This summer has been full of new and exciting experiences. So far I've, swam in a mountain lake once a week, hiked a mountain, swallowed two live earth worms, relearned how to do a flip off the diving board, got a Mohawk (another post for another time), seen a tarantula, learned how to line dance, and chopped wild bamboo from someone's yard. These are all fun experiences that make great stories, but the real rewards come in the relationships made. the special moments are in praying with youth after something has just clicked in them and they have seen God, those still, soft moments when God points out something in my own life that I need to work on, and in those moments when I share conversations with others in which God speaks to my heart. As I go into my sixth week of participants coming to our site here in Booneville Arkansas, I want to write about an adult leader from our very first week who blessed my life. Every week we have amazing people here. Every week I get to see God in others, but I am a simple man with a simple mind...it doesn't take me long to forget names even of the beautiful people I've met this summer. Sam is an exception. I have loved all of the people who have come through Booneville this summer, and I pray that God will work in each of their lives. With close to 60-70 participants each week, there are bound to be some who "don't get it". I can say this, because I know at times, I was one of them (and often, I still am). Those people that view their trip as a vacation rather then an experience preparing them to better live as Christians through seeing practical ways to live out our faith through loving service, and taking that home with them. Sam was different. Sam was an adult leader who jumped at the opportunity to share the hope that he has found in Christ. We were painting bathrooms in a park, Sam walked up to complete strangers and shared his faith with them. He challenged the youth to do the same. He lived the example. I don't believe these were nothces on a spiritual belt, but rather an obedient heart to God's prompting. Sam and I had a bond, we both love a preacher named Paul Washer. Paul's sermons have challenged both Sam and I to look at our faith in very new ways. Paul speaks on what it means to be a Christian, and how we can know we are saved. Many North American Christians base their faith in their salvation on a prayer they have prayed one time, rather then the fruit that is evident in their lives. I know that I too have fallen to this fault. Paul says that we cheapen our salvation to make it look like a flu shot...pray a prayer once, and we are set; like an eternal vaccine. But I don't think this meshes well with scripture. It doesn't matter if we know Christ, what matters is that he knows us. Matthew 7:21-23 says,
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
The key is that we live a life that is submisive to the will of the Father. We are not saved by our good works, rather the way we live is evidence of the relationship we have with Christ. Paul uses this analogy. If he walked up to me and said that he just got hit by a cement truck, but he didn't have a scratch on his body, I would have to assume that he is either insane or lying. So then how is it that someone can say they have met God (who is much larger and a much harder hit then a cement truck), yet walk this life with no evidence of his presence in thier life? Perhaps they are mistaken. I believe a sad truth that we must abolish in our country is that their are many who believe they know Christ, and that Christ know's them, yet their hearts are far from him and they are lost.
Sam got it. He knows the purpose of his service, he knows who he serves, and he knows the hope he has...and he shares it with anyone who has ears to listen. This is evident because he lives it.
I pray that my heart will be in tune with Gods, that I will remember why I am here this summer, that I will surrender myself to the Father, that I will live a life of obedience and repentence. The condition of ones heart is what shows one to be a Christian, not simply a prayer said once upon a time.