Mark 12:31 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That sounds easy enough but it gets tougher when you realize that “your neighbor” isn’t just the people you go to church with–or agree with–or look like. However, such differences do not excuse us from following the teaching of our Lord. We are to be empathetic.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9 that, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
That’s mighty powerful stuff.
In light of that, let’s teach kids to consider how it feels to walk in other people’s shoes. I recommend using this fun object lesson to illustrate how different we are but how it pleases God to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
When kids come to class, ask everyone to take off their shoes and add them to the pile of shoes you started. (You and your volunteers should participate.) Once everyone’s shoes have been added, ask a volunteer to sit next to the pile of shoes and hand them out as you call the kids forward. Kids should not get back their own shoes.
Read Mark 12:31 together and talk about what loving your neighbor as yourself might mean. For example, taking care of a neighbor when he’s sick, (just as you would take care of yourself) praying for him and showing him grace and kindness. Explain to kids that like the Apostle Paul, sometimes that means we have to try and understand how those people feel. That is a good way to learn how to have empathy for others. Now tell the kids to try and walk in their neighbor’s shoes. (Of course, don’t let anyone tear up shoes or hurt themselves.) Once the fun is over, have kids find the right shoe owners and return the borrowed shoes.
When the activity is complete talk about how it felt to wear someone else’s shoes. Weird? Strange? Uncomfortable? Lead the kids in a prayer request to God. Help them pray for empathy for their neighbors.
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.