Andy Diestlekamp put together a wonderful week of lessons at the Chicagoland FC camp. The theme of the lesson was Through the Fire. It was a study into I Peter. I initially thought it seemed a bit odd to be doing a series of lessons on over coming trials for a bunch of kids ranging from 7-18 years old. I mean, what trials could a 7 year old being raised by Christian parents really be facing. After being there a week, I realized how untrue my initial thoughts were.
I think at times we get ourselves caught up into a little bubble of perfection. We convince ourselves that Christians donít really have any problems. We convince ourselves that if a Christian is suffering through some trial there obviously must be something wrong with their faith. What a childish, immature, and down right dangerous belief this really is. At that camp I learned that some of the children there did not have Christian parents. Many of the children there were suffering through the aftermath of divorce. Some of the children there have had parents who have died. Others had parents who just didnít care. If it werenít for the generosity and love of Christians, that camp would not have been as full. It seemed that many (not most), but many of the kids there really needed a place that they could escape to and be reminded that they are still kids.
Andyís lessons did not rebuke the children, he did not chastise them for feeling week. He simply showed them a better way. One of my favorite lessons through the week was on dreams and hopes. He asked the kids what their dreams were. Playing professional baseball, getting the latest I-phone when it came out, getting a pony for Christmas, winning state, etc. Andy showed them that these dreams can fail, be removed, etc. But his hope, his dream, heaven, nothing on this earth could destroy it. He inspired us all week to hold on to that hope.
These discussions natural created discussion among the staff. I recall talking to one brother in Christ whom I had just met a few days prior shared something with me that shocked me. He shared something with me that was personal. He shared something with me that was typically hidden in Christian circles today. He shared something with me that I know the demons of. As we began talking about these demons we discussed how they were attacking our hope. They were making the pathway to our hope more and more cloudy every day we permitted (or permit) these demons to live in our lives.
This led us to talk about what we believed was the biggest reason why we fail to overcome; why we fail to succumb to temptations in general. The answer was that we convince ourselves that appearing less than perfect is a cardinal sin. Why is it so important that everyone thinks of us as some perfect being that never struggles with oneís faith? Why is it we cannot expose our weakness before each other? Why cannot I not look to you and say, ďI cannot do this alone?Ē What is holding us back? What is hindering us?
I wish there was a simply solution to these questions. I wish that I could just give you one obscure verse and the light bulb goes off in your heart and your NEVER again struggle with being open and honest with others. Alas, such a text does not exist. We have to find a way to move past the fear of being open. We have to find a way to move past the desire to appear perfect. We have to find a way to move past the false security in being approved by men and realize until we stop wearing the mask, we cannot and will not ever be what God has called for us to be.
Do you know who didnít appear weak in New Testament times? Do you know who put on a show of their supposed perfection? Do you know who, deep down, were afraid to admit they ever had a fault? Pharisees.
Jesus frequently called them hypocrites (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7 and 7 different times in Matt. 23). A hypocrite was an actor. It was a person who put on a show for others. If we are showing up to church on Sunday, at the homes of our fellow Christians under the guise that nothing is wrong with our faith when the foundations are crumbling then we are by definition a hypocrite. As a hypocrite I am incapable of getting the help I desperately need. Without the proper help, I cannot pass safely through the fire. The fires of life will come and I will be burned up and I will find that I have nothing to stand upon. I will have nothing because my foundation was not on Jesus Christ but upon my own brand of faith, my own brand of religion.
My friends, it is little wonder why the church in general is suffering, for many out there they are sinners pretending to be perfect rather than genuine Christians seeking for Godís help. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Through the Fire
Volume 8 Issue 25