At the end of July twelve youth and leaders hopped into a 15 passenger van and a suburban anticipating a week of seeing God move in and through us; impacting a community that lives a life of poverty foreign to us. My very white, middle class, small-town youth group made its way to NE Minneapolis. God, in his faithfulness, did move in us and through us, and opened our eyes to some new things about ourselves.
I was nervous about this trip. I stressed about funds—could we raise enough money in time? Stressed about unity—would the two youth groups meeting for the first time on this trip get along? Stressed about the unknowns—what is this all going to look like? Stressed about our youth’s engagement—will my group enjoy themselves, will they jump in and participate? I was stressed about what God would do…and what he would ask me to do—God, will you show yourself this week, and will I be willing to join you in what you are doing in NE Minneapolis? But God revealed to me that all of these concerns funneled down to one point—ME. What will people think about me if this trip is a flop? I’m responsible for this trip and so if things don’t go just right, I’m the failure.
I was sitting upon a self-focused thrown, concerned about the praise of others, but this wasn’t my mission trip—it was God’s. It wasn’t for my glory, but for his. Even if I failed, God could not.
As we presented the gospel to children this week, we were challenged to help them see that sin is not just the bad things we do like lying and disobeying our parents—it’s the condition of each and every person’s heart—a condition that we are born with. It is making ourselves king of our lives instead of making Jesus our king. Its making this life about me. God challenged me in that this week. For a trip with the purpose of focusing my heart on God and others, I sure was spending a lot of time thinking about myself! How easily I could have missed out in truly ministering to people in my pursuit of fabricating the perfect mission trip product for our youth to consume.
I can’t help but think of Jesus inviting the little children into his presence. His disciples wanted to turn the children away. Maybe they were concerned that Jesus wouldn’t look “professional” enough—that he couldn’t take care of the really important things if a bunch of snot-nosed kids were clinging to him. But it wasn’t about the disciples, or the way Jesus looked to others. It was about who Jesus is. He is love, and he desired to show children the depth and beauty of his love. This was the purpose of our trip too—to show children the love of Jesus Christ. The trip was not about me, it was all about bringing children to the lap of Christ.
On your Facebook profile page there is a section where you can write a bit about yourself titled “about you.” One of my friends simply wrote, “It’s not.” This life is not about me. As Christian’s we are never to be a bright neon sign blinking “Look at me!” but rather a shining city on a hill illuminating the glory of Jesus Christ, it’s ruler.