By Rev. Doug Forbes
It is important for children to know that they are loved and accepted by God, their family and their house of worship. Children can learn about God’s unconditional love by playing a simple, fun game.
To play the game, place a box in the corner of the room and place tape on the floor for a free throw line. Each child, in turn, receives three tennis balls to throw into the box from the taped line. (The tape should be far enough back so that the children will score about half the time.)
Tell your young people they will receive a prize for every ball they successfully pitch into the box. (The prize could be a sticker, a coin or a piece of candy.) As the children throw their balls, give them a prize for each pitch, whether it goes in the box or not.
After everyone has played the game and received three prizes each, ask them to sit in a circle for a Bible study. Read John 3:16 which says: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Explain that this means that God loves everyone regardless of who they are, where they live, or what they have done in the past. Ask the children to share some ways that God shows us His love. Some examples could be: the beautiful world He gave us, our family, friends, food to eat, etc.
Next, read John 3:17, which says “For God sent not his Son into world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Explain to the students that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn us. God’s love is unconditional! He loves us – regardless of our sins, mistakes, problems or failures. That is what the game is all about. God still loves us when we fail at something and He still wants to help us and give us good gifts. Just like extra prizes, we can’t earn God’s love. It’s always a free gift.
Ask your young people to help you make a list of ways that they can share God’s unconditional love in the upcoming week. Close in prayer asking God to make each one in your class an instrument of God’s peace and love.