How to Participate:
Below this section is a devotional to read. It has already been interpreted to the authors understanding and been applied to life in the way in which the Lord has laid it on their heart.
However, we would like to invite you to participate in this devo by having a little Bible study on your own in the way that we run it through our Wilderness department. We call out scripture for the campers to read, followed by a few questions to answer, and teach them 4 steps to break down the passage for interpretation.
These 4 steps are:
Observation: Any information that you can gather from the passage and what is happening around it. Start by gathering background (i.e. author, audience, context) and then move into what is happening or being said at face value.
Questions/Problems: Sometimes things are confusing or seem contrary to what we previously thought. That is okay. Write them down here and seek out wise counsel. Ask someone wiser in scripture, or refer to a Bible commentary (like Dr. Constable’s Soniclight which is free online).
Cross References: Look for other texts or stories from the Bible that seem similar to what you are reading. This can help bolster findings, and help clarify ideas.
Application: What do we do with this? God’s word is meant to teach us about Himself and life. Now that we have broken down the passage and given it thought, let’s take it to action and implement it in our lives.
Grab a Bible, journal, and a pen so you can take this passage and see if we found something similar. This practice is a great way for you to allow God’s word to stir your heart and change you. Writing it down is a great way to look back and see what you’ve learned over time.
A Call to Love
Floodwaters are inconvenient. This qualifies as an understatement at best, and probably offensive to those who have lost homes recently in our area of Texas. Nonetheless, this has been my experience for the last 2 weeks.
Inconvenient is the operative word, because I have not lost property, or friends, and all of the issues it has caused me are of a very first-world nature.
See, Camp Eagle is accessed by a crusty road that enters and exits by way of low water crossings that bookend our property. When the floods came 2 weeks ago, safety was not of concern. Those who planned our property put homes and buildings high enough above the waterline that the river was not a threat. However, the layout of the road cuts off our physical access to the outside world. No one in or out until the water recedes.
The last 2 weeks, we have lived like soggy hermits in a cycle of rising and receding water. When the water recedes there is a window open for those with 4-wheel drive vehicles to make it into town and run their errands before hurrying back to beat any more rain that will raise the walls to camp yet again. This process has worked for many, but not all, and as such, has left part of our community with a bit of a food shortage.
‘just as I have loved you,’
But is a dangerous word for the Christian walk. I have yet to find a place where Christ’s commands come with caveats. He does use the word but, however, you will find it used to pile on responsibility rather than exonerate. Look no further than the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-48).
It is tempting to say “I would love to share the food I have with the community, but I don’t know when the roads will be fixed. How long will this food last for me and mine?”
If you had been here over the past week, then you wouldn’t be sure that thought even crossed people’s mind. On the contrary, you would think that some of the families out here were looking for an excuse to get rid of their food. Messages just kept going out to let the community know “I’ll be up making breakfast and coffee. Swing by in the morning and grab some.” All the while knowing that this invitation will likely bring a mess to their house and quiet morning. They’re saying “bring your muddy feet up to my house, put your pruney elbows on my table, and break bread with my family. Hopefully there’s enough for me after.” Looking at today’s passage, it is by these acts of love and care that I know I am surrounded by His disciples. These gestures bring clarity to the Lord’s call to love “‘just as I have loved you.’”
How did Christ love us? Eagerly. He didn’t see a leper and say “but he’s unclean.” He didn’t look at the adulteress and say “but it’s the law.” He didn’t look at the whole world’s sin on the cross, then get to you and say “but them.” Jesus sought you out with a love that was at once eager and sacrificial.
Bringing it back to the top, it is obvious that we are much better off than many people who surround us. We have seen fairly inconsequential property loss, and everyone is safe. Again, inconvenienced.
Now that the water has gone down, it is time for “love one another” to become “love your neighbor.” The destruction they have seen is seen and felt. I pray that God reveals to us the best way to respond in love with our neighbors. And when He reveals it, we would follow through “just as He has loved us.”