The World In Which We Do Camp
I wish at times (more times than not) that we could just “do camp”. There is a degree of simplicity that exists when kids show up on opening day and are genuinely excited to be there. Then we get to watch as they happily transform into being campers for a week. They leave the cares of their lives behind (mostly) and they cut loose and have fun. The huge bonus is that they do so with a counselor who has fun right alongside them. And in that context a relationship emerges, love is exchanged and Jesus is exposed. And if that is not enough the whole thing takes place within the grand display of God’s creation. Are you feeling it?
But when you retract the camera lens and broaden the scene to include the world in which this all takes place you discover that sometimes it rains on your parade. You find suffocating regulations that are difficult to navigate. You find a variety of influences aimed at slowing you down and keeping kids away. And you find a culture bent on squeezing Jesus out of the picture and mobilizing to discredit and even to destroy. All too often as a leader you have to step away from the campfire and into the fray and it’s discouraging.
When you read the Psalms you discover that David felt the same tension. In the midst of one of the most powerful depictions of a loving God who is everywhere present and intimately involved (Psalm 139) David blurts out unexpectedly, “O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!”. He then proceeds to pose a question, “Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?” A question, by the way, he chooses to answer himself in the affirmative. We feel your pain, David!
Jesus sought to prepare his disciples for this reality when he explained, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (Jn. 15). And in his prayer in the Upper Room Jesus says to his Father, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth…”(Jn. 17).
So here we are, living in the world, ministering to the world, being opposed by the world but not belonging to that world. Sheesh! Now you know why I crave simplicity. But maybe the path is clearer than we think. We know we are not here to be conformed to the world nor are we here to find a way out of it. And while, like David, we may feel compelled to hate what opposes God we understand that it is in this world that God has placed us. It is in this world where the truth about God can be put on display and where his love can be lavishly given. And that brings us right back to why we “do camp” and how such a thing can make a difference in our world. I guess that means we need to carry on.