Here’s a free junior high ministry lesson on Identity, based on Ephesians 2:8-10 and Genesis 1:26-27.

The main idea: Instead of asking, “Who am I?” I should be asking, “Whose am I?”

The lesson includes a fun opening game to set up the message.

Enjoy!

Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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JUNIOR HIGH MINISTRY LESSON ON IDENTITY

Bible: Ephesians 2:8-10; Genesis 1:26-27

Bottom Line: Instead of asking, “Who am I?” I should be asking, “Whose am I?”

Main Question: Is my identity being formed around what’s temporary or eternal?

SUPPLIES

  • Sticky notes (several per student)
  • One marker per student

OPENING GAME—FREEZE TAG (Hacked!)

At face value, this is just a game of tag. 

You pick one person to be “It,” and everyone else spreads out around the room. 

When you say, “Go!” everyone runs around within the boundaries that you set, trying not to get tagged by “It.”

If they get tagged, they have to freeze wherever they are.

However, since this is a “hacked” version of the game, there is a twist.

When someone is “frozen,” the only way to get “thawed out” or “unfrozen” is to have someone else put a sticky note on them.

Before anyone can put a sticky note on another player, they have to write a characteristic about that person—it needs to be respectful and encouraging. 

It’s recommended that it be more about what kind of person they are than just what they look like. 

This all really depends on how well your students know each other.

So, hand out a few sticky notes and a marker to each student. 

Then say, “Go!”

Play for 3-5 minutes. 

If “It” manages to freeze everyone, he/she wins. 

If not, the crowd wins. 

You can also play this for 60 seconds a round and keep track of how many people get frozen each round.

The “It” who freezes the most people wins.

TEACH

Many of you have probably been playing tag or versions of tag since you were young kids on the elementary school playground.

The game is pretty simple.

If you are “It,” you want as many people as possible to be out or to join you.

If you are not “It,” you want to avoid “It” at all costs.

However, if you are not “It” and get tagged, in freeze tag, you are hoping someone will be kind enough to help free you.

In today’s version of the game, not only did you want someone to tag you, but you wanted them to know enough about you to be able to write something on the sticky note that would set you free.

And I can’t speak for everyone, but I know at least some of you were eager to see what people had written about you on those notes.

Today it was just a game.

But for many of us, and probably for all of us at one time or another, this game plays itself out in real life.

Think about it this way.

In the game you are either “It” or you’re not.

In your schools, there are many different groups.

You can be athletic, artistic, techie, drama, dance, band, choir, robotics, etc.

But at the end of the day, you just want to be part of some group, any group, so that you are not “alone.”

Some of you walk the halls of your school trying to fit in to some group because if you don’t, you have that weird feeling like you are “It” and no one wants to be around you.

Instead of basing your identity on what makes you who you are, you base it on the abilities or characteristics you have that make you accepted by a group.

I know some of you would boldly declare that you are different.

You try to stand out from the crowd and don’t conform to any of the “normal” groups in school.

But even then, I would guess that there are at least a couple of friends who support you and maybe even are, ironically, non-conformists like you.

So, what are you supposed to do? 

Who are you supposed to be?

I believe we are looking for answers in temporary places.

I would challenge you that we might even be asking the wrong questions.

There’s a book in the Bible written by a man you may have heard of—Moses, and a letter in the Bible written by one of Jesus’ most outspoken followers—Paul.

Both of these passages can help us out today.

Let’s start at the beginning—literally.

We’re going to get to Paul’s letter, but we need to start in the first book of the Bible—Genesis.

When we read the description of how God made people, “In the beginning,” we gain a fascinating insight into how He sees us.

Genesis 1:26-27 (New Living Translation)

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. 

They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Three times in those two verses, God says He is making people “in His own image.”

That doesn’t mean we look like Him or that we are little gods.

But it does mean the characteristics that make God who He is are woven into the very fabric of our DNA that make humans different from all the rest of creation.

We are not just one more type of animal.

We are people!

We are made to resemble the characteristics of our Creator God!

We are HIS Creation!

Two things to note here:

Our identity should be based on the eternal Creator God, because He made us in His image.

This creation story is much more about Whose we are than who we are.

There are so many things we base our identity on that are temporary.

If we go back to Genesis and see the value and importance God placed on us and how He created us in the beginning, it gives our identity a timeless value—something that lasts forever.

