Written by Natasha Menifee

This is the third of four lessons that we’re releasing on the topic of racism.

The big idea of this lesson is:

Loving God means you love people. Hatred is the opposite of love, and only love rooted in God can conquer hate.

Hate is a powerful word. 

You may have been forbidden when you were young to say you hated someone. 

Why? Because the word hate carries strong implications. 

Merriam-Webster defines hate as:

  • intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
  • extreme dislike or disgust
  • a systematic and especially politically exploited expression of hatred
  • to feel extreme enmity toward: to regard with active hostility
  • to have a strong aversion to: find very distasteful

There is nothing in any of these definitions that indicate kindness, love, compassion, or grace. 

Nothing about hate reflects the character of God. 

Instead, we find words such as hostility, fear, anger, and disgust. 

All of these words carry a negative connotation. 

Words that can lead to destruction and division, rather than reconciliation.

This lesson will address hate, specifically the hatred of other people, and provide an understanding of what God says about how to treat others.

I hope you find this lesson helpful.

Ministry to Youth Team

Note: As mentioned above, this is 3 of 4 lessons on racism. Check out the other three lessons here:

Lesson 1 – What is Racism?

Lesson 2 – Racial Bias

Lesson 4 – Discrimination

Looking for youth group lessons or Bible lessons for kids? Shop our selection of youth & children’s ministry curriculum: 

YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON RACISM – HATRED (3 OF 4)

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Bible: 1 John 2: 9-11; 3:13 -15; 4:16-21

Bottom Line: Loving God means you love people. Hatred is the opposite of love, and only love rooted in God can conquer hate.

OPENING ACTIVITY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 

This activity can be done online or in-person. 

If your lesson is online, quotes can be displayed in a PowerPoint presentation, Google Slide, etc., and shared on your online meeting platform.

Display the following quotes:

  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”– Yoda
  • “To respond to hateful acts with hatred, is to become the very thing you despise.”– John Mark Green

For this activity, you can divide your group into smaller teams or let them remain together as a whole group.

For smaller teams, assign each group a quote.

For each quote, students will examine it in three ways:

  1. Explain the meaning of the quote.  
  2. Provide an example to help explain the meaning. 
  3. Say it another way. Re-write the quote in their own words while keeping the meaning the same.

TEACH

Say: The quotes we just discussed were from different people; some real and some fictional.

Each quote was created at a different time for a unique purpose. 

But they all have one common theme; anger and hatred lead to a dark way of life. 

Today we will examine hate through the lens of the only thing that can conquer it – love. 

This is not a superficial love… like you love French fries or a new Harry Styles song. 

This kind of love only comes from God.

When we are kind and compassionate, like God, anger doesn’t have room to grow.

When we see people how God sees everyone, it makes it hard to be focus on differences.

When we learn to give and receive godly love, hate loses its power over us. 

Read 1 John 2:9-11.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. 

They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Say: Our relationships with others and how we treat them says a lot. 

It shows how much we value them, what we think and believe about them, and how important they are to us.

Our treatment of others can also say if we are truly followers of Christ. 

As Christians, we model ourselves after Jesus. 

Jesus walked in love. 

Hate will blind us (figuratively and spiritually) and keep us from God’s light.

John’s letter to the church tells us it is impossible to have the light of love and hate in your heart at the same time.

These verses also remind us, it is not about what we say, but what we do. 

We can say we like someone or we’re “cool” with a person but act differently. 

God wants us to demonstrate His love to our brothers and sisters.

Say: Listen to the following names, stand up (or type “yes” in the chat) if you recognize the name.

  • Emmitt Till
  • Amahad Arbery
  • Stephen Clark
  • Botham Jean
  • Susie Jackson
  • Ethel Lane
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Tywanza Sander
  • Daniel Simmons
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  • Clementa Pickney
  • Cynthia Graham
  • Myra Thompson

(Remember to examine the room/chat for responses.)

Say: Some of you have heard these names, some of you did not. 

These are the names of those who have died as a result of a hate crime.

The crimes span across 65 years, but their motive is still the same – hate because of the color of a person’s skin. 

  • Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy who was brutally beaten, shot, and then thrown into a river with a 75-pound cotton gin fan tied to him. He was accused of flirting with a white woman. 
  • Ahmaud Arbery was a 22-year-old male who was was approached by two white men while jogging in his neighborhood in Georgia. They thought he “fit the description” of someone committing robberies in the area. He was unarmed, shot, and killed. 
  • The last nine names belong to the members of a church in Charleston, SC. They are also known as the “Charleston Nine.”  

Let’s take a closer look at the story of the Charleston Nine.

On June 15, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

They were killed by a self-proclaimed white-supremacist, Dylan Roof, who hated all “Blacks,” “Jews,” “Hispanics,” and “East Asians,” according to material found on his personal website.

Roof had previously attended the Bible study before he committed the mass shooting. 

He targeted members of this church because of its history and stature in the community. 

He was arrested the following day, and a little over a year later, in December 2016, he was convicted of 33 federal hate crime and murder charges. 

Six weeks after he shot and killed nine people at a Charleston church, he wrote in a jailhouse journal that although he could no longer go to the movies or eat good food, he still felt the massacre was “worth it.” 

It was worth it because of what he perceived as the wrongs perpetrated by the black community. 

“I would like to make it crystal clear, I do not regret what I did,” Roof wrote. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”

On March 31, 2017, Roof agreed to plead guilty to all state charges pending against him—nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony—to avoid a second death sentence. 

In return, he accepted a sentence of life in prison without parole. 

On April 10, 2017, Roof was sentenced to nine consecutive sentences of life without parole after formally pleading guilty to state murder charges. 

The Apostle John says that when we allow hate and darkness to control us, we are like a blind person.

We are blind to what is going on and cannot see clearly. 

Earlier in our lesson, we learned from Dr. King’s quote that only light could conquer darkness, and only love can defeat hate. 

Read 1 John 3:13-15.

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. 

Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

Say: John gives us a word of advice in Chapter 3. 

As a Christ-follower, don’t be shocked if people don’t like you.

The world did not receive Christ with open arms.

If we are following in His footsteps, we may meet the same resistance. 

Ask: What does it mean in verse 14 when John says, “we have passed from death to life?”

Give students the opportunity to respond.

When you choose to live for Christ, you no longer do things your own way.

You live according to the Word of God.

What we want and desire dies, so what Christ asks of us can live.

What does Jesus ask us to do? Love others the way He loves them. This means we love others who may look, talk, and think differently than we do. 

We do not resent (to feel annoyed or ill will) others for living a God-pleasing life. 

John tells us we become “murderers” when we let the darkness of hate into our lives.

You may not physically kill anyone, but feelings of anger, hate, and resentment in the mind and heart are just as deadly.

The secret grudge, the envy in the heart, is murderous in its nature.

Those feelings come from the same dark spirit that leads people to cause physical harm.

Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios that demonstrate how this progression can take place.

The progression is the same, whether or not it involves hate towards others of different skin colors. In this scenario, ethnicity is not a factor.

Scenario #1: Marcus and Zach

Marcus and Zach have been in school together since 1st grade. They are not friends but not enemies either. They were classmates. Both were bright with great potential.

As they moved from elementary to middle school, things began to change for one of them. 

Zach did not see the need to put a lot of effort into his schoolwork, while Marcus studied and tried his best. Over time, Zach grew to dislike Marcus. It was not because Marcus talked about Zach or was unkind to him; he just didn’t like the “star student” as he put it. 

By the time they made it to high school, Zach could not stand Marcus. Marcus was honest and hard working. He was everything Zach wasn’t. Zach cut corners on assignments and just didn’t see the point of going the extra mile. So now he resents everything Marcus is. 

While on the other hand, Marcus has no bad feelings toward Zach. In fact, he doesn’t give much thought to Zach at all. He is just another student in the class. 

One day in class, after a major project, their teacher began to give out grades. As the score sheets are given out, Zach peeks at Marcus’ paper. “Great, another A for Marcus,” he thinks to himself. Zach gets his score, and it’s a D and a note from the teacher to stay after class. He balls up his paper and shoves it in his bag. 

At the end of class, Marcus gets up and heads out of the room. He has no idea that his classmate has so much resentment toward him. He is simply going about his day. Zach, however, finds himself after class with the teacher. 

Say: In this scenario, the honest life of one person exposes the wrong of the other person.

When a person chooses anger, resentment or hate, they are choosing darkness over light.

Hate and all the negative feelings that come with it (hostility, anger, fear, etc.) cause division.  

A person that lives in hate creates division between themselves and others. They also create division between themselves and God.

Read 1 John 4:16-21.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Say: It is God’s love for us that allows us to love one another.

Love is not a word but an action, which includes what we say and think.

John says we are to love our brothers and sisters.

But often, we have questions and/or excuses for God…

  • You don’t know what they did to me, how can I love them?
  • What will people say or think of me?
  • I don’t understand their people; they aren’t like me. 
  • They don’t even like me, why should I be kind to people who don’t like me.
  • I don’t even know that person, why should I love them.

Let’s take a look at another scenario…

Scenario #2: Kennedy 

Kennedy and her family moved from their small town to a larger city when her father got a new job. 

While Kennedy’s town had families of other races, it was not a lot, and she didn’t know them. Now Kennedy finds herself in a new middle school of students from different cultures and religions. She feels out of place because not only is she the new kid, but she doesn’t understand the people around her. 

Every day at lunch, she never sits at a table, not even an empty one. Kennedy would find a spot in the corner on the steps and eat there. She met with the school counselor to check in on her transition to school. 

He asks her if she has made many friends. Kennedy says, “No. I don’t think I will. None of these kids are like me. I don’t know or understand anything about them.” 

Her counselor looks at her and asks one question, “have you tried?” he says. “Have you tried to get to know anyone or let them get to know you.” He explained that if she let her fear of the unknown take over, she would never move out of the corner. 

One day, Kennedy walks into the cafeteria and is devastated. Her seat on the steps is blocked for repair work. After weeks of eating in the corner, she is now forced to sit at a table. 

