OPENING ACTIVITY: If You Would Only…
Write the following on a board or sheet of newsprint and ask students how they would fill in the blanks, assuming that “You” is God:
If You would do this: ________ then I would do this: _________________________
Their answers might be something like, “If God would help me win the lottery, I would give half of my winnings to charity,” or “If God gets me out of this jam, I promise not to do it again.”
This week’s story focuses on what one man said he’d do in exchange for something he wanted from God and how God responded.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around.]
GOD SAYS, ‘I WANT YOU’
As he was lying on a locker room table following a humiliating defeat to Jimmy Young in 1977, boxer George Foreman tried to make a bargain with God. Foreman told God that if He saved him, he would give his prize money to charity. But God wanted something more than money.
Foreman grew up in the Fifth Ward of Houston, a neighborhood considered one of the roughest in the city. His mom worked three jobs to support Foreman and his six siblings, so she could not give much attention to her children. Foreman ended up pretty much raising himself. The family remained poor, and Foreman often found himself without enough food. He was so ashamed of his poverty he sometimes brought an empty lunch bag to school to avoid being pitied. He found it difficult as a teenager to get a job and became angry and resentful. Initially, he took this out in the streets by bullying and picking fistfights with others and later by taking up boxing.
Foreman dropped out of school at age 15 and joined the West Coast Job Corps. It was here that Charles Broadus saw Foreman’s potential as a boxer and promised to train him if Foreman stayed out of trouble. Foreman did so, and in 1968 he won the boxing gold medal in the Mexico City Olympics. He continued to box and didn’t experience his first loss until his match with Muhammad Ali in 1974. After losing to Ali in the eighth round, Foreman admits he was devastated. He also became paranoid and angry. “You start getting a little hate in you,” he said regarding his defeat. “I’m going to pay the world back, show them, that kind of thing.”
Foreman thought that if he won his match against Young in 1977 that it would force Ali into a rematch. Instead, as friends and staff attended his body following his defeat and physical collapse, the “battled brute battled with the God he learned about as a kid.” Thinking he might die from his pummeling. Foreman said, “I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.” He tried to bargain with God in the hope that his life would be spared. God responded by saying to Foreman, “I don’t want your money. I want you.”
Hearing God say this had an immediate effect on Foreman. “I knew that Jesus Christ was coming alive in me,” Foreman said about this in a recent interview. “I ran into the shower and turned on the water and—hallelujah! I was born again. I kissed everybody in the dressing room and told them I loved them.” Foreman then started reciting verses from the Bible and talking from the pit of his stomach. “I was talking about how Jesus was God’s Son and that He was alive. So when I came out of that, I asked a friend to go get me a Bible, and he said, ‘What kind?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, one like your mother has.’ So, he went and bought me a King James version of the Bible. And that’s how I got into religion.”
Before his conversion, Foreman was driven by anger and a desire to hurt those who had hurt him. He admits that some days he “would just sit there and steam and [wonder] how could I get rid of these people.” After his encounter with Jesus in the locker room, he “instantly stopped hating anyone” and found he had a desire to save the world. He gave up boxing that same day.
Foreman became an ordained minister, opened a youth center, and in 1980 established The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston where he still preaches four times a week. One of the biggest changes many notice about Foreman is his big smile, knowing that finding God was much more valuable than anything he gained through boxing.
Have your students form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- Have you ever tried to bargain with God? If so, what happened
- Why is it fruitless to try to meet God on our terms instead of His?
- What does God want from us instead?
(When you are finished with the questions, go on to Step 2 in your Adult Teacher’s Guide.)
Boxing champ George Foreman bargained with God, had personal encounter that left him changed
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
If we want to have an intimate and fruitful relationship with God, it must be on His terms and not ours. It is fruitless to bargain with God, to promise to do something specific so we can get a blessing or reward from Him. We also can’t make up our own rules or guidelines regarding what is acceptable to Him. The only way we can have a close relationship with Him is by following His way.
We may not want to meet God on His terms, but He promises when we do, He will indeed bless us. It just may not be in the way we expect—it may be even better.
Ask students to return to the groups they formed in Step 1 and respond to the following:
- In what area of your life do you need to meet God on His terms rather than yours? What might you have to give up or change to do that?
Close the class in prayer. Thank God that He wants an intimate and fruitful relationship with us and that He promises to bless us when put aside our ways to follow His. Pray that you all will develop a closer and more intimate relationship with Him on His terms.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
A priceless collection of gold Roman emperor coins is now on display in Israel
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