This section provides Bible stories with the theme of acceptance, along with questions you can use as a guide for family discussions. Choose one story that is appropriate for your children. Before reading aloud, take a few minutes to review the story. If the Bible passage is too complex for your children, paraphrase the story yourself or use the summary provided under “key concepts.”
Read Galatians 3:26-29.
Prior to reading this story to your children as per the summary below, you will need to prepare one simple prop. Find a glass jar with a screw-top lid. Put dirt inside the jar and also make it dirty on the outside. If you wish, draw a face on the outside of the glass using permanent markers.
God is ready to welcome anyone into His family. It doesn’t matter what colour our skin is, where we live, who our parents are or if we have been good or bad. It doesn’t matter if we are men or women or even children. God loves everyone.
However, just like we take a bath and dress in clean clothes before we go someplace special, we need to have our sins washed away before we can become part of God’s family. We can wash the outside of our bodies ourselves, but we all need God to wash the sin out of our insides before we can become one of God’s children (Psalm 51:7, Hebrews 1:3, 1 John 2:2).
At this point, have your children help you give the jar a “bath,” washing the dirt off the outside of the jar. Once it is clean, point out that an ordinary bath doesn’t wash the inside.
God needs to wash our sins away because He cannot be around any sin at all (1 Thessalonians 1:9, Romans 8:5-8). The Bible tells us that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This means that all of us who sin deserve to die for our sins. We all have sinned and we all deserve to die (Romans 3:23).
Fortunately, God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to die (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9). He wants us to be a part of His family and live with Him in heaven someday (2 Peter 3:13). So God sent His Son, Jesus, to show us how much He loves us (John 3:16). Jesus took the punishment for our sins. He died so that all the wrong things we have done can be forgiven (Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3).
Take the lid off the jar and explain that, when we ask Him, God washes our sins away. Fill the jar with some water, swish it around and pour out the dirty water.
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”(John 1:12). Everyone who believes in Jesus and asks Him to forgive their sins is accepted as a member of God’s family.
Read Luke 5:27-32 and Luke 6:27-31.
When Jesus was on earth, tax collectors were very unpopular because they sometimes made people pay unfair amounts of money in taxes. The Pharisees and teachers of the law started complaining because Jesus was friendly to a tax collector named Levi. But Jesus said to them,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31). He said that He came to help the sinners, not the righteous. Jesus does not limit His love. He loves everyone just the same.
We can love and accept others even if we don’t like what they do. It is easy to want to avoid children who often do wrong. The Bible says that we shouldn’t be concerned about what another person is doing, but rather we should be concerned about our own actions because each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).
The Bible also tells us that we should pray for people who mistreat us (Luke 6:28). For example, if a child is not fun to play with because he/she will not share toys, it is easy to reject him/her and choose not to play with him/her. But Jesus would rather that we pray for the selfish child, asking that he/she will learn to share.
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
When Samuel was sent by God to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, Samuel was tempted to judge Jesse’s sons by their looks – their appearance and their height. Fortunately, Samuel listened to God and anointed (chose) Jesse’s youngest son, David. Even Jesse, David’s father, was surprised by God’s choice. But God could see what the heart of each of these boys was like. God knew which boy would make a good king for Israel. He chose David because He knew that David loved God very much.
We can judge others by their looks too, without even realizing that we are judging them. Pre-judging someone is called “prejudice” and God doesn’t want us to pre-judge anyone. We should not accept or reject others based on how they look. We should accept everyone as God accepts us (Romans 15:7). We show love and acceptance when we treat others kindly, talk to them and share with them.
Read Luke 19:1-10 and 1 John 2:5-6.
If your children are very familiar with the story of Zacchaeus, you may want to consider sharing a modern re-telling of the Zacchaeus story alongside the story from the Bible. For example, as you tell your story, substitute a bossy kid named Zach for Zacchaeus.
Other ideas include stating that the other children in the playground do not like to play with Zach because of his bossiness. Progress the plot by telling about an exciting afternoon when a clown from the local church visits the park. When the clown sits down to have lunch with the bossy boy, the other children complain. Have the mother of one of the complaining children explain that the clown wanted to share Jesus’ love with the unloved boy.
