Saturday, July 29, 2017

I'm glad my kids are learning how to fight.

My kids got into a heated conversation on the ride home from camp last night. Our little denominational church camp has a culminating week each July that eclipses the rest of the summer, in terms of attendance, excitement, and testing the capacity of the septic system. They call it "Camp on the Rock."
I have not attended it, but I've experienced it vicariously for enough years to have a pretty good idea how it goes. The kids learn dances to contemporary praise songs that even the boys join in and love; they hear teaching twice-a-day; they spend some recreation time every day doing the normal camp-stuff like throwing rotten food at each other in a giant food fight and chasing each other around in the dark with glow-bracelets; and on Thursday night, they witness a reenactment of the crucifixion that puts them face-to-face with the reality of what Jesus did for us.
Both girls had a super week and were inspired at how God was on the move for them and others, but they had really different perspectives. One was grappling with the theology of the messages and feeling uncomfortable that there wasn't enough Grace offered to balance all the messages about Sin-and-Sacrifice. The other strongly disagreed and was convinced that she and other young people really needed direct instruction about how to live faithfully as Jesus' disciples, which was the point of the Sin-talk, she felt. Not to condemn them, but to encourage them to live out their faith.
It got a little heated and uncomfortable at times - exhausted teenagers after all and both very confident and articulate about matters of faith. But it was so beautiful, to me. Because both of them were so passionate about what they had experienced. Both were deeply affected by what they believed God was telling them and how that will apply in their daily lives in the coming year. That alone was such a gift to witness. I saw them owning their faith and their experience - and motivated to make their beliefs real and applicable. I saw the Holy Spirit at work in them and through each of them, impacting the other.
Aside from that - and this was hard - they also had to practice holding each other's perpsectives in contrast to their own, accepting the difference, and loving each other. That, my friends, was very hard. That's hard for adults, let alone exhausted teens.
When our faith is so central to our identity and we feel the weight of eternity hanging on what we understand and believe about God, who Jesus is, and what we are supposed to (or not supposed to) do about it, it is so hard to give someone else space to make their own journey. It is so hard to accept that where God is calling me may not match right up with where and how God is calling you - even when we just spent a week dancing to the same music and hearing the same Word.
But that is, I believe, a big part of how the church is supposed to work. Not as a chorus in unison, but as a chord of harmony. Because both my kids, ultimately, were singing a song about Love. God's love that sanctifies and transforms. And how we who've experience it can best let it shine for others. And we just don't all have to shine the same way.
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21

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