The Outsiders Join Us

Note to the Teacher

This lesson follows Peter as he learns to value the Gentiles as they are, rather than first converting to Judaism. The Ice Breaker invites youth to think about habits/people they find unappealing. The discussion follows Peter as he tries to understand and accept the vision that it is a sin to keep people away from God. The Activity ties back to the Ice Breaker, inviting youth to wonder about the people who may exhibit the behaviors they don’t like. 

Time Description of Activity
10 min 

1. Ice Breaker: Tic Tac Gross

Give each youth a blank Tic Tac Toe board, but tell them we’re going to use it like a mini-Bingo card. They can write FREE in the center square. In the remaining 8 squares they write behaviors/traits that they think are unappealing. Then have the youth mingle, sharing their answers with one another. If they match with someone, they can put an X in that square. Can anyone get three in a row? Four corners? Cover their whole board?

  • Without naming names, do you know anyone who does these activities?
  • How do you relate to those people?
10 min

2. Discussion Part I (Acts 10:9-23)

Our Scripture reading today is about Simon Peter, the disciple and early church founder, and how he came to change his mind about who can be part of the church. And like us, he didn’t learn the lesson all at once.

Read Acts 10:9-23

Why didn’t Peter want to eat the animals offered in his vision?[1]
Peter was bewildered and didn’t understand the meaning of this vision. What do you think is the meaning of this vision?[2]

Cornelius is introduced as a centurion and God-worshipper. This means he is a Roman soldier. He is a Gentile (non-Jew), though he worships God anyway. There were many such people as the church emerged. Called God-worshippers or God-fearers, they stretched the early church to figure out how to deal with people who accepted Jesus but did not want to become Jewish.

  • What were some of the things that would have to change for those Gentiles to first become Jewish?[3]
  • Why do you think the Gentiles didn’t want to become Jewish before following Jesus?
5 min

3. Discussion Part II (Acts 10:25-43)

The next day Peter follows these men to Cornelius’ house.

Read verses 25-28.

It seems that Peter now understands his vision, that a person can’t be unclean, or unacceptable to God. After a few words from Cornelius, Peter continues. Will you keep reading verses 34-43?

  • What words in this speech support Peter’s newfound understanding of inclusion?[4]
  • In verse 39, Peter’s speech shifts. Suddenly he starts using the pronouns we and us. Who did he mean by that?[5]
5 min

4. Discussion Part III (Acts 10:44-48)

Peter has a vision and struggles to understand it. Just as he seems to be getting it, his language starts to revert to his earlier ways of thinking. Then, in our last section of Scripture, the Holy Spirit actually interrupts Peter. As we read this, notice that the Spirit moves while Peter is speaking.

Read verses 44-48

  • What other Scripture story does this remind you of?[6]
  • Peter goes through several phases as he comes to understand the vision God first gives him at the beginning of the chapter. Can you recall a time when you required several lessons/events/moments before you truly understood a new thing?
  • How do we know that Peter has finally and thoroughly learned this lesson from God?[7]
15 min 

5. Activity

Take this lesson to the next level by getting student’s hands and imaginations involved using the activity Exploring Fitting in and Belonging: A Dramatic Activity from the Youth Worker Collective available at youthworkercollective.com/exploring-fitting-in-and-belonging-a-dramatic-activity  Ask: What is the difference between ‘fitting in’ and ‘belonging?’[8]

5 min  

6. Closing

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

50 min  

NEEDED RESOURCES:

  • Tic Tac Toe boards
  • Writing utensils
  • Cleared space for performing skits
  • Bibles for all students

[1] These were animals forbidden to eat according to Kosher laws.
[2] See Verse 15.
[3] Circumcision, dietary laws, sacrifices at temple, etc.
[4] every nation, whoever, Lord of all, healing everyone, etc.
[5] The Apostles/disciples
[6] Pentecost (Acts 2:1-15)
[7] He admits that no one can stop them from being baptized.
[8] ‘Fitting in’ is a superficial connectedness. We change who we are to fit the group. ‘Belonging’ means we are accepted as we are.

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