It's been about one week since the youth got back from summer camp. During our time at Sky Ranch, it became clear that we were encountering a mountaintop experience. Just like Peter, James, and John in Matthew 17, we were seeing Jesus in a different light, a light we had never seen before. Here's some of the highlights of what we have learned;
1. Everyone thinks grace is unfair till they're the person that needs it. We've all felt it. The feeling of bitterness we get when someone gets a form of mercy we think they don't deserve. Maybe it's a coworker, a cousin or a spouse, and we think to ourselves "This is so unfair. They don't deserve that. They're just going to mess up again!" But if we take a look at ourselves, we can see times when God has been good to us when we didn't deserve it. (which is probably, like, everyday. Can I get a witness?)
2. Jesus lived an unfair life. If anyone wants a good, clean definition of the word unfair, they should just read the story of Jesus's death. Jesus was the only person on this earth that did not deserve to die, and he died one of the most painful deaths possible. On top of that, his life wasn't full of glitz or glam either. He was poor, a vagabond, and the government hated him. Sounds peachy right? Wrong. But he did it to prove that his love was strong enough to handle the physical and temporary pains of this world. And maybe you can take it as an encouragement. The next time you feel cheated, used or manipulated, do not react in anger, Jesus felt that way too.
3. Jesus is not against you. A lot of the time, we Christians conjure up the worst thing that could possibly happen to us and then wait for God to peg us with lightning. We brace for the worst and try to tell ourselves that if its God's will, that we can take it. Although this flawed thinking seems noble, it just makes God seem kinda like a school yard bully. Let me make this clear, God does not want you to suffer, but suffering is a part of life. Hebrews 5:8 says that Jesus learned obedience through suffering, so we should try learn from suffering the same way that Jesus did. But this does not mean that God is purposely going to make our worst nightmare a reality. Whether it be drowning, cancer, or the death of a child, God is not just waiting to peg you and make you hurt so you can get good christian points for not cussing when it happens. What this verse means is that we must take every heartache and use it for good in anyway we can.
4. We are always a slave to something. This one may seem a tad confusing, but think about it; when you were a kid you were a slave to what toy you wanted, and to your parents who would buy it for you. In high school it was the latest trends, or you GPA so you could earn even more slavery to whatever college or job you wanted to take. Being human is exhausting, isn't it? It doesn't have to be. In Matthew 11:30 Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Life gets heavy, and none of us can carry it alone or it will surely crush us. But Jesus is strong and he shares the weight of it with us if we are willing to follow him and do it his way. For the fiercely independent and strong willed (shout-out) it might seem a little demeaning to have to to give up control to someone we admit to being bigger and stronger than us. But make no mistake, it is far better to be a slave to Jesus than a King of anything else.