When Jesus spent time with Zacchaeus, a tax collector, people complained because Zacchaeus was known as a sinful man. The day that Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ house, Zacchaeus believed in Jesus and Jesus told him that he was saved from his sins and was accepted into God’s family. When the people complained about Jesus visiting a “sinner’s house,” Jesus said that He came to “seek and save what was lost.” In saying this, Jesus meant that He came to teach those who didn’t know about God and His plan for accepting everyone into His family. We can help others learn about Jesus by sharing His love with them, especially by accepting those whom others reject – just as Jesus did with Zacchaeus.
Read Acts 10.
You may choose to paraphrase and shorten this story or use the summary in the “key concepts” below.
Cornelius was not a Jew, but he loved and served God faithfully. God sent an angel to Cornelius and the angel told him to go and find a man named Peter who lived in a town called Joppa. At the same time, God told Peter that he should go with the men who had come to fetch him and take him to visit Cornelius.
This was unusual because, at that time, it was against the rules of the Jews for them to visit with Gentiles (Acts 10:28). People who were not Jews were called Gentiles. Jews believed that they were the only people who could be a part of God’s family because God told them that they were His chosen ones.
When Peter went and visited Cornelius, Peter realized that God accepted people of all nations who feared Him and did what was right. God gave the gift of His Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his family that day. Peter also baptized them, which showed others that they were followers of Jesus Christ and part of God’s family. Peter accepted Cornelius because God asked him to. God also asks us to accept others as He accepts us (Romans 15:7).
Read Mark 10:46-52, 1 John 2:5-6 and 1 John 3:18.
To enable deeper understanding, you may choose to blindfold your children during the story or during your discussion time.
Bartimaeus had a handicap. A handicap is when a person has something wrong with their body that prevents them from doing things that other people can do. Bartimaeus’ handicap was blindness.
Jesus was walking though a town called Jericho when He heard a Bartimaeus call His name. Bartimaeus begged Jesus to have mercy on him. Others who heard the blind man shouting told him to be quiet. Instead of helping Bartimaeus find Jesus, they discouraged him, even though he was blind and helpless.
Bartimaeus wanted Jesus to cure his blindness. He believed that Jesus could heal him. Jesus said that because Bartimaeus had faith in Him, Bartimaeus would be able to see. The story tells us that immediately Bartimaeus could see.
Jesus showed love to Bartimaeus by healing him. We can show love to those who have handicaps by accepting them and being kind to them (1 John 2:5-6, 1 John 3:18). Another story about showing love and acceptance to a handicapped person is found in 2 Samuel 9. King David showed kindness to Mephibosheth, his friend Jonathan’s son, even though he was crippled. David cared for him and allowed him to eat at his table every day.
Read John 4:3-42.
If the word “Saviour” is new to your children, explain that the word “Saviour” is like the word “save.” If someone helps others, they are called a helper. Because Jesus saves us from our sins, He is called our Saviour.
Jesus stopped at a well in a town called Sychar in a region called Samaria. In those days, Jews did not speak to people who came from Samaria. Jews and Samaritans hated each other and had fought with each other for many, many years.
At the well, Jesus met a Samaritan woman and asked her to give Him a drink of water. The woman was surprised that Jesus, a Jew, spoke to her. Jesus explained to the woman that He could give her much more than water; He could give her eternal life.
Because Jesus told her things about her life that no ordinary stranger could have known, the woman believed Jesus when He told her that He was the Saviour of the world (John 4:29). She went and told the people from her town about Jesus. Many other Samaritans, when they heard the woman’s story about Jesus, also believed that Jesus was the Saviour of the world. God accepted the Samaritan woman into His family. He asks us to accept others as He does.
Read Luke 10:25-37.
Jesus told a story about a man who was travelling from Jericho to Jerusalem. The man was robbed, stripped of his clothes, beaten and left hurt and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest (a church leader) came down the same road and saw the injured man, but passed by on the other side of the road.
Next, along came a Levite man. Levites were people who helped the priests. The Levite also passed by on the other side of the road. These men may have been afraid of being hurt themselves, or they may have been concerned that if they helped the man, that they would not be allowed to do their jobs at the temple.
Finally, a Samaritan man walked down the road and saw the wounded man. Samaritans and Jews considered each other to be enemies. It was not likely that the Samaritan even lived in that area. He was probably just another traveller passing through. However, the Samaritan man decided to help the injured man. He put the injured man on his donkey, took him to an inn (hotel) and took care of him.
The next day the Samaritan offered to pay the innkeeper for the injured man’s room and care until he was better. When He reached the end of this story, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). It makes God happy when we show His love to others by being kind, caring and fair (Jeremiah 9:24).