So, somehow I am supposed to be able to write these reflections in the midst of the most incomprehensible and amazing summer of my life. This summer has been one of new experiences, new ideas, first times, and new friends. I gave my first morning watches in North Carolina, as well as gave my first attempt at the Cross Fit workouts (thanks Cory), and I watched some of the funniest YouTube videos I’ve even seen in
Oklahoma. I even attempted my first labyrinth as a worship station last week at Central Christian Camp in Oklahoma. Let me just say, those are a lot easier in theory. It took me two hours in the sun, I was late for dinner, and after inhaling way too much spray paint, I stood drenched in my sweat to realize I hadn’t done it completely right (which actually worked out for the best). On top of that, I have welcomed in and been welcomed in by some the most wonderful people in the world and have had experiences that have completely changed who I am…and I’m not even halfway through the summer…
In North Carolina the week’s theme was “Facing your Demons,” which was a focus on all of our live’s burdens and how we confront those to live more fully with God. In Oklahoma it was “Get Real” and looking at who Jesus was and still is, while attempting to understand what Jesus means in our lives. The question raised last week in Oklahoma on the first day was “Who do you say I am,” which Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:13. This was the question that set the tone of the week and led into looking at who is Jesus and the various names for him – Jesus as Friend, Jesus as Teacher, Jesus as Healer, Jesus as Savior. In reflecting on this, it seems that the better question to ask yourself is, “Who does Jesus say I am?”
This question stands out to me and I think rephrasing it may help us better understand our responsibility to the world. We have the tendency to get caught up in all the amazing things Jesus did for us, but what are we doing in return? How are we living in the example he set for us? It is really easy to understand that Jesus was a friend, a healer, and our savior. Now my question to myself and to you is: How are we being friends, teachers, and healers? How are we living in the example of Jesus and being the body of Christ? We still live in this world and one that is very, very messy. As Christians we are called to be the body of Christ so why, then, are we avoiding the messes of the world?
The thing is, this concept, like the labyrinth is very simple in theory, but there is always something burdening us, holding us back, or standing in our way. So what I have concluded is that in order for us to live out the example of Jesus, we might want to recognize the issues that keep us from doing that. For many of us, we have our personal barriers. At the same time, if we are going to make a difference in the world, we may want unmask our society’s problems instead of trying to hide them because its easy. Just remember, as the campers in North Carolina pointed out, you are all worthy of love and belonging and it is okay to allow yourself to be vulnerable with God, or with the world – no matter how difficult that is to do. Jesus didn’t choose easy; rather, he jumped head first into the mess and now, as the body of Christ, it is our turn to jump.
There is no doubt in my mind that the hope for our future is bright. I’ve seen it everyday the last three weeks in all the people I have encountered and it is often times in the smallest of gestures. Like when a camper reaches out to someone completely different than themselves, to an outsider, and pulls them into the dance circle to make them feel welcomed and loved. Then there was the time when a camper questioned the camp for not recycling. Or, I saw it even more clearly last week when the camp in Oklahoma packaged 57,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger, and many of the campers gave up two days of their swim time to do it. Of course, it is easy to do this at camp, but I fully believe these kids are ready to take the peace and acceptance they find at camp to everyone they meet. They understand that they have a responsibility to do more than celebrate our salvation, but to be arms and legs of Jesus – to be the teachers, the friends, and the healers. They also know that it is going to be hard and that there are always obstacles.
Now, the challenge is on us, so ask yourself, who does Jesus I am?