She looks around the sea of diversity in the cafeteria, realizing this is the moment she will either sink or swim; when Rachel throws her a lifesaver. “Hi, I’m Rachel. We have Science together. Do you want to sit here?” gesturing to an empty table. Hesitant yet relieved, Kennedy sits with Rachel at the table. 

During lunch, the girls eat and talk. The entire time Kennedy thinks, “Will people think we are friends now? Could we be friends? She doesn’t even know me. Why is she nice to me?” 

For the next week, the girls meet in the cafeteria and have lunch. Rachel shares with Kennedy that she was once the new girl and knows how it feels. Kennedy realizes she has a lot of the same classes as Rachel. 

The next week, both Kennedy and Rachel come into the cafeteria and see it at the same time – the stairs are fixed. They look at the stairs and then each other. Kennedy takes a seat on her familiar step and invites Rachel to join her. 

SayIn this scenario, we see how fear of the unknown and the opinions of others can hinder a person from positive life experiences and relationships.  

This story demonstrates that often, many of our excuses and questions are rooted in fear.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of what others will think or say.

Anger for past hurt. 

This is why it is so important to rely on the love God has for us. Fear is not from God; love is. It is God’s love that strengthens us to love others. 

CLOSING ACTIVITY

For this activity, you will need a match or small flashlight.

Turn off all the lights in the room. 

Make it as dark as you possibly can. 

Then, strike a match or turn on the flashlight. 

Say: Even a small amount of light can break through the darkness. Even the love of one person can begin to break through hate. 

Note – This can be adapted if you’re doing the lesson online by having only the leader perform the demonstration while students watch.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why is it impossible to love God and hate other people?
  1. How can anger and fear turn into hate? Give an example for each.
  1. What role do fear and hate play when it comes to racism?
  1. Hatred is a learned behavior. It is not something you are born with. What steps can a person take to replace hate with love?
  1. In scenario #1 – What impact did Zach’s resentment of Marcus have on his life? What impact did it have on Marcus’ life?
  1. What does 1 John 2: 10 mean when it says, “there is nothing in them to make them stumble?”
  1. Do you believe hate is a learned behavior? Why or why not?
  1. God’s love is not limited. Ethnicity, skin tone, gender, etc. do not cancel His love for mankind.  How can following God’s example of love help to overcome racism?
  1. In scenario #2 –  How might Kennedy’s middle school experience have gone had she stayed away from others who are different from her?  What role did Rachel play in breaking through Kennedy’s wall of fear?
  1. Think about your previous interactions and conversations with others—specifically, people who are of different ethnicity, gender, religion, or economic class. 
  • How well have you represented God’s love to the people around you? 
  • How well have you represented God’s love to the people around you? 
  • How well have you represented God’s love to the people around you? 

End lesson.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Note: As mentioned above, this is 3 of 4 lessons on racism. Check out the other three lessons here:

Lesson 1 – What is Racism?

Lesson 2 – Racial Bias

Lesson 4 – Discrimination

About the writer: Natasha Menifee is a writer, teacher and serves as the Christian Education Director at First Baptist Church in Winchester, Kentucky. She holds two master’s degrees from Georgetown College in Learning & Behavior Disorders and Teacher Leadership. She is the proud mother of two daughters.

About this lesson: This lesson is the result of a collaborative effort of 100+ youth ministry leaders from around the world, and the extensive work of our writing team. We spent weeks (which turned into months) listening to youth leaders on Zoom calls, researching the topic, asking others their personal experiences regarding racism, praying about what direction to take, writing, re-writing, editing, etc.

Looking for youth group lessons or Bible lessons for kids? Shop our selection of youth & children’s ministry curriculum: 

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4 thoughts on “YOUTH LESSON ON RACISM – HATRED (3 of 4)

  • October 7, 2020 at 2:53 pm
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    Thank you so much for making this lesson available free of charge.

    Sincerely,

    Reply
    • October 8, 2020 at 9:26 pm
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      You are very welcome! We are glad that you enjoyed this lesson.
      – Kate Forkel, Ministry to Youth

      Reply
  • October 11, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Truly appreciate your lessons on Racism. Very thought provoking and encouraging.
    I AM AME–I recognized the names right away.
    In your “closer look at the story of the Charleston Nine” the most significant part was overlooked.. how the families of those who were murdered–FORGAVE the shooter, when he was arraigned.
    See movie Emanuel 9 directed by Brian Ivie and produced by Stephen Curry, Viola Davis and Mariska Hargitay

    Only 48 hours after having lost mothers, sisters, sons, husbands and wives, their loved ones appeared in court for Roof’s bond hearing, and what transpired was something no one could have anticipated.
    “I forgive you … You took something really precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again, I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you and have mercy on your soul,” Nadine Collier, whose mother was Ethel Lane.

    The shooter wanted to start a RACE WAR! But the grace of God and the power of forgiveness, that did not happen.

    Please share their story (Emanuel 9)–you shared the shooters story–but God has a better story than his!
    God bless and Thank you.

    Reply
    • October 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm
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      I had no idea about all this. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing!!!

      Reply

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