To help children understand that Christians believe God cares about who we are, not just what we look like.
Things you’ll need
- Some objects with unexpected things inside, for example:
– 1 or 2 food cartons/boxes which will be familiar to the children. Replace the contents with something the children won’t like;
– a tasty looking apple. Make a hole in the bottom of the apple with a knitting needle. Squeeze a little ink from an ink cartridge into the hole and let it soak in. Turn the apple up the right way on a paper towel to allow any excess ink to drain away.
- Pictures of a chrysalis and a butterfly
- Pictures of different kinds of people
1 Samuel 16:1-13
1 Show the items you have prepared and talk about the way they look on the outside– their ‘outward appearance’. Reveal what is on the inside (open the packets/cut the apple in half). Show the pictures of the chrysalis, keeping the butterfly covered, and then reveal the picture of the butterfly. Make the point that in each case we couldn’t tell by looking at the outside what was going to be on the inside. We often make the mistake of judging people by what they look like on the outside.
2 Tell the story of Samuel using 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
Samuel was a prophet– one of God’s special messengers In the land where Samuel lived they needed a new king. They needed a good king who would lead the people wisely and look after them well. But how would they know who to choose?
Samuel listened very carefully to God. God told him, ‘I am sending you to Jesse who lives in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’ So Samuel went to Bethlehem and invited Jesse and his sons to come and see him.
When the sons arrived, the first son Samuel saw was Eliab. Eliab was tall and handsome. ‘Surely this is the one God has chosen to be king,’ Samuel said to himself. Samuel listened to God again. God told Samuel, ‘Don’t look at how handsome Eliab is. Don’t look at how tall he is. ‘I haven’t chosen him. God doesn’t see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but God looks at the heart.’
One by one, seven of Jesse’s sons came to Samuel.
‘No,’ said Samuel, ‘No…no…no…no…no…no… God hasn’t chosen any of these sons. Are these all the sons you have?’ he asked Jesse.
‘I have one more son,’ said Jesse. ‘David. My youngest. He’s out looking after the sheep.’
‘Send for him,’ said Samuel.
So Jesse sent for David. He was a fine boy, tanned and handsome. Samuel listened to God. God told him, ‘Yes. This is the one.’ And there in front of all his older brothers, Samuel poured some special oil on David to show that he was the one that God had chosen to be king, not because he was handsome, but because God knew the kind of person David was. He loved God and wanted to do the things which pleased God. He was brave and he was kind. He worked hard looking after the sheep and God knew that he would be a wise king and look after the people well too.
A Christian viewpoint
Christians believe that God knows what we are really like. It’s not what we look like on the outside that is most important to him– he looks at our ‘hearts’. He knows the kind and unkind thoughts we have. He sees the things we do, even when we think no-one has noticed.
Display the pictures of different people (young/old; male/female; different ethnic backgrounds). Talk about the pictures, pointing out that we can’t tell what a person is like just by looking at them. What’s important is not the outside of a person (their clothes or good looks), but what a person is like on the inside.
In a short time of quiet, ask the children to think about themselves:
- What do you look like on the outside?
- What are you like on the ‘inside’?
- What kind of person are you?
- Think of something good about yourself.
- Is there anything not so good that you know you could change?