This is part two of our continuing series of lessons developed to be used with a mixed group of youth and adults, discussing issues of faith through the lens of various videos discovered on YouTube. We are intentionally drawing from both religious and secular videos. Part one is here.
Week 2: What is it all about? Figuring out God, Jesus and Religion
1. Kitten vs. Two Scary Things
Views: 7 million
- What do you think is going on in that kitten’s head? Is it playing? Does it feel threatened? Do it have a clue what’s on the bed?
- Think about how we’re like that with religion sometime – especially when it comes to trying to figure out what Jesus and God are all about.
- What are we clueless about when it comes to religion?
- What aspects of God do we find unsettling?
Share: Let’s take a look at one young guy’s attempt to figure it all about. As you watch it, think about the argument he makes about the following Jesus vs. being part of a religion.
2. Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus
Views: 24 Millions
- This 4 minute video has an astounding number of views. The author, Jeff Bethke, received significant publicity for it, appearing on news programs and launching him into the speakers’ circuit.
- In the speaker’s words: “Synopsis: A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can't do your own list of rules and feel "not good enough" for God.”
- What’s your initial reaction to his spoken-word poem?
- What ideas do you think he’s struggling with?
- In the video he says “Jesus hated religion.” What do you think of that assertion?
- In the video he says “Church isn’t a museum for good people. It’s a hospital for the broken.” How does this fit your experience of Christianity?
- What other parts do you agree/disagree with?
- How do you feel about his ability to so passionately express his thoughts on religion? Do you think most people feel able to do this?
Share: Let’s take a look now at a very different view on God and religion, this one not from someone inside the church, but someone on the outside looking in.
3. An Atheist Meets God
Views: 2.7 million
- How would you describe this person’s view of religion? How do you react to his statement, “Worship me, the God of the Bible, or else!”
- Do you think their view of God is a reasonable one? Did you find the video funny? Offensive?
- How do you think this view compares with Jeff Bethke’s?
- Which arguments stuck out most to you? How would you respond to them in real life?
- This video has 43,000 likes an only 18,000 dislikes. What do you think people would find appealing about this view of religion.
Share: Now let’s look at another controversial view of religion, this time from popular Christian author/speaker/minister Rob Bell.
4. Rob Bell: Love Wins
- Bell’s assertion that he doesn’t believe God condemns anyone to hell has been very controversial inside the conservative Christian church. Why do you think that is?
- Bell says lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith because “they see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies.” What’s your reaction to that?
- Why do you think this video has so many fewer views and comments than the previous two we looked at? Do you think the style of his presentation compared to the other two had any effect on that?
- Do you think Bell sees seekers as being similar to that kitten, people trying to figure out something that just doesn’t make much sense to them? Does our faith journey seem that way on certain days?
Share: Let’s end today with a music video from contemporary Christian singer Michael Gungor. This animated version of his song “God Is Not a Whiteman” explores our attempt to get our hands around just who or what God is.
Share with the group these comments from Gungor on what inspired the song:
“I started writing this song after hearing a preacher talk. He was speaking in that typical preacher-like fashion in a way that implied that he was an expert and had God figured out. He had mentioned his education credentials several times, and we were apparently supposed to be very impressed by the man who was gracious enough to hand us the truth that he had mastered long ago. The preacher talked about God as if God was a very manageable subject. There was no mystery or wonder in his tone, just dogmatic arrogance. It was almost as if God was simply a larger and more powerful version of this man in the sky. The thing about infinity is that it is infinite .There is no containing infinity. As soon as you try to grasp it, you’ve reduced it to something less than infinite.
5. God Is Not a White Man
Views: 1 million
Allow the song to speak for itself. Close with no discussion and a short prayer.