Sunday, November 12, 2006

Teenage Sunday School Starts the Ten Commandments

In the past few weeks we've made it all the way over to Exodus, hitting the highlights such as the Passover along the way. This week the students met the Ten Commandments for the first time since they were outright children. I hope to build in them both an appreciation for the law, a sense of its place in salvation history and in Christian life, and an immunization against legalism. All that will take a few weeks. Here's the first installment.

Read Exodus 20:1-17.
  • Have the class list the commandments on the board.
  • Discuss different numbering schemes used for the commandments, the fact that they didn't come numbered so different opinions are ok on the numbering system, and not to be shocked if they see another group number the commandments differently at times.
  • Made sure everyone knew what adultery and coveting were. Everybody understood that adultery involved mating with someone when you shouldn't, and that coveting meant wanting something that was someone else's.

  1. What would the world be like if people followed this? Much better.
  2. Does anyone remember where the Ten Commandments were kept? (Which wasn't a fair question since we hadn't covered it, but I was fairly sure someone would know.) In the Ark of the Covenant. (Short discussion of Raiders of the Lost Ark is inevitable at this point, so I give it a minute or two.)
  3. Does anyone remember what the Ark of the Covenant looked like and what it was made of? It was a box covered with gold and it had angels on the top facing each other.
  4. When I taught the Ten Commandments to the preschoolers a couple of years ago, I brought in a jewelry box. They swarmed it. What do you know about a jewelry box? It has something cool inside.
  5. My jewelry box is wood with some mother-of-pearl inlays ... is it a safe bet that whatever's inside a jewelry box is worth more than the box? Yep.
  6. What does it say about the Ten Commandments that the box they made for it was covered in gold? (Mostly raised eyebrows and hey/wow type comments, but they got the point: the Ten Commandments were considered to be worth more than gold.)
  7. Is this the first time we've seen laws or commands in the Bible, where God says that we must or must not do something? No, we also saw them in Genesis, "You must not eat of the tree."
  8. How did we do with that previous command? Not very well.
  9. How do we do with this set of commands? Not very well.

At this point we stopped and reviewed the idea of our being divided within ourselves, with a side drawn towards God and a side still resentful and distrustful towards God. Had a volunteer draw someone on the board with a split face to show a good side and an evil side, representing us as we are. With reference to the picture, a few more questions:
  1. What does the good side of us think about the commandments? "Yep, sure, I'll do that."
  2. What does the bad side of us think about the commandments? "Forget that!"

Start a section on the board for good reactions to the commandments. Have the class listen for these during the next readings.

Read Matthew 5:17-19
Read Romans 2:17-20

Make list on board of good things said about the commandments in these passages.
Our list included
  • keeping the commandments and teaching others to keep them is counted praiseworthy by Christ
  • relationship to God
  • know God's will
  • approve of what is good
  • being instructed
  • being guided
  • being able to instruct and guide others
  • having the embodiment of knowledge and truth

Referring back to the two-faced drawing of ourselves, explain how the good things about the commandments interest the better side of us. Then point out that the bad side of us reacts differently. Have the class listen for these during the next reading.
Read Romans 7:7-8 and 7:11.
Start a section on the board for bad reactions to the commandments. Our list included
  • Rules are meant to be broken
  • So that's what God wants me to do? I'll do the opposite.

And that'll do for this week. Final exam for today's work: in what chapter of the Bible did we read the Ten Commandments? Exodus 20.

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