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Lifestyle and Behaviour Choices

 

How can a study of the Jesus’ life and the Apostle’s Letters help us determine how to make reasonable choices in behaviour and lifestyle? How can we reflect God’s grace and still give the right message about sin?
 

Rationale

The Western world has been very heavily influenced by Christianity and so there is a traditional foundation concerning how life is to be lived. This foundation, however, has been greatly eroded in the last 50 years and for young people today there is no uniform conception of what is right or what is wrong or how we should live our lives. To some extent the motto now is that if we can do something then we should, and there is great resistance to any critique of these lifestyle choices because the foundation for such critiques has been washed away. As our students venture into this world and into a huge array of lifestyle options, they need more than a set of rules. They need the truth, the purpose, the meaning that lies beneath the commands, and ultimately they need the one who gave the commands and who calls them to a higher goal then simply fulfilling their desires.
 
In Genesis 1 we are told we were created in the image of God, to be like God. So, the question is, what is God like? Leading to, what are we meant to be like? The answer to both questions is found in the one person, Jesus Christ. In the early Church the question of the relationship between Jesus as God and Jesus as a man was hotly debated. It was not until the Council of Chalcedon that the final answer was given, that Jesus was, at the same time, and not by way of mixture, both fully God and fully human, two natures in one person. The importance of the debate centred around the function of Jesus. If we were to truly know God and be brought to God, then we needed someone to bridge the infinite gap between God and ourselves. Only God could do this. So it is only as Jesus is truly God that in him we both see and meet with God, (John 1:1-18). In the same way if Jesus was to take our place on the cross, then he must be truly us, Hebrews 2:10-18. He had to be fully human. As such, Jesus both reveals what God is like and what we are meant to be like, and so to look at Jesus is to look at God’s will for our lives and to see in practice how the mercy and holiness of God relate to each other. Following Jesus, the New Testament is written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is an application to all areas of life of the revelation God had given to us in Jesus. It thus extends that revelation to areas not covered in the Gospels. Jesus also acts as the key that unlocks the meaning of the Old Testament, and so unifies all of God’s revelation by allowing us to see past the immediate context of the OT to the deeper principles which are timeless.
 
***Note: This unit deals more with personal lifestyle choices, rather then the larger ethical issues which are dealt with in the unit Ethics, Morality and Values. See Ideas/Strategies for Lessons for suggestions.
 

Key Concepts

  • God created us in his image, in seeking to be like God we become ourselves and fulfill our destiny
  • Jesus shows both what God is like and what we should be like
  • The NT is the application of the Gospel, Jesus, to all of life
  • The OT is understood in the light of Jesus
  • The Ten Commandments stand as a summary of how God wants us to live, which is exemplified in Jesus
  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we could be like him
  • We are called to me Moral, and all of life comes under God’s critique, as opposed to Relativism which is the only  real option once you ignore God e.g. secular humanism, post-modernism
  • We live in a world where we worship the creation, rather than the creator
  • Is sin really so bad? Apart from all of history, how God sees it is seen in the Cross. The death of Jesus reflects our cruelness, God’s grace and the profoundness of our sin in that Jesus had to die in that way to save us and set the universe right.
  • Satan – comes to kill steal and destroy – encourages wrong behaviour, but also suggests that God is a kill joy – Ie. Deception in the garden of Eden “ God told you that you can’t eat from any tree”.
  • The wages of sin is death = our choices have consequences, short term long term, individual and corporate
  • The gift of God is life in Jesus, who came to give us an abundant life
 

