This week's Hopetown Highlight is brought to you by, Connor Brown, one of Hopetown Intern's.
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:1-2, MSG
Our third camp of the summer, half a week devoted solely to high school boys, began with this verse, a charge not to become absorbed with the humdrum of daily life, with the rigors of school and activities, but to focus instead on the man God intended you to be.
As a high school boy it is far easier to survive difficulties of teenage interaction by finding a base descriptor to identify yourself as: “I’m a trackstar”, “I’m a fisherman”, “I’m a musician." It is far more difficult to take your identity in something with any sort of depth or honesty. It is perhaps even more difficult than this to raise these questions of depth and identity to your friend group. It is, after all, far easier to gossip about who’s going out with who than to voice your fear that you don’t know what you want to do with your life, or even something so simple as telling your friends about the struggles you’re going through on a daily basis.
On the first night of camp, a makeshift home theater was rigged up and the boys watched the 2002 modern classic, Catch Me If You Can. In the film, a young Leonardo Dicaprio begins running from the struggle of choosing between which of his divorced parents to live with and so he continues throughout the film running from each new problem, forging himself a new identity any time a new problem arises; pilot, lawyer, doctor. Eventually, he is finally confronted by the the FBI agent tasked with pursuing him (the amazing Tom Hanks) who tells him that it’s easier to live a lie than to be honest. That ultimately all Dicaprio is running from is his pain, and his true self.
Catch Me If You Can opened the door on one of the most important teaching points of our week: vulnerability. In 2016, as a high school guy, being vulnerable is generally considered uncool, yet it is still a necessary part of any deep relationship or growth.
Some of the biggest questions raised this week were “How do I keep being vulnerable outside of Hopetown?”, “How do I get a relationship with my friends that has depth?” and “How can I continue to have a relationship with God based on that honesty and trust?”
The answer lies somewhere in trust and faith with understanding thrown in the mix, as well. We have all been vulnerable before, but somehow, it is so much harder to be understanding than to be judgemental. Being vulnerable requires trust and faith in your friends that they will choose their love for you over condemnation, as well as trust and faith in a God who has forgiven all. Vulnerability lies in choosing to believe that people are for you and care about you rather than erring on the side of fear and believing that people will reject you. Being vulnerable is a victory over fear. In a sense, being vulnerable is one of the bravest acts you can perform.
The final instruction the boys received, from Melissa, was once more found in Colossians 3.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the word of Christ - the Message - have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives - words, actions, whatever - be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Colossians 3:15-17, MSG
We are called not simply to be strong and upright, but to be vulnerable as well, to not fear being honest about where we are, whether it’s absorbed with the things right in front of us or looking up and being alert to what is happening around in Christ. We are called to be in step together and to let our actions serve as his actions. He frees us to be vulnerable. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, after all. And it is His love that gives us our true security and identity.