Refining our gifts, skills, talents and abilities, striving for excellence, is a very important and noble task, that gives Christ more to work with. But regardless of our level of ability, everything we have is to be used for His glory so that others see a vision of Christ when they look at us. This story and Object lesson reminds us that we must live a life that is so close to Christ, that like those in Antioch, we are called Christians – “little Christs”.
Instead of displaying an object lesson for the youth to learn from, we will be providing a variety of objects for youth to use as object lessons. They will be creating the object lessons.
- Collect a variety of small items from your office or home. A pencil, a piece of paper, a sticky note, a stapler, a sugar packet, a thumb tack, an envelop, a letter opener, a coin, a key, a ring, a bottle cap, a ruler, a knife, a shoe lace, a breath mint, a piece of candy, a cup, a plate, a napkin, a nail file, a name card, a clothes pin, a screw, a nail, a paper clip, a magnet, a towel, a battery, a toothbrush, a comb, and just about anything else you can find. Use whatever you have available. Make sure you have enough items for the entire group to each have a different item with a few to spare.
- Ask the youth to each take one item that represents something about God. What truth about God or Christ does it bring to mind? What is something about God it could represent?
- Let the youth share what the item represents about God or what it reminds them of in relation to God.
- After all the youth have shared, tell the following story.
In the 18th century there was a German sculptor by the name of Johann Heinrich von Dannecker. Legend says that he could almost bring stone to life with his skills as a sculptor.
At the height of his career, he decided to do something very special with his gift. He dreamed of shaping a piece of lifeless stone into a statue of Christ that would come to life as a witness to his world.
He chiseled, scraped and polished the marble for almost 2 years. When he was convinced that his statue carried the likeness of his Lord, he wanted to test the statue on eyes that would not lie.
So he went out to the street, and brought in a young girl. He took her into his studio, and he set her down in front of the shrouded sculpture. Uncovering it, he asked her, “Do you know who this is?” “No, sir!” she replied. But he must be a very great man. And Dannecker knew that he’d failed. The statue was good enough for kings and nobles, but it wasn’t good enough to be a testimony of Christ.
He was discouraged. He was disheartened. He was depressed. But he knew that he had to try again. So he set his hand to the task. It took him six years this time, every day, painstakingly, shaping, carving and polishing. Finally, once again he felt he was done. And again, he brought in a child as his first critic.
He took off the shroud, and asked her gently, “Who is that?” Legend has it that tears came to her eyes as she recognised Jesus. It was enough. Dannecker had finished his task. He had created his masterpiece. He had given visible shape to his faith.
Later, to a friend, he told the secret of those last six years. It was as if, he said, Christ had joined him daily in his little room. He felt the nearness of his Lord. He sensed the glory of his Presence. All Dannecker had to do, really, was to transfer the vision of Christ that he received to the block of marble.
I am not sure if the story is true, but it is a powerful story with a profound message. And…
There’s more to the story.
Some years later, the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte saw Dannecker’s work. He was so impressed, he sent for the sculptor and offered him a commission. “Make me a statue of the goddess Venus.” It was considered an incredible honor to be chosen as the creator of such a work of art! Who could refuse? But you know what? Dannecker did! He refused the commission. He gave up that honor.
And you know why?
His responded to Napoleon: “A man who has seen Christ can never employ his gifts in carving out a pagan goddess!”
Take it to the Next Level
Make it Spiritual
- What are some of the gifts, talents, skills, and abilities that we have in our group?
- How can these be used to teach others something about God? How can they be used to bring Glory to God?
Make it Personal
I think the true secret to making Christ come to life in my lifes, to be truly Christlike, is to spend lots of time in His presence and to project the very presence and nearness of Christ in my personal life.
Like Johann Heinrich von Dannecker many of us have failed at times, some of us decidedly more toward the disastrous rather than the masterful. But I truly believe that if we keep our hearts focused on Him, that like with Danneker, God can use our labours of love, our gifts, talents, skills, and abilities to touch the hearts of others all over the world and open doors to sharing the gospel.
Make it Practical
- List some of your talents, skills, abilities and gifts.
- How could these be used to bring Glory to God?
- What is something you can do this week to be more Christlike, to let others see a vision of Christ in you this week?
- If everything you did, was done for God’s benefit, was done to please Him, glorify Him, would your actions change? Would you do things differently?
- Would you speak to people differently?
- Would you treat others differently?
- Would you do different things?
- Would you do things differently?
- If God were your employer, your teacher, your parent, your constant companion would anything change?
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24
In the The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-28), 3 servants were given 5 talents, 2 talents and 1 talent respectively. In those days talents referred to money. But today when someone speaks of talents, we think of the great scientists, artists, musicians, actors and athletes. From the story we learn that God has given us each different talents and abilities that he expects us to use for his benefit.
200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.
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