Bible Study on “The Hunger Games”
I just ran across a great devotional/Bible study based on The Hunger Games, and I thought I would share it with you. I’m a huge fan (I’m reading the 2nd book now) and I’m guessing many of you are as well. You could do this as a personal devotional or, even better, get some friends, family members, or roommates together for a great discussion and reflection on God’s Word.
It was originally created by Tim Blake, a youth minister in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. Here’s the original YouthMinistry.com link or directly from his blog. His document was written to be used by youth leaders, so I just adapted it to be used directly by youth.
Again, I DID NOT WRITE THIS. I WANT TO GIVE FULL CREDIT TO TIM BLAKE. He’s the man!
SACRIFICIAL LOVE (Romans 5:6-8)
How many of you have read the book or seen the movie The Hunger Games? If you haven’t read it or seen it, I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it’s a pretty big deal right now! The book has almost 3 million copies in print and the movie opened at #1 grossing $155 million dollars – the third highest US opening weekend of all time (#1 is the final Harry Potter movie, and #2 is The Dark Knight – via LATimes.com). Clearly The Hunger Games has captivated our culture.
The basic premise of the story is this: it’s the tale of a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in a post-apocalyptic future in a country called Panem (formerly known as North America). “The Capitol” is the highly advanced and wealthy center of Panem and holds absolute authority over the 12 “districts” that make up the nation. Every year, as part of a system to keep the districts from rebelling and to remind them of the power of the Capitol, two 12-18 year-olds, one male and one female, are drawn in a lottery called “The Reaping” and become tributes who are forced to compete in a to-the-death televised battle called The Hunger Games in which there can be only one winner. Katniss has a younger sister named Prim who she loves very much, and in a heart-wrenching twist, Prim’s name is chosen in The Reaping. Katniss courageously and sacrificially volunteers to take Prim’s place, and the story goes on from there.
- Using just a word or two, describe the world of The Hunger Games (as you just heard or as you know it from the books or movie).
- How would you feel if your name was chosen in “The Reaping”?
- How would you feel if someone you loved had his or her named called in “The Reaping”?
- From what you know about The Hunger Games (whether you’re a diehard fan or just learned the premise), what do you think is so appealing about the story?
One of the most obvious themes of The Hunger Games is the idea of sacrifice, and we see that specifically in Katniss’ sacrifice for Prim. It’s a moving scene in the book and the movie when she volunteers as tribute to take Prim’s place in the games. You can watch clips of it in this trailer:
- Why is it moving to see sacrificial love in action?
- Can you think of a real-life example of this type of love that you’ve seen?
- Who are some people in your life that you would die for?
Most of us have someone in our lives we would die for. Whether it’s a family member (mom, dad, brother, little sister), someone we love deeply, or even a close friend, we all believe, or would like to believe, that if it ever came down to it, we have, somewhere in us, the nobility or the courage to stand up and defend them or take their place. But what about laying down our lives for someone else? What about volunteering to take the place of someone we don’t like, or someone who doesn’t like us, or even someone who hates us? What about trading our lives for the lives of our enemies? That’s a harder thing to imagine. But do you know what is amazing? That is EXACTLY what kind of love that Jesus had/has for us. Read this passage:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” –Romans 5:6-8, NLT
The Bible says that Christ died for us while we were still sinners – in other words, while we were against Him, He was still for us. While we had our backs turned toward Him, He picked up the cross anyway. That kind of love is incomprehensible! It’s beautiful! It’s amazing! And more than anything else, it’s REAL. And God offers that love to all of us, all we have to do is accept it as a free gift from Him, and follow the One who showed the greatest love of all. (This is a good point to, in your own words, challenge students who have never decided to follow Jesus to do just that, before you move to close in groups.)
- In The Hunger Games, Katniss’ decision to volunteer is motivated by her deep love for her sister Prim. What do you think motivated Jesus to lay down His life for us “while we were still sinners”?
- How should we respond to Jesus’ love for us? What sorts of things should we do, and what type of people should we be in light of what He’s done for us?
- You might have friends who don’t believe in or follow Jesus but love The Hunger Games. How could you use the book or movie to talk about God’s love for them?
God’s sacrificial love is AMAZING! Amen to that!