And when we realize we are His creation, we begin to see our identity is wrapped more around being loved by God and following His Son than it is about our abilities, accomplishments, or appearances.

But, I know, this is a really old book. 

What about following Jesus?

Does anything change about our identity when we bring Jesus into the conversation?

As a matter of fact, it does.

Check it out.

This is from Ephesians 2:8-10, where Paul, a passionate follower of Jesus, is writing to a church in the city of Ephesus.

He writes to them specifically but also wants this message to get passed around so that all Christians will understand it—including you and me today!

Here’s what Paul writes:

God saved you by His grace when you believed. 

And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

For we are God’s masterpiece. 

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

(New Living Translation)

Did you catch that word?

Masterpiece!

Not only did God value us at creation, but He still values us after sending His Son on a rescue mission to redeem us.

We are of great value to God.

In fact, Paul wrote that God created us anew in Christ Jesus.

When we become Christians, we go from simply resembling the Creator God to being reshaped into a Masterpiece that God wants to use for the “good things” He has planned for us to do.

We are a Masterpiece on a Mission!

Wow!

Let me review those two points from before:

Our identity should be based on the eternal Creator God, because He made us in His image. This creation story is much more about Whose we are than who we are.

When we combine this with what Paul wrote, we see our identity is not only based on how we were created but also in the fact that we are worthy of being rescued and redeemed by God’s own Son.

If our identity and value was tied up in our abilities of what we can do on our own, we would have been able to save ourselves from the problems of sin and take credit for it.

Instead, God saved us by His grace. 

We were the people being rescued.

We’re not the heroes.

So, our identity is in our eternal God and His great love for us.

Not only were we created by God, but we were restored by Him into a masterpiece.

Imagine how different your school, your neighborhood, your life would be if we could stop playing this game of tag where we are trying to fit in based on temporary identities.

Imagine if we instead lived with a humility and a dignity that comes from being made by our Creator God and being rescued by His Son so that we can carry out the mission He has for us!

Let’s dig into that some more in our small groups!

As you go, think about this question: 

Is my identity being formed around what’s temporary or eternal?

(Transition to small groups)

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Do you usually like the game of tag? Why? Do you prefer to be “It” or be chased? Why?
  2. How did the sticky notes change the game of freeze tag today?
  3. If you were to walk around your neighborhood or the halls of your school and ask students your age about their identity, what do you believe some of their answers would be? What would they be based upon
  4. Can you think of something that was popular recently that isn’t anymore? (Pokemon Go, fidget spinners, silly bands…) What makes these things so huge in the moment? Why do they fade away or drop off the radar?
  5. What types of things have you based your identity on that, if you’re honest, are just as temporary as those fads? If you know this, why have you allowed those to define who you are?
  6. Is making the switch from “Who am I?” to “Whose am I?” just a play on words, or is there a significant difference there? Explain.
  7. On a piece of paper, write the word, “Masterpiece.” Carry this around in your pocket for the next three days to remind you how God sees you. If you are even bolder, get a pen or marker and write it small on the inside of your wrist to remind you in the same way. What challenges prevent you from seeing yourself this way on a regular basis? How can you change that?
  8. When someone is rescued, all the credit and thanks goes to the one who did the rescuing. The other person is thankful to be alive and appreciative of all that was done and sacrificed to help keep them safe. 

    In what ways did Jesus sacrifice, endure, and risk so that He could rescue us? From what we read in the Bible, how do we know this was difficult and painful for Him?
  9. When you study art, you hear about certain works of art known as “masterpieces.” They are usually the best of their kind and people travel to view them in person. 

    When you look in the mirror—before you get ready and without any social media filters—what can you remind yourself from today’s lesson to help you see yourself as a valuable Masterpiece? What could you write on a sticky note and put in your room or on your mirror to help you remember this?
  10. If you haven’t become a Christian yet, I’d like you to consider spending some time this week wrestling with the truth that God made you to resemble Him and that He loves you so much that He sent His only Son on a rescue mission for you. 

    If you have become a Christian, you need to realize that the “good things” God planned for you don’t start when you get to high school, college, or become an adult. They start the day you become a Christian. What questions do you have about this mission God has for you? What challenges or obstacles are in your way of getting to work on this mission this week?

End Lesson

Like this lesson? Then check out our….

EXCLUSIVE JUNIOR HIGH CURRICULUM: Save 58% on 1 year of new junior high curriculum.

middle school bible lessons

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Junior High Lesson on God’s Word

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