This week at WNW was the 2nd part of "The Big Picture" after-camp series. We began the night by breaking up into 3 groups. Each group was given a few minutes to decide how they would describe a specific American holiday to someone from another country who has no knowledge of the holiday. Each group took 2-3 minutes to describe the holiday while I asked questions to throw them off acting like I knew nothing about what they were talking about. Afterward I shared that sometimes we know about something as basic as an American holiday, yet we have trouble explaining. We tend to overlook information in life that is basic. Sometimes we also do the same in our Christian faith.
I introduced a little background on the book of 1 John about how John was addressing some false teachings and shortcomings in the church. We began with 1 John 3:11 where he is reminding them to love one another. We discussed why it is that we overlook this basic commandment as Christians. We split up into our original groups and made a "Top 10" list of why it is sometimes hard to love people. We got a lot of good responses such as: because they hurt you, they are annoying, they are mean to you, etc. I noticed that each of their responses had to with a way that the person has treated them. I brought up the point that we often have trouble loving people who have not done anything against us though.
We then read 1 John 3:12 and talked about the story of Cain and Abel. Both brothers presented an offering to God, but Cain withheld while Abel gave his best offering. This displeased God and Cain became jealous from the comparison. He allowed jealousy turn to hatred, and hatred led him to murder his brother. We discussed how frustrating it can be when you are compared to someone else, especially a sibling. However if we are not careful we can allow that frustration to lead to hatred, which is what John addresses next in 1 John 3:13-15. First of all these verses tell us to not be surprised if the world hates us. Not the most comforting verse but one that is definitely real. Then John goes on to say that if we have hatred for others, then it is the same as murder. Pretty harsh statement but one that we must take to heart. However, when we have been saved and are a new creation in Jesus Christ, our life should not reflect hatred but of love.
I then took a bottle of water and poured a grape flavor packet in it. The water became purple. I asked the students that if they had not seen me pour the mix in, how would they know that it is something other than water? They answered by the color, smell, and taste. I shared that when we have been changed by Jesus, our lives should look differently just as we had discussed the previous week. That change is that our lives reflect the love of Jesus. We closed with 1 John 3:16-18 and a challenge that the love of Jesus is what the world is looking for, even when they do not realize it. People are looking for love and acceptance and it is our job as Christians to point them to that same love of Jesus that we have encountered.