Scripture References

Genesis 1 - God creates the universe and creates us to be like him
Exodus 20:1-16 (see also Deuteronomy 5:6-21) - the Ten Commandments
John 1:1-18 - Jesus shows us what God is like
Matthew 5 - 7 (Sermon on the Mount) - how disciples of Jesus are to live (see also the Gospels for the teaching of Jesus)
Matthew 18 : 21 – 35 - call to forgive as Go has forgiven us in Christ
Hebrews 2:10-18 (see all of Hebrews, especially the early chapters) - Jesus became fully human and lived as God would have us all to live
Romans 1:18-32 - we worship the creation, instead of the creator, leading to every kind of sin
Romans 6-8 - how we can live for God
Romans 12: 1-2 (see whole chapter) - a summary of what it means to live a Christian
1 and 2 Corinthians - many chapters dealing with various lifestyle questions
Galatians 5 - summary of how we are to live and the importance of walking in the Spirit
Ephesians 4:1-6:9 - how we are to live
Philippians 2 - the humility of Christ is our example
Colossians 3 - how we are to live
1 Peter - living for Christ in times of persecution
John 3.16-36 - two rods, life and death, two kinds of people, those who love the light and those who love darkness
1 Tim 1.8 - 11 - the law is for those who are rebels,
Deuteronomy 30: 19- 20 - choose whom you will serve
1 Timothy 6. 9 – 10 - love of money
 

Resources

(Also see Resources in unit on Ethics, Values and Morality for  more options. Note: Teachers should collaborate on exactly what is covered in the units Ethics, Values and Morality, Lifestyle and Behaviour Choices and Relationships to ensure coverage and minimal overlap)
I am second clips - first clip is by Sean Lowe who became known as the Virgin Bachelor after appearing on the American TV ‘The Bachelor’ and saying that he and his wife to be would not have sex until they were married. Great videos to spark discussions on many levels and a range of topics. Very honest.
 
Issues Facing Christians by John Stott (Kindle Edition) - brief overview of many current ethical issues
 
YouTube series on the Ten Commandments, which are the basis of not only our legal system but also Christian Ethics. Does a great job on why, why not and the consequences
 
 
 

Ideas/Strategies for Lessons

Draw from students the personal issues they feel most keenly, that is are struggling with and use that to decide content. See below for posiibilities:
Possible Key Lifestyle Choices include:
  • Church involvement/choice of peers and associated groups/clubs, Gangs ( finding identity and acceptance)  – Violence – Guns?
  • Entertainment choices/ Hooning/risk behaviour – lack of healthy rite of passage in our culture.
  • Materialism/unethical business practices/vocation (Money – Finding healthy tension between living in wealth and being part of God’s redemptive plan for the world. Contrast Prosperity gospel. Tele evangelists.)
  • Premarital Sex/Unwanted pregnancies/Abortion/Pornography
  • Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking
  • Political Affiliation
  • Swearing and other language choices including racial, ethnic and sexual slurs
  • Treatment of girls by boys
  • Modesty, especially for girls
  • Attitude towards parents and other authority figures/Family – what makes a healthy family.
  • Crime - from shoplifting through violence through to more serious issues/one punch crimes
  • Domestic abuse, especially boys
  • Suicide (depression)/Anorexia and other eating disorders (on the rise among boys)/self harm/obesityNarcissism/Mental Health Issues, addictions, OCD.
  • Prejudice – refugees, other cultures and sub cultures , Gender, Race, Religion,
  • Education – Life long learners.
  • Justice and forgiveness. – How should we treat our criminals ?
  • Apathy – sin of omission and no- committal .
  • True definition of Love – Is it just accepting everyone of doing the hard yards to really help help them?

 

Use I am Second videos as discussion starters

In depth study of King David, tracing the downward path and the individual, family and national consequences of his actions - Ps 51 confession.

Social Media critique of Celebrities – Place 4 papers on the floor from totally admire to totally sucks. Students stand with what they think of that person. Then what people think of them. – talk about judgement and if we judge people fairly. Have they ever felt wrongly victimised?

Create iMovie – role play unhealthy response to a situation and healthy response. Similar: Make a comic, Poster – what is worth living for and so on)

List deadly sins and see them as distortions of what God intends through his blessings

Look at the 7 Deadly sins/virtues list from the Middle Ages (see Resource above) - based on scripture, what do they mean for today? Try to create our own list. Why is each chosen? What is importance? Critique from scripture

Look at relevant scriptures in the context of the topic. Hand out verses. Main points/ What don’t you understand?/ Insights?/ Challenges?/ Relevant?/ How do they fit in the context of my life/ the World?