While at Christ Church of Oak Brook, Sally Jo and I started a family camp. Our group consisted of families with children plus a retired couple, Maury and