- Understand key concepts about God’s nature.
- Understand Christian teaching about the concept of sin.
- Understand the concept of grace.
- Reflect on what level of goodness is ‘good enough’.
- Reflect upon one example of someone with standards of absolute perfection.
- Analyse a Bible passage to understand the difference between God’s standards of moral perfection and the reality of how human beings live.
- Analyse a Bible passage to understand God’s response to the difference between his moral standards and sinful human nature.
- Synthesise learning by writing a discussion between a chef and his son concerning God’s morally perfect nature.
Ask the students to stand up, and to remain standing if they would complain under the following circumstances (they should all stand up after each question, after you have asked a few students to explain the reasons for their choice):
- Their food in a restaurant was delivered to the table less than piping hot.
- Their food in a restaurant was delivered to the table stone cold.
- Their food in a restaurant was a little overcooked.
- Their food in a restaurant was burnt.
- Their food in a restaurant was raw.
- Their food in a restaurant had a hair in it.
- Their food in a restaurant was a completely different dish to the one they had ordered.
Allow a little discussion for every question and at the end ask some general questions: what determined whether or not the students would complain? Do they expect food to be perfect in every instance, or are there times where ‘good enough’ is, indeed, good enough?
Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about the idea of goodness, and in particular what Christians believe about God’s standard of goodness.
Introduce the clip from the film Chef (Lionsgate, 2014, certificate 15). Click here to buy the DVD online. Explain that Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a top chef who has experienced something of a professional meltdown. In response, he buys a mobile food truck and tries to reconnect with his early days in the food business. Ask the students to pay particular attention to how Carl reacts to his son’s casual approach to quality control.
- Start time: 1.10.33 (beginning of chapter 9 of the DVD)
- End time: 1.14.21
- Clip length: Three minutes and 48 seconds
The clip starts with Martin (John Leguizamo) asking, ‘Hey little man, is the plancha red hot?’ It ends with Carl saying, ‘He’s ready to cook.’ Please note that there are two instances of mild swearing (one of them muttered) during the clip. If you feel this to be inappropriate for your class, you could start the clip at 1.13.21, just before Percy (Emjay Anthony) lifts the lid of the grilling machine to reveal the burnt cubano.
Ask the students if they were surprised by Carl’s attitude towards the idea of serving a burnt sandwich. Do they understand why Percy thought that it wouldn’t matter? What did they think about Carl’s explanation of why he wouldn’t serve a sandwich that wasn’t good enough? Draw out that as a result of his training and professionalism, Carl wasn’t willing to compromise – only perfection was good enough when it came to the food that he was serving.
Explain that Carl’s response to food can help us to understand something that Christians believe about God’s nature. Christians believe that God is inherently good, and that his moral standards are nothing short of perfection. In other words, God is completely good – morally perfect – and he requires the same perfection from others that he exhibits himself.
In pairs or small groups, ask the students to look at Romans 3:9-12. Ask the students to answer the following questions:
- Who comes out of these verses looking good?
- On what basis does the writer say that people have become worthless?
Draw out that the not-good-ness of people, according to this passage seems to lie in their decision to turn away from God. Do the students feel that this is a reasonable basis for assessing someone as not being good? If the students feel that this assessment is an unfair one, ask them whether they think differently if they accept, for the sake of argument, the premise that there is a God, and that he is the rightful ruler and creator of the world. In such a situation (and Paul, who wrote this passage, would undoubtedly have subscribed to such a view), then turning away from God could possibly be viewed as a wilful act of rebellion against proper authority, rather than simply an expression of individual choice.
Now read through Romans 3:21-26 with the students. Give out the Romans 3 cards from the worksheet, and ask the students to work in their pairs or small groups to match each verse with the appropriate summary.
Here are the summaries for your reference:
Verse 21: God has shown an alternative way of being good, one that doesn’t involve keeping all his rules.
Verse 22: Putting trust in Jesus is the alternative way of being judged as good.
Verse 23: Everybody fails to live up to the standard God requires.
Verse 24: Everybody can be considered good because of Jesus.
Verses 25-26: Jesus’ death shows God’s justice – our wrongdoing is paid for, not just forgotten.
Once the students have completed this task (and you have corrected any mismatches during feedback), ask the students to suggest a summary for the entire passage. A possible answer, which you can provide if no one produces anything suitable, is as follows:
People don’t deserve God’s favour, but he gives it anyway. God makes this possible by letting Jesus take the punishment everyone else deserves.
Point out that verse 24 talks about God’s grace. The concept of grace is at the heart of the Christian faith. Grace refers to God’s willingness to give good things to his people, even though they don’t deserve them. Although everyone is flawed and sinful, undeserving of God’s love, Christians believe that God lavishes his love on them, providing a way for them to be forgiven and to enter into his kingdom. This undeserved reward is God’s grace, paid for not by human effort but by the death of Jesus. The mnemonic God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense may be a helpful way of students remembering the meaning of grace. You could remind the students of the film clip, pointing out that another similarity between God and Carl can be seen in their response to others whose standards fall short of their own: Carl patiently explained to Percy why it matters to get the food right and helped him to grow towards similar standards himself; similarly, God found a way for sinful people to be forgiven, and then helps them to grow more like him and live lives that are closer and closer to his moral perfection.
SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:
As a final exercise, ask the students to write a discussion between a chef and his son, with the chef explaining God’s moral goodness and his (God’s) response to the fact that human beings fail to live up to his standard of perfection.
YOU WILL NEED: