God is the one who puts the value on all people… and He says that ALL people are worth dying for. As we value the campers as God does… we begin to see Jesus in them. First, as they are image bearers of God. Second, as their lives reflect Jesus in the ways that God has created them. Their vulnerability, peace, kindness, and joy are all a reflection of Jesus. They do not “try” to exemplify these characteristics. It is simply who they are. In their weakness they are a unique instrument of God’s grace, a revelation of God among us. Because of who they are we can clearly see God and see who we are to become.
Can our campers pray? Do they know who God is? Do they understand what the name of Jesus means? Can they believe in the scriptures and hold them as truth?
These are human questions. These are questions that may never be answered. These are also questions that come from below not from above. We, the so-called “normal” people, look at our campers and wonder how much they are like us. But they make no comparison. They simply live life and by their lives invite us to receive a unique gift – wrapped in weakness for our transformation. While we worry about how much we produce or how we have performed… our campers tell us – it is more important to be rather than to do. While we are consumed with what others think of us… our campers tell us – God’s love is more important than the praises of other people.
It is a great mystery in scripture that – the least shall be first, losing our lives is how we find them and gentleness inherits God’s kingdom. Do NOT miss the unique gift that proclaims this truth right in front you! Remember, the gift not received is the gift not given.
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“The gift not
received is the
gift not given.”
The campers will see through fake smiles, and resentful hearts. They notice empty words and empty hearts sometimes even before we ourselves do. They uncover our irritable nature, impatience, cold demeanor, vane niceties, jealousy and lack of interest. What really matters to them is true friendship, pure love and faithful presence. “Their heart registers with extreme sensitivity what is real care and what is false, what is true affection and what is just empty words. Thus, they often reveal to us our own hypocrisies and invite us always to greater sincerity and purer love” (Adam 19).
Through these whom the world has made marginal and useless, God speaks mightily. Through our campers – the poor and weak, the broken, He makes His presence known. In our production-oriented, success-driven world this makes no sense. But to God it makes perfect sense.
The Gift - in the context of Shepherds Camp is a powerful experience of God's presence as He is both with us and for us. However, the gift of others extends to all people... who are image bearers of God. We are designed for relationships... not solely relationships with a goal in mind for the other person (simply connections that have more to do with ideologies and less to do with standing with and for others in Jesus), but relationships that stand with and for others in the presence of Jesus (the incarnate, crucified, resurrected One who makes possible relationships that are transformational).