We are full swing in the recruiting season for our summer camp program this summer, and there are so many things involved with coming to camp. Jobs, schedules, and travel plans all take up extra attention, and can be a major disruption. With this in mind, I thought I would share a few thoughts about the power of coming to camp, and why it could be the best decision you’ll ever make.
For the first of these thoughts, it occurred to me that Jesus did a lot of what we’re doing: inviting people into something different. When He began His ministry, Jesus met several normal, run-of-the-mill people on the road. He would say many things to these people, including the now famous “I will make you fishers of men” (Luke 5:10). That’s a great story, but it’s not one I can relate to. See, in that story, Peter is fishing alongside his brothers, working for their dad’s family business. My family never had a business, and I’ve never worked alongside my siblings. I’ve done plenty of honest work, but the majority of my work in the last decade has been at a desk. So later in Luke 5, Jesus meets up with Levi.
“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth.
‘follow me,’ Jesus said.
And Levi got up, left everything, and followed Him.”
To this point, Levi was most likely a rich exile. No one ever likes taxes, but tax collectors during this time and place had a particularly strong stigma of being corrupt. They were greedy liars: not someone to be associated with. Now outcast, I know that role well. I know what it’s like to be unrecognized. I know what it’s like to be on the fringes of the room, trying to shrink into the nearest corner. For the exile, the idea is that inevitably someone will turn to you and say, “why are you here? We both know you don’t belong.” And so to have someone turn to you, and not just any someone, but a Rabbi, and have them say “follow me”—that would be overwhelming for an exile.
Levi was rich though, let’s not forget that. In an age where most people ate what they earned that day, Levi lived comfortably because of the same job that made him a social outcast. He made a comfortable living, and had a lot of everything to leave. When Jesus said “follow me,” I’m sure Levi thought of his wealth. He probably thought of his comfortable sleeping pad, and how life on the road would mean a life sleeping on the ground. He probably thought of his house with its walls, door and roof, offering him safety and privacy. He probably thought of the good food he enjoyed daily, and might have considered the lack of food for a traveling teacher and his disciples. All those thoughts must have been quick, because scripture does not say “And then Levi thought about, prayed about it, and checked his schedule for a future sit-down where he and Jesus could make a final decision.” It just says, “Levi got up, left e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and followed Jesus.”
And that’s what we’re asking people to do: follow Jesus with us this summer. Give up everything. A tough sell indeed, and with many reasonable objections.
But my question is: do you think Levi regretted his decision? What is Jesus calling you to do today? Is it camp? Is it a new career direction? Is it forgiveness? Whatever it is, may you have the courage to leave everything and follow Him.