Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids how to treat and witness to their enemies.
Needed: Bibles, soft balls or paper wads, a picture of Peter on a cross
Intro Game: Despite All Obstacles
Set up an obstacle course with two mirror paths. Divide the students into two teams. One student from each team runs the obstacle course at a time while the other team members line up along the length of the obstacle course. When they’re not running, the members of the opposite team throw soft balls or paper wads at the runner from the sidelines.
If a student makes it through the obstacle course without being hit, they score a point for their team and return to the sidelines. If they are hit, they go to the sidelines to throw but not run again. After each pair runs the course, gather the balls or paper wads again for the next two to run.
The game ends when all the students have run the course. The team with the most points wins.
Afterward, explain that we have to do the right things in life even when it seems difficult. There might be things that get in the way of us doing the right thing. There might be people who try to keep us from doing the right thing, but we have to keep doing what we know is right.
Ask students, Do you think most people in our country are Christians, believers in Jesus?
Do you think most people in the world are Christians?
Most people in our country and in the world are not Christians. They don’t believe in Jesus. They either believe in another religion or they don’t believe in God at all. That means Christians, believers in Jesus, are in the minority.
Do you think people who don’t believe in Jesus would ever pick on people who do believe in Jesus?
(As the teacher, share a story of when you were made fun of or treated differently for being a Christian.)
Do you think people who don’t believe in Jesus would ever hurt people who do believe in Jesus?
Christians have been beaten and tortured and killed ever since the time of Peter for believing in Jesus. Today, we’re going to learn about how Peter died.
(Read 1 Peter 3:15.)
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
Peter says to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” That means that if anyone ever asks about our faith, we should be able to tell them. But what do we have to do to be able to tell people about our faith?
We have to know what we believe and why we believe it so that we can tell other people.
Well, what if someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus wants to pick on us for our faith? Should we still talk to them about why we believe? (Yes.)
Yes, but Peter says that we have to talk to them “with gentleness and respect.” If they’re picking on us for our faith and being mean, we still have to be nice to them. We have to be gentle with them and respect them.
(Read 1 Peter 3:16.)
“keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
The reason we have to be gentle with and respect people who don’t believe in Jesus and are being mean to us is so that we can keep “a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
If we’re nice to people when they’re mean to us, then, at least, we know that we haven’t done anything wrong. If we’re mean back, we would be in the wrong, too. And if we’re nice to people when they’re mean to us, maybe they’ll see us being nice to them and feel bad for treating us mean.
(Read 1 Peter 3:17.)
“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
The last thing Peter says is that “it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” The truth is that sometimes, we will suffer for doing good. We will suffer because of our faith in Jesus. People will pick on us. People will treat us differently. People might even try to hurt or kill us. But we have to show God’s love to them by being nice to them. We will suffer for doing good, just like Jesus suffered on the cross when He died to show people God’s love.
And Peter did die in almost the same way that Jesus did. When Peter was an old man, there was a big fire in the city of Rome, the biggest and most important city in the world back then, the capital. And what happened was the King, Emperor Nero, set the fires. He wanted to burn the whole city down and then, rebuild it to be like what he wanted.
But when everyone got mad about the fire, Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for starting the fire. Most people back then didn’t believe in Jesus, and they were always picking on people who did believe in Jesus. So, this was just one more time that they could pick on Christians, blaming them for the fire.
They arrested a bunch of Christians, including Peter and his wife, because Peter was the leader of the Christians. They put them in the Coliseum, the stadium, for everyone to watch them being killed.
Some of the Christians they put in with lions, and the lions ate them. Some of them were put in with warriors, and the warriors attacked and killed them.
Peter’s wife was killed, and then, Peter was killed. Because he was the leader of the Christians, they put him on a cross, just like Jesus. But they put Peter on the cross upside down and let him hang there upside down until he died. (Show students the picture of Peter on the cross.)
But Peter and all of the Christians were strong and brave when they were being killed, and they were always nice to the people who were hurting them because they wanted to show God’s love.
And that’s what we have to do. If anyone ever picks on you about your faith, tell them what you believe and be nice to them because that way, you will be showing God’s love and maybe they will start to believe in Jesus, too.
Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Have each group decide on and act out a scene in which someone can be nice to a person who’s been mean to them.
Game: Neighbors and Enemies Basketball
Set up two basketball hoops. If you don’t have basketball hoops, you can use buckets, trashcans, or boxes to catch the balls. If you have a large group, you can split the students into two or more groups and set up two “baskets” for each group.
One by one, students come up to shoot two balls. They have to shoot one ball at Basket A and the other at Basket B. If they get a basket in each, they score a point. If they get a basket in only one, or neither of the baskets, they do not score a point.
Play long enough for each student to have three turns. Then, explain that they only got a point if they made a basket in both because one basket represents people who are nice to us, and the other basket represents people who are mean to us. God wants us to treat both kinds of people the same, so to show that, they had to get a basket in both of them.
Father God, we thank You for Peter and the lessons he taught us. Help us to be like him and always be kind to people, even when they’re persecuting us for our faith in You. Help us to show Your love to our enemies and to tell them why we believe in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Rock.