OPENING ACTIVITY: The Best Relationships
Ask students to share their responses to the following. Summarize their answers on a board or sheet of newsprint:
- What things can hinder having a close relationship with someone?
- What things can help maintain a close relationship?
Answers to the first question could include geographical separation, lack of contact, being overly critical, and self-centeredness. Answers to the second could include sacrificial love, spending quality time together, having shared interests, and communicating in affirming ways.
This week’s article focuses on what one person had to let go of to have a close, unhindered relationship with God.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around.]
WHAT I HAD TO LET GO
Gavin Peacock, pastor of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Canada, admits that soccer was his god for a significant period in his life.
Peacock grew up in England. His father was a professional soccer player for the Charlton Athletic Club from 1962–1978, and one of Peacock’s childhood dreams was to follow in his father’s footsteps. At the age of 16, he left school so he could play professional soccer with the Premier League Queens Park Rangers. He played for other teams as well during his 18-year soccer career. His career ended in July 2002 when at age 35 he realized that that due to a chronic knee injury that his boyhood dream was over and it was time to retire.
Peacock says that early in his career his sense of well-being depended entirely on his performance. If he did well, he had an emotional high. If he played poorly, he experienced an emotional low. “I soon realized that achieving the goal [to be a professional soccer player] wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.” At the age of 18 he realized that the biggest obstacle to his happiness “was that soccer was king instead of Jesus.” Over time his eyes were opened to the true meaning of the Gospel and he “turned, repented, and believed the Gospel.” His heart “still burned for soccer, but it burned for Christ more.”
In the professional soccer world, Peacock did not find it easy to live as a Christian. Many of his teammates responded to his declaration of faith in Jesus with mockery and intrigue. They wanted to see if his life would match his profession of faith. When asked if it was difficult to be a Christian in that environment, Peacock said, “It’s difficult being a Christian in any walk of life. The battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil is difficult for everyone.”
He noted, however, that being part of a professional sport can present some unique challenges. “The highs and lows of life are extreme, very close together, and very public. The scrutiny is intense.” So are the insecurity and uncertainty. “You can sign a lucrative contract one day, and your career could be finished by one tackle the next.” Peacock says that he experienced the full gamut of this as a believer but came to a point where he “feared the Lord more than the crowd,” a time when “soccer wasn’t my idol anymore.”
One of the biggest tests of Peacock’s faith came at the end of his career. A door opened for a broadcasting career with the B.B.C., and he was soon doing weekly shows that reached several million viewers. But shortly after participating in the broadcast of the 2006 World Cup that reached hundreds of millions, Peacock felt “a strong desire to pursue a pastoral ministry.” He soon decided to give up his new “dream career” for ministry. Knowing that his public profile in the U.K. was high, he chose instead to study and then be a minister in Canada.
Now have your students from small groups to discuss these questions.
- What things can interfere with our close relationship with God?
- How easy is it to give up those things?
- Why do we let things like “the world, the flesh, and the Devil” come between us and God?
News Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/julaug/professional-soccer-was-my-god.html
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
GET RID OF IT
Many things can get in the way of our close relationship with God. We can be so focused on our work or hobbies that Jesus ends up living in the back seat in our ride-of-life—or maybe not being with us at all. We can also be so focused on “religious” activities that we fail to take time to develop a personal relationship with our Savior.
What Gavin Peacock learned through his walk with Jesus is that “turning from sin and trusting in Christ for salvation isn’t just a one-time initial event; it is the substance of the Christian life.” As Martin Luther said in his 95 Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be in repentance.”
God wants us to have fulfilling lives and to enjoy the fruits of our labor as well as other pleasures in the world He’s created for us—but we should put nothing before Him as our idol, and we can’t forget that He is the One who has given us everything.
Let students return to the groups they formed in Step 1 to discuss their answers to the following:
- What hinders your relationship with God? How can repentance and reliance on the Holy Spirit help you get rid of whatever the hindrance is?
Close in prayer. Thank God for His love, for the knowledge that He always knows what’s best for us, and for the confidence that He will reveal this to us. Pray we will listen to what God says we need to do to have a close relationship with Him and give up whatever hinders that relationship.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
Excavations at the ancient Israelite city of Gezer have uncovered objects used in Canaanite idol worship
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