Prior to group time, set a table or desk with index cards and pencils or pens. As students join your group, invite them to take an index card and a pencil or pen and write down (without others seeing) something unique about themselves that others might not know. This can be anything from “I was born prematurely and stayed in the hospital the first month of my life” to “I have a really great voice (and I’m going to sing you a chorus from ________) to prove it.” The sky is the limit here but mention that these things will be shared with the large group. Students can provide a small detail or something bigger, it is entirely up to them! Prepare your own card to share.
When all students have arrived, form a circle and invite students to use their index cards to share something with the group that is unique about themselves and that the group likely doesn’t know.
State that what we see on the outside isn’t always what is seen on the inside. We all have part of ourselves that we keep to ourselves.
On the outside Kodi Lee is blind and because of his autism doesn’t react to questions like everyone else would, yet as you watch this clip you’ll see that who Kodi is on the outside does not define who he is on the inside…and he’s got a talent that makes him one of a kind.
Show the following video clip to your students [4:59]:
Kodi Lee: Blind Autistic Singer WOWS AND gets GOLDEN BUZZER! America’s Got Talent 2019
- When Kodi was first introduced what were some of your concerns about his ability to sing well enough to be a contender on America’s Got Talent? (Answers will vary, but may include his disabilities might keep him from his best performance—especially since he can’t see and was performing in an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar sounds, etc.)
- When Kodi started performing, were you surprised at his level of talent and expertise? What surprised you the most? (Most students will note their surprise at Kodi’s abilities; some may mention the level of maturity in his voice/presentation or his ability to play the piano.)
- Why is this a good example of how what a person is on the inside isn’t always seen on the outside? (Invite students to share their initial reactions in comparison to their feelings now about Kodi’s abilities.)
- Are there ever times when the outside of a person looks better than the inside? Why is it hard to tell sometimes? (Students may refer to times when someone is trying to lie about something or act innocent when they aren’t. Some people are practiced liars or hide behind social media to reinvent what they look like from the outside.)
Although we are usually quick to form an opinion about people based on our initial observations of what we see on the outside, there is Someone who never does this. Let’s take a deeper look.
Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school your Step 4 appears below. For adult, use the Step 4 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.
You may remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who was a man of small stature. Today’s unnamed tax collector is also a man whom Jesus desired to honor. Jesus tells a story about how the humble tax collector prayed in the right manner in his heart, acknowledging his sinfulness and asking for God’s forgiveness. In contrast, the proud Pharisee wanted people to see him praying so he would look spiritual on the outside even though he wasn’t that way on the inside. Jesus told this parable because He wants people to know that God looks at the inside, not simply the outside.
Invite students to think about their prayer life. Are they praying in front of people at church to be noticed, praised, or sympathized with? Are they glossing over things that need to be confessed? God sees what is really going on in our hearts. It is good to pray together and care for each other by sharing requests and petitions before God, but it is important to be careful of our motivation and spiritual condition. God sees our heart condition as it truly is.
Earlier, we watched a video about Kodi. Many people, ourselves included, might make negative and misleading assumptions or judgments about Kodi because he appeared different. He needed a cane to get around because of his blindness and was often misread because of his autism. But, inside he had great potential and talent. God knew this about Kodi whether he was a contestant on a game show or not. God also knows everything about us. He sees the inside and the outside of us just like the parable teaches.
Have students get together in groups of two, three, or four (depending on class size) and discuss how they think others see them and how they think God sees them. Allow for interaction. This is a great way for students to encourage each other. Have each student remind another person in their group that God sees them on the inside and totally gets them even if others sometimes don’t! Also remind them that trying to hide something from God just doesn’t work; clearing the lines of communication through confession is the best way. Have groups take a few minutes to pray sentence prayers for each person in the group asking for strength to see themselves as God sees them on the inside, not simply the outside.
If possible, have these students share contact information so they can be in touch this week. Invite each one to take time this week to text or call or hang out with one of these group members and see them for who they really are and how God sees them this week. Knowing that we are seen
and understood deeply because of our bond in Jesus Christ is huge. Reminding each other that God sees us that way always is also vital.
Remind students of how God looks at the inside, not simply the outside. Hand out sticky notes and markers and have students write themselves a note as a reminder of that truth. Encourage students when they go home to put it on their mirror.
Close in prayer thanking God for truly seeing how we are on the inside. Praise Him for creating us exactly how we are and ask for wisdom and insight to see others as God sees them.
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(For our upper elementary, middle school, and high school customers: David C Cook is not affiliated with and does not endorse any website or any other media listed on these pages. At the time of writing, David C Cook editors carefully review the referenced material and non-referenced web page content. However, due to the nature of the Internet, non-cited content on the website [including pop-ups, links, and ads] changes frequently and is beyond our control. Please review carefully before shoeing links in the classroom.)