We work in a very interesting field of work, something that is part business and part church organization. Sometimes that can make it difficult to balance the way we respond in a situation. “Am I just doing my job or am I missing a spiritual component in what I am doing that I should have?” “Where is the line where I’m done business and do church (what in the world does it mean to “do church” anyway?), or vice versa?”
One realization that came about early in the work as Director is that everything is ministry. No matter if it is business details, organization details, registering a child or taking their Rec-Hall money, everything is ministry. Jesus calls us to minister to those around us, and Paul reiterates that we are to do that in EVERYTHING we do:
“whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”
1 Corinthians 10:31
Realize Paul just happened to be talking about Christian liberty (your freedom to do certain things in Christ) in response to idols, idol worship and the deception Israel almost always succumbed to from such idols. He then starts talking about how to minister to others even in the small things you choose to eat or drink in their presence. He calls us to consider the impact our choices have on others rather than the fact we are not wrong , in our freedom, to make those choices. He prioritizes others over himself and he calls for us to deny ourselves for the benefit of those around us:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
Even as he tries to please everyone in every way, Paul informs us that we must not cause others to stumble along the way. This is an act of seeking their good over our own.
This is camp, and I know it is hard sometimes as staff. We as a camp, and a ministry are here for the campers, the retreat groups, the visitors. Sometimes we wonder, what about us? How do we fit into the equation of those who the camp is for? As a Director things don’t change, and as much as I would like to spend time with the staff, time with the campers, time with the groups, etc., for my own enjoyment, that is not ultimately what God has me here for (even though He does let me experience and enjoy that at times).
Here is the hard truth, camp is not here for the staff. Camp is not here for the director. Camp is here for the ministry and requires us to do ministry in all that we do here. But it isn’t this way just for the ministry or because it is a job.
It is this way because of Jesus.
Jesus called us to this ministry here at the camp. All of us have ended up here because of the work that Jesus did, does, and will continue to do in our lives. We are here out of a desire to follow Jesus. In that following of Jesus we were lead to serve at camp. What does it mean to serve Jesus at the camp? If you remember back to last week, we talked about the concept of denying ourselves. Jesus asks us to forsake all other things to pursue Him with all of our being. So how does this denying of ourselves and following Jesus help us in the ministry of the camp? Well, let’s look to scripture:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
This is Paul’s description of what it means to follow Jesus, what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to count “EVERYTHING as loss.” In her book, “This Changes Everything”, Jaquelle Crowe, (who is a teenager herself at the time she wrote this book) describes six things a Christian does according to this passage:
Devalues EVERYTHING else
Puts Faith in Christ alone
Suffers for Him
Becomes like Him
Does Paul really count EVERYTHING as loss? Do we really need to devalue EVERYTHING else outside of Jesus? Really, though? EVERYTHING? Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10 for a moment. While Paul is talking about liberty (your freedom to do certain things in Christ) he makes the following statement that informs our question on the “EVERYTHING?” Topic:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10: 23-24
Even in our liberty we are responsible to discern that although all things are lawful, or permissible, not all those things are helpful. Not all those things build up. In the midst of even our liberty (your freedom to do certain things in Christ) our decisions are ministry based rather than self-serving. Even in liberty we are to seek the good of those around us above our own good. If that is not a clear example of devaluing everything, I don’t know what is!
Here is another excerpt from Jacquelle’s book (and the last excerpt, since you will be reading this book in the summer!) which brings home the principle I want to impart to you through this week’s devotional blog (emphasis added):
“Paul was the quintessential example of devaluing everything because of how much he treasured Christ. He suffered brutal shipwrecks and bloody beatings, lashings and imprisonments, starvation and snake bites, thirst, discomfort, loss, loneliness, and pain all because Jesus was worth it (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
Jesus was better than safety.
Jesus was better than health.
Jesus was better than food.
Jesus was better than friends.
Paul counted everything as loss because Jesus was so much better than EVERYTHING.”
You and I, we have to look at our lives and ask ourselves, Do I do that? Do I live like Jesus is better than my phone? Is Jesus better than my body? Is Jesus better than makeup? Is Jesus better than sports? Would I gladly give it all up, without hesitation, for Jesus? Would I really?”
Paul counts all the things he has done, all the pursuits he had personally, all the desires he would like to see become reality, as loss. He counts it all, EVERYTHING, as loss and leaves it behind in order to be free to pursue Christ, to know Him. He counts EVERYTHING as loss to minister others toward Jesus without anything holding him back. But he doesn’t count that loss as a negative. Paul is ecstatic to be able to take part in the pursuit of the Cross at the expense of every other pursuit he could ever seek.
I want you to think about this. No, really think about it.
When you give your time for the summer, you are acting in your faith. You are acting on that promise you promised to God when you choose to follow Jesus, the promise to forsake all things and follow Him who gives you life. You are counting all the other summer opportunities as loss for the sake of following Jesus as He walks through and touches the lives of the children who attend here at PMBC. You are experiencing the ultimate fulfilling experience that Jesus himself lived for, investing a hope of eternity and relationship with God into the hearts of those who desperately seek meaning and fulfillment.
We aren’t losing our opportunity to get a higher paying job, make more money, spend more time with friends, or do what we want to do. We are gaining the highest privilege and most important experience in our lives - becoming more like Jesus and less like ourselves.
It is through our becoming like Jesus at camp that we find our most fulfilling experience. This isn’t just true for camp, this is true for your whole life. When we can finally forsake all other things to follow Jesus and only Jesus, we find the joy that Paul discusses in pursuing Him with his whole life. We also find that we are more invested in His work, causing us to have more fun through His work, and connect more deeply with one another in sharing His work. Working at camp is not about the staff or the director. Working at camp is about following Jesus, and when we think those thoughts of “what about us, where do we fit into the equation, what is here for us?”, think about Jesus.
Jesus is here for us, and Jesus is enough
Resources and Attributions
Crowe, J. (2017). This changes everything: How the gospel transforms the teen years. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Scripture Used in Post:
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
ESV Bible Translation