This was my first time at a high school Christian camp and first time joining Chad on a week-long speaking event, so I came out the other side with quite a few lessons learned. Here are my top five from “Forum”, which is when Chad spoke (one per night):
1. The undeserved, unearned love of God changes everything; Grace changes everything.
Being chosen despite me is far different from being chosen because of me. The undeserved love of God in Christ is only a theory until I’ve come to the end of myself: my good deeds, my penance, my misperception of my own awesomeness.
This brings much freedom because, if true, this means my OK-ness is no longer dependent on how I feel or how I perform: it is dependent on the permanent, set love of God.
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV)
2. Jesus doesn’t settle for superficial relationships.
When grace is made real, it doesn’t leave us room for our lives to look the same. Like Jesus does with the woman at the well (John 4), he pokes at our sore spots until we either love him or hate him. And because he is perfect, whenever he pokes it is for our good, to bring repentance, healing, redemption, and deeper joy than we ever thought possible through him.
The biggest sore spot that I was “poked at” for years was my unforgiveness and bitterness towards my dad. It wasn’t until I started to see the sore spot for what it is that I began to see that Jesus takes the darkest of my days and deepest of my shame to bring me into a closer relationship with him. It’s one of many sore spots that are still being healed to this day, but I have tasted and seen that his “prodding” is for my good. :)
3. Jesus removed the hulking barrier of my sin between God and me.
It blows my mind again and again to think that Jesus willingly took on the wrath of God in order to save me from having to pay for my sins myself. The longer I walk with Jesus, the more sinful I realize I am, which makes it so that this truth will hopefully never stop blowing my mind. There is nowhere I could ever find love like this anywhere else.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
4. The Spirit of God lives in me and will always point me to Jesus.
Because I cannot believe the gospel in my own wisdom, this means the Spirit of God has lived inside me from the moment I believed. It is the Spirit who convicted me of my sin for the first time. It is the Spirit who gave me faith in Jesus for the first time. It is the Spirit who helped me obey Jesus for the first time.
And he is the same Spirit who does that in me today. My repentance, belief, and obedience cannot take part outside of the Spirit’s work in my life.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17 ESV)
5. The mission of God is the greatest adventure I will ever get to take part in.
God in his grace not only forgives and gives us righteousness, he brings us into his mission… and the mission is not for us to be little Jesuses. We are fools who are broken and have nothing inherent to give; we proclaim the excellencies of HIM who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light! (Chad on the last night.)
The Great Commission Jesus gives his disciples is to, as they go, go and make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20). There is nothing that will ever compare to this mission God has us on.
But without a properly placed identity, all efforts for mission would be in vain. When I am more consumed by the approval of others than on God’s set approval of me in Christ, it is sin and will cripple me from effectively ministering to others… What I need then isn’t to do more/try harder, I need more faith to believe so that I might enjoy his amazing grace before telling people about how amazing it is.
And so this concludes my lessons learned from Forum. Crazy thing is this is just the tip of the iceberg with how much more the Lord revealed to me this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to sit down and write about those soon.
Grace to you.