of the first Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. You probably know him as Matthew. Yep, they’re the same person! When Jesus called out to Levi/Matthew and changed his life, Levi/Matthew NEVER forgot it!
So, who are you skipping over? Who are you unloving towards? Who needs your love right now? I bet if you were to show them love, you’d change their lives, just like Jesus changed Levi’s.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith