by Natasha Sua
Presenter at Junior camp 2020
Jesus went against the grain, proving this time and time again in His ministry on earth and ultimately when He died for us. It was a supernatural sacrifice for someone so far above us in every way, to do what He did… It was an act of love that He would go against the grain for us mere humans, as Romans 5 reminds us. God demonstrated His own love toward us while we were still sinners, through Christ’s death.
With this in mind, consider friendships; compare the world view of friendship with God’s view, using the Biblical example of David and Jonathon, where true friendship will put the other person’s needs ahead of their own, and the proverb A friend sticks closer than a brother.
Now recall times where you have tried to ‘do it’ alone, and times where you had support from your close friends. When Jesus was alone, that was when temptation struck hard. We are even more vulnerable when we are isolated, than He was. And He chose to complete His ministry with close friends. He could have done it alone, but by choosing a community to share His journey with, He modelled his love and value of true friendship, and God’s desire for us to be a community to each other, relying on, helping and building up each other.
The story of the Prodigal Son emphasises God’s love for us. Through the Ten Commandments He reveals that love; how to live a life of love with Him, and with each other. Jesus emphasised this when He spoke of the two great commandments. We are often deceived into thinking that true freedom comes from being able to do whatever we want. But true freedom comes when we are fulfilling the purpose of our design, living the way God planned for us, as demonstrated by Christ’s life.
One of the hardest days of Jesus’ life was the day He received the news of His cousin John’s execution. If you study that day closely, His humanity shines through. But so does the image of God. We too, reflect the image of our Father. But mirrors can distort. What does reflecting God look like in our lives, in our choices and the decisions we make? On good days, and on the bad? How can we go against the grain of what we feel like doing in trying circumstances, to reflect our Lord better?
Jesus, as a carpenter, understood grain, that working with it keeps the strength and integrity of the timber. But with Peter, He chose to go against the grain because He knew the potential Peter had. He knew Peter would deny Him. He made the hard choice and told him he would do so… because He knew that exposing Peter’s flaw would produce a stronger more powerful Peter. And He looks at you and me and sees the potential in our ‘wood’. He sees our faults (and knowing them, He died for us anyway). And He will go against the grain, to produce His masterpiece of love.
To conclude the week, Natasha Sua wanted the campers to focus on actioning what she had been talking to them about. How do you be a follower of Jesus, and go against the grain when needed? Through reading His word for instruction, talking to Him in prayer and fellowshipping in community. They spent time in groups, having a Bible study, using a bookmark aid outlining the Discovery Bible Study method, and the ACTS prayer guide.
The campers returned home challenged to make this a daily practice. It is our prayer that you encourage these young people in your church and home to continue in this, and that you pick up the challenge too, and go against the grain, as Jesus did.