Soaked in Love
Stronger in Relationship
When I was in 7th grade, I hit my glory days. In fact, before I tell this story, let me back up a few years. I hated girls. H.A.T.E.D. girls. Anyone who would listen I told them about my distaste. I was going to be a professional baseball player and no GIRL was going to get in the way.
Well, puberty is a funny thing. Around 7th grade, I started to like girls. To my fortune, and this is no exaggeration, the two hottest/cutest/most popular girls liked me.
You know, it was one of those…OMG, John, Lindsey Higgins likes you and wants to date you! John, Betsy Johnson, she really likes you. You should send her a note! Hehehe.
In one fell swoop, I went from hating girls to having to face the dilemma of TWO GIRLS who liked me! What’s a guy to do?
So, I did what any rational, caring, loving, considerate 7th grader would do – I lied to one of them and asked the other one out!
Let me explain. V-Day, 1998. We sent these things in our school called Val-Grams. So, the night before, I sweated over my Val Grams to both girls (because of course, I had to send to both). At this point, it was a race, right? So, to Lindsey, I wrote, “You know, you’re awesome, I love you, but it’s just not gonna work. I just want to focus on baseball and I don’t want a girlfriend right now.” I don’t know if this was my TRUE intention or not, but I proceeded to ask out Betsy during “the slow song” on Valentine’s Day that very same day.
Oh yes, relationships and love. I think I broke up with her at Summer Camp that next summer.
Today, you are here as part of the CLC Big Family Youth Camp. Soaked. What an opportunity! Here we are, in a beautiful setting in the San Bernandino Mountains, hanging out with some of our best friends and some new friends, able to focus intently on God, getting to know each other better, and enjoying some incredible activities.
You have an opportunity to experience something “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can fully know.”
In fact, that’s the theme verse. It’s from I Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can fully know what God has in store for those who love Him.”
The older I get, the more I understand this verse. The more I live the way Jesus instructs me to live, the more I am amazed at life. This weekend, you have an opportunity to experience the wonder, amazement, and surprise of a life lived according to Jesus’ idea for living.
But when you have an opportunity, you must SEIZE it. Carpe Diem. Say it. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day. Carpe Diem.
Today, we are talking about going “Stronger in Relationship.” One of the ways Jesus calls us to live is to be “stronger in relationship” with one another. Jesus modeled relationships much better than I did with Lindsey and Betsy. In fact, he modeled relationships in a revolutionary manner. He “soaked” people in love. Drastic amounts of love.
Paul, one of the early Apostles of Christianity, wrote this letter called Philippians. In Philippians chapter 2, Paul is reflecting on the attitude and life of Christ. Let’s read it together:
“1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
What a perfect summary of Jesus. What’s unique about Jesus is that he was a revolutionary, a person living in subversion to the world. Most of what he taught was entirely unique and opposite of what the World taught people.
So, we are going to talk about three ways to go stronger in relationship. What’s funny about that is that “stronger” is such a competitive, oppressive word. The way of Jesus is actually the opposite of “strong” as we think of it. Somehow, someway, Jesus calls us to live stronger in relationship with each other by becoming less than one another.
The first way to go “stronger in relationship” is to Soak Yourself in Humility.
Before we talk about humility, let’s talk about the opposite: Selfishness.
Who has ever seen an athlete on television talk about him/herself? One of the most notoriously selfish athlete’s is Terrell Owens, the wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. You may have seen this guy around (he’s incredibly buff, he’s been crying on television, etc.), but he is the most selfish athlete in all of professional sports. No one wants to play with him. He goes from team to team ranting and raving about how he’s the best player and how he needs the ball all the time.
He is the epitome of selfishness. “THROW ME THE BALL.”
Humility is the greatest characteristic a person can possess in this lifetime. It is the foundation to great leadership and a great Christian life.
Jesus embodied humility in every facet. Jesus was God. As God of the universe, Jesus could have come and reigned as King of the World. Instead, he rode donkeys, was born in a stable, and lived among the prostitutes and the poor of the world.
This week, you have an opportunity. You can consider yourself less than others and love them despite being different, younger, or not as cool. If you think of yourself as better than someone else, you have an ego problem. If you soak yourself in humility, you’ll love as Christ loved.
Have you ever heard that song, I Don’t WANNA GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, AND LOSE MY SOUL? It’s like that: Don’t try to be better than someone. Try to help someone. Try to think as other people as better than you.
Second, Soak Yourself in Service.
In elementary school, how many people ran to the front of the line to be line-leader, or ran outside to get the ball first or the tether ball court first or the jump ropes first? I sure did.
This is not how Jesus lived. He said things like: “The last will be first and the first will be last” and “To love even your enemies” and to “wash the feet of those people who persecute you.”
The second way we become stronger in relationship is the SOAK YOURSELF IN SERVICE.
Picture of Jesus washing Osama’s feet.
Jesus understood something that not many people understand today. We live with this mindset that we need to be stronger than the other person, that there are those that are evil and we who are good. Jesus totally flipped that idea upside-down. In order to really live as Jesus lived and go stronger in relationship as Jesus did, you have to be willing to serve…even Osama.
Jesus, during his most famous Sermon known as the Sermon on the Mount, called people to love even their enemies. He says, “It’s easy to love and serve people who are your friends. Real service is to serve those who are your enemies!”
What?! You mean, we’re not supposed to bomb the hell out of Iraq and Aghanistan!? NO! Absolutely not. If we read into the life of Jesus at all, we see that he called us to love our enemies and serve people.
Jesus would wash Osama’s feet, of this I can be certain.
Last, Soak Yourself in Compassion.
Growing up, one of my best friends was named Clinton Grief. Clinton and I did everything together: Whiffle ball, video games, baseball, football, wrestling, fake guns. We were best friends. Then, one day, his parents sat me down (I was about 9 years old) and told me they were moving to North Carolina.
Has anyone had a friend move away to another state or city? Yes, heartbreaking.
When he moved away, his parents promised me that he would return for summer camp that following year.
So, Clinton returns (and this is about a year later) and comes to Camp Mayfield. Of course, a lot changes in a year. I had developed new friends and sometimes, well, you don’t want to let people into your new tightknit circle of friends.
Throughout the week, Clinton tried to immerse himself back into our friendship circle. It just wasn’t happening. My older brother Ryan, who was also my camp counselor, had talked to Clinton about how sad he was and then talked to me, but even then, I wouldn’t incorporate him into anything we were doing.
This camp started on Monday, and about Thursday, I found Clinton crying in our cabin. It hit me right then and there: I was being a real jerk. Not only had I not been friendly, I’d gone out of my way to keep him out of the group. I personally wrecked Clinton’s camp experience and our friendship. I was not being compassionate.
Conclusion: Soak Yourself in Love
You want to know how to live like Christ and how to change the world? Soak people in love.
I read a book recently: A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Ishmael was a 12 year old growing up – like many of you — but in Sierra Leone. This is where his story shifts dramatically from yours.
See, in Sierra Leone, there is a massive diamond business and civil war over the business. At the age of 11, Ishmael was forced into an army, ripped away from his family, and given massive amounts of drugs. These drugs induced him into a life of killing. For the next 3 years, from 1991-1994 and ages 11-14, he was a boy soldier, killing others with AK-47s under drug-induced fighting.
By the time an organization known as UNICEF rescued him, he was barely human. In fact, he called himself an animal. He spent the next several months detoxing from his life of murder and drugs. Day after day, despite attempting to kill many of the workers, the Christian community just loved him – unconditionally. When he brutally wounded one of the workers, he found him back at his bedside the next day telling him that “he loved him and that it wasn’t his fault.”
Love. Love. Love.
When you combine humility (not considering yourself better than others), with service (loving even those who are enemies) and compassion (caring deeply for someone’s well-being), you are living as Christ lived
Soak yourself in love. Soak others in love. It’s a crazy love that doesn’t make sense to the world.
Here’s the way we’re going to do this right now:
I want groups of 4 (1 MS boy, 1 MS girl, 1 HS, and 1 leader). Go around and ask, what can I pray for you this weekend and what can I do for you this weekend? Seriously, think about it. Do you want them to carry your bags? To play football with you? To talk to you about a girl/guy relationship?
Then, after that, live this out this weekend. When you see someone by themselves, talk to them. When you see someone needing help, help them. When you see someone who needs their dishes picked up, take it for them.
Soak Yourself in Love