I knew camp was going to be a powerful experience when I got on the bus, choked down a lump in my throat and felt tears forming in my eyes. God so wants these precious people to know that they are loved and included in His life. And although I’d been asked to speak on “Identity,” the word that resonated in my heart was “inclusion.” Can there be any other Biblical context for understanding who we are apart from being the “beloved of God”?
Their hearts were far more open than I’m used to, and by the end of the message not a few were quietly (and tearfully) receiving the truth that God not only loves them, but He likes them.
Last night I chanced upon a article that opened up the whole idea:
Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus the first moment he sat around with the circle of his disciples after they had finally become friends?
We all know what it is to get acquainted with new people, the awkward pauses and measured words as people get to know each other. Certainly the disciples went through that with Jesus. Just who was this Teacher and Miracle-worker and who were these other men who decided to follow him?
It might have happened during a conversation after a meal, or walking together on a road, but at some point they found themselves safe enough with him and each other to let down their guard. No longer measuring words or trying to impress each other, they slipped into the fruits of their burgeoning friendship—the freedom to be honest, to laugh, to ask the seemingly stupid question, and to relax in each other’s presence.
What must that have felt like to Jesus? Had this been what he had always wanted?
For the first time since that cruel day in Eden, God was sitting down with people he loved and they were not cowering in fear. For centuries men and women had stood at a great distance from God, shamed by their sin and intimidated by his holiness. With only a few notable exceptions, people wanted nothing to do with the immediacy of God’s presence. When Mt. Sinai shook with thunder and earthquakes, the people begged Moses to go to God for them. God was a terrifying figure and feeling safe with him was unthinkable.
But God had never thought so. His plan to restore the fellowship with humanity that Adam and Eve had lost in their fall was unfolding. In Jesus, he was able to sit down in the company of those he loved and they were comfortable enough to engage him in a real conversation. What an incredible moment that must have been for Jesus, to be with people who were not so awed by him, that they could not enjoy his presence. (He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen)
Here are a few of those Jesus loves. It’s not a campfire, but a coffee bar. (I’m taking the picture).