By Rebecca Parra
In August I had the exciting opportunity to be a camper at Summer Youth Celebration (SYC) in British Columbia. This year’s theme for the camp was “It’s not about me.” It didn’t seem so difficult to face at first, but as we dove deeper into what the Lord was trying to tell us we began to realize that this was no small statement.
We live in a world that is constantly consumed with selfishness and pride. Even the strongest Christian faces the continuous challenge of neglecting their own flesh and being filled with the Spirit instead. Every believer who faces the outside world daily is exposed to the attitude of “me first.” However, one specific age group is bombarded with this way of life every day: teenagers.
Youth today are facing a world that is always striving to convince them that they are the most important. To make it to the top, it’s every man for himself. Everyone is absorbing all the glory and credit they can, getting it from what they do, what they say, what they look like. This means that living by a faith that clearly states the opposite is no easy feat.
To examine how the Christian way of life goes against the world around us, we dove into scripture. Throughout the week, we looked at people who faced life with a different perspective: one that put God first. The Bible is full of stories of real people who struggled to understand God’s will, just like us; one was John the Baptist. The Word tells us about a time when John’s followers began to worry about the number of people being baptized by Jesus’ disciples instead of John. They protested and presented their concerns to John. His response was surely one they did not expect.
“He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30, NIV).
Before letting this response fully sink in, think of this: John was not changing how big God is. John was making himself smaller in response to God’s greatness.
After reflecting on this, many campers and leaders came to the conclusion that something wasn’t right in their spiritual walk (myself included!). There were things we needed to fix. And we were just getting started.
Paul the apostle liked analogies. He used many, as did Jesus. One of them was his comparison to life as a race. At SYC this year, we became aware of the fact that it is up to us to decide what kind of race we want to run. We can choose to run for ourselves, or run for something greater. If we belong to God, how should we run our race? Without purpose? Each camper had their own realizations. As for me, something I found I needed to change in my life was my view of church and youth events. I didn’t realize I wasn’t seeing them as I was supposed to. If we’re going to compare life to a race, then our church environment is like a pit stop. We refuel. We change our worn-out tires. We make repairs. All so that we can get into the raceagain—revitalized. But sometimes we get stuck in the pit stop. We relax and get comfortable, and without realizing it, we grow cold. Our adrenaline fades. Our church is the place to regain strength in the Spirit to face the world together, not remain in a pit stop while others run the race without us.
Every camper made adjustments like mine. And many committed their lives to something greater than themselves. Our last night together was one to remember; we had youth who declared God had called them to someday go to the mission field, while others decided to become the missionaries of their local community. The picture was beautiful: friends leaning on each other and comforting one another as tears flowed freely. Voices rose in worship to God who was lifted up as so much greater than ourselves.
I ask for prayer for this generation of missionaries, whether they’re local or planning on going overseas. Let us pray that they may finish the race, along with all of us. Our trials may be great, but the outcome is priceless.
To view a photo gallery of SYC, please visit our October 2018 Horizon.