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Outside and Inside!

Children's sermon
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”(vv. 6-7)

Object: Two pieces of glass or plastic; one clear and the other colored in a way that you cannot see through it. I have used pieces of broken bottles as well as those colored plastic report covers. Size does not matter so long as they are large enough for everyone to see the differences in them.

Note: I used the name “Fred” for the child in the message, but feel free to change it to whatever name you like if you have a “Fred” in your group. Or, the child might be “Fredrika!” Also, I have not created as many specific times to ask the children to reply to you in this message. Watch their reactions as you go and feel free to ask something like “What do you think about that?” whenever you want to.

* * *

Hello, everyone! (Let them respond.) I have another story for you today, are you ready? (Let them respond.) Great!

This is a story about a boy named “Fred.” Fred isn’t anyone you know, but I think we probably all know someone who is like Fred. Fred was always a perfect kid, at home, at school, and everywhere he went. He always followed all of the rules. He was always very polite to everyone. He was always helpful to everyone. Fred was just a great kid, regardless of whether the teacher, or his parents, or other adults were watching him. When Fred saw his teacher, he always said, “Hello Ms. Smith, how are you today?” He always waited for his turn in line, and always played perfectly with everyone. When he saw his parents, Fred always did whatever he was supposed to be doing. When he saw another child with their parents, Fred very politely said, “Hello!” and asked if he could help them with anything, like help them carry their books or something like that. Yes, Fred was just perfect, and always did what he was supposed to be doing...When an adult was watching.

But when the teacher wasn’t in the room or was busy and not watching him, Fred made faces at the teacher and called her names. He pushed people out of the way when they were in line, and he tripped other kids or knocked things out of their hands when they walked past his desk. When he was home and his parents weren’t watching, he didn’t do his chores, and he picked on his sister and tried to get her in trouble. When he saw another child and no parents were around, he called them names or did other things to scare and bully them.

What do you think of Fred? (Let them respond.) I don’t think he is someone I would want to hang around with, do you? (Let them respond.)

Fred was kind of like this piece of glass. (Show the colored glass.) When you looked at one side of it, you really couldn’t see what was on the other side. One side of Fred was really, really, nice, but the other side was not nice at all.

One day Jesus was talking to people and a bunch of Pharisees came to see him. The Pharisees were an important group of religious leaders back then. They studied all of the old laws and rules and always tried to obey those old rules just like Fred obeyed all of the rules... sometimes. But the Pharisees spent a lot of their time looking for people who were not following some of those old laws and when they caught someone breaking a law they would call them names and do other things to punish them. Some of the things they did to them were pretty mean, just like some of the things Fred sometimes did.

Well, the Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Hey! You know the old laws say that you are supposed to wash your hands seven times before you eat dinner, but your disciples here aren’t doing that. And the laws say you aren’t supposed to touch sick people, but your disciples are touching them and healing them. Why don’t your disciples obey God’s rules?

The Pharisees were like the colored piece of glass too, weren’t they? (Let them respond.) On one side, they looked nice and perfect, but on the other side, they could be pretty cruel.

Jesus looked at the Pharisees and said, “On one side, you Pharisees say that you love God, but on the other side you just love the old laws and don’t care about God’s people at all. If you are going to follow me and love God, you need to stop worrying so much about those old rules and do more to take care of other people like my disciples are doing. Instead of blaming my disciples for things like how many times they wash their hands or touching sick people, you should stop worrying about keeping your hands clean and help them touch and heal more people yourselves.”

I have another piece of glass to show you, but this one is different, isn’t it? (Let them respond.) What makes it different? (Let them respond.) It is clear so you can see both sides at the same time, can’t you? (Let them respond.) We can easily see both sides. I think that is what Jesus was telling the Pharisees that day. If we want to follow him and love God, we can’t be nice on one side and mean on the other, like Fred and the Pharisees. If we are going to follow Jesus, we will spend our time doing the things God wants us to do and not worry about all of the other things. And does anyone remember what Jesus said the number one thing God wants us to do is? (Let them respond.)

Jesus said that what is most important for us to do is to spend our time doing what we can do to take care of all of the rest of God’s children. And not just when someone is watching, but all the time.

I hope you will remember how much God loves you, and how much God wants us to show everyone around us how much we love them, too.

Let’s have our prayer and ask God to help us remember to do the things God wants us to do to take care of each other.

Dear God, thank you for reminding us how much you love us. Please help us remember that you love all of the people you have created and help us let the people around us know that we love them just like Jesus loves us. Amen.
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