It’s your first month at your new school. You’ve finally found some friends to hang out with. All of you eat lunch together almost every day. You have a lot of classes together. One week everybody ends up having a free Friday night. So, you asked your parents and they agreed that you could have your friends over for the night.
Each person shows up at your house and your first place to hang is your room. Your friends think your room’s an awesome place. “Look at this clock! Now THAT rocks!” shouts one friend. “Guys, check out these posters!” says another. “Aw! You’ve got that awesome new game for your Play Station!” “Where’d you get that cool jacket?!” “What’s this? A Bible? Whoa. Alright. What’s over there? What are all the trophies from?” Your friends spend what seems like forever checking out the stuff in your room. But that’s the really cool part: It’s YOUR room and you’re the one who gets to decide what stays and what goes. And you really like all the stuff you’ve collected, earned, or been given. It feels really good to know that your newest friends like your stuff too.
Read the Book: Philipians 3:7-14. (Suggestion: The group leader sets the stage for the group members: Help them to imagine receiving a letter from a mature Christian who cares about the growth of your group. If your Bible’s not too huge or heavy, try holding a piece of paper behind it while you read the passage to the group, as though you’re actually reading a letter to them…or, if you’ve got extra time, write out the passage like a letter would be and hand it to a group member to read to the group.)
Suppose, during the night your friends stayed over, while you were telling stories by flashlight on the floor in the middle of your room, a scent began coming into the room. Right in the midst of a huge laugh, one friend nearly chokes while taking in a big breath. “AAACK! That’s smoke!” You shine the light at the bottom of the door and can see the smoke. When you touch the door, it’s not yet warm, so you open it. “Oh no! Your house is on fire! Let’s get out of here!” yells a friend.
You look at your friends. You look around your room—YOUR room, your stuff…It could all be gone that night! You have only moments to get out. You decide to take something with you. You consider all the things, trying to choose what’s most important to you…Finally, you choose _____________. (What would you choose?)
Lots of things in our lives can become special to us, even really valuable. What three things would you consider most important to you right now? (Suggestion: The leader could ask group members to turn to a neighbor and share responses to this question. Allow two minutes—one minute per person.)
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he tells exactly what is most important to him. He basically says that everything else that he ever considered important was like the scum you’d scrape off the bottom of a dumpster. Why? Because he had learned and had chosen that knowing Jesus Christ and choosing to follow Him was (or is) the thing that NOTHING else could compare to.
Paul knew that he wasn’t anywhere near being like Jesus…yet! But he chose to make that his life’s motivation and goal. He was determined to let go of whatever he had and whoever he’d been in the past. He chose to do whatever it would take to reach the goal: knowing Jesus and becoming like Him.
You have lots of things that you could consider important to you. Each one of us, however, ultimately must decide what place Jesus will have in our lives. What will it be for you? Some variety of dumpster scum or knowing Jesus as your Lord and first priority?
Checking Your Stats
Ask group members to sit or stand with a partner (perhaps someone he or she has previously shared with). Have pairs respond to the following questions with one another:
1. Right now in your life, if you were to say what percentage of importance Jesus has in your life, what would you say? Explain why. (Example: 50%–sometimes I care, sometimes I don’t; 85%–I’m trying to make Him an important part, but admit that other things get in the way sometimes.)
2. How would you like this percentage to be different? Explain (Even if you’re not concerned about its change, share why you’re not.)
Ask partners to pray for one another, focusing on each other’s relationship with Christ and guidance in choosing what’s most important. Depending on the level of openness within the group, the Leader may want to gather the group as a whole and allow for sharing and praying aloud together.
©1998 Kat Kreations/Kathi Isbell for Jr. High Connection ’98 – Friday Night Devo