Wow! Sorry we haven’t updated in a couple of days, we’ve had such an amazing experience. On Wednesday, our theme for the day was THE COLONY, and we talked a lot about how sin has community consequence. A lot of times, we think of sin as something that only affects us, and not something that affects everyone around us. Anger, murder, lust, pride, gossip–they all have deep community consequences and affect our church body. We looked through Matthew 5:17-33, and saw that our personal sin doesn’t just hurt the one person we think it does, but everyone around them, and everyone around us. Chad Ragsdale, our morning encounter speaker for the week, left us with the thought, “God isn’t looking for you to be nice. He’s looking for you to be new.” And until we are willing to share the truth about who we are, what we struggle with, we are just faking it and hurting our church body.
Yesterday we focused on the issue of forgiveness, narrowing in on Matthew 5:38-47. We walked through the process of forgiveness, and how forgiveness is not a one-time thing, but something that sometimes takes a lifetime. Chad challenged us with this question, “Do you realize that the way you respond to people has eternal consequences? Are you willing to pay for your pride with someone else’s eternity?” He challenged us to start praying for the person that has hurt us and start the process of forgiveness.
During the daytime, we had extended recreation and had a really fun day at the beach. Even though the weather was a lot colder than last year, we figured out a new way to have fun and had a blast! In the evening session last night, we all walked in with white t-shirts and a red piece of paper on our back. On the inside of the red piece of paper, we all wrote down one of two things: something we needed to be forgiven for–by a person or by God, or something we needed to forgive. During the session, we heard from three different people with very different stories of forgiveness–one man who forgave his father for killing his family, another woman who forgave her father for abandoning her family, and a woman who forgave the woman that killed her husband in a car accident. After they shared, Jayson French challenged us to think through what was on our back. . . was there someone in the room we needed to ask to forgive us? Someone at home? Who do we need to start the process of forgiveness with? And what do we need to repent of before God? Students were asked to go to an adult leader and/or the person they need to ask for forgiveness, share their burden or ask forgiveness, and then have that person take the red paper off their back and throw it away for them. It was a powerful illustration of how starting the healing and forgiveness process is not only healing for the person we are angry with, but ourselves as well.