Into the Lesson
If you have access to a college bookstore, buy copies of the small “blue books” that schools typically use for written exams (they cost about ten cents apiece). Otherwise, prepare copies of a sheet with 20 numbered entries, an A, B, C, D. E by each number, and the word TEST prominently displayed at the top. Hand a copy to each student as he or she arrives. Also provide pens and pencils. Say nothing about your intentions. As class begins say, “Please write your name at the top of the test sheet I have given you. While you are at it, also indicate at the top whether you will get a pass or a fail.” Give time for the grumbles and remarks and then say, “There is only one question on this test, and it is not multiple choice. It is a simple yes or no. Ready for the question? Here it is: ‘Do you love as Jesus loves?”‘
Discuss how this concept and this question re-late to this lesson on “The Test of Love.”
Into the Word
Make arrangement in advance for a musically talented member of your congregation to lead the class in singing “Behold, What Manner of Love” by Patricia Van Tine (0 1978 by Maranatha! Music). This song is based on 1 John 3:1. This song will set the tone for today’s study: the true test of love in us is how closely we resemble the love God has shown to us in Christ.
Display the lesson writer’s outline: I. Majesty of Love (1 John 3:1, 2), II. Message of Love (1 John 3:11-15), III. Measures of Love (1 John3:16-24). Include in your display two columns conspicuously headed FAIL and PASS.
Lead a brief discussion of verses 1, 2. Then divide your class into two groups. Say, “Group #1.I want you to suggest a list of attitudes and deeds guaranteed to get the test taker a failing grade, based on verses 11-15 in today’s text. Group #2,I want you to suggest a list of attitudes and deeds guaranteed to get the test taker a passing grade, based on verses 16-24 of today’s text.”
Allow time to examine the verses, and then call for answers. Expect answers such as, “A person who hates fails” (v. 15); “Self-sacrifice for the good of others gets a passing grade” (v. 16); “One who cannot tolerate the success of others fails” (v.12); and “Compassionate generosity passes” (v.17). Write the two lists as answers are suggested. Next, say “1 John 3:16 is an important verse, closely related to John 3:16. Let’s dig into what1 John 3:16 means.” Then distribute four index cards that you have prepared in advance with the following phrases: Card #1—”How do we perceive the love of God?” Card #2—”Because He laid down His life for us”; Card #3—”So?”Card #4—”We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren!”
Give the four cards to individuals randomly chosen and not seated next to one another. Direct them to stand, say their phrases as quickly as possible, in order, and then hand their cards to another. Repeat the procedure five or six times. This will help class members fix this verse in their minds. Finish by reading 1 John 3:16 tithe class.
Say, “First John 3:17 describes what God did for us: saw us in need (sinners headed to Hell), felt compassion, and acted to meet our needs (sending Jesus as the pure and holy sacrifice to atone for and cover our sins). To be a true child of God, we must see, feel, and act in the same manner.”Give each student a small piece of paper. Indicate that you want each person to write on that paper the name and circumstances of someone in need. Suggest that it could be a young person needing help for a missions trip, a neighbor who has been victimized by fire or other disaster, or a senior saint struggling just to make ends meet. Collect the papers and put them in a container. Place the container by the classroom exit. Suggest that your students take slips (without looking) as they leave and do their best to meet anonymously the needs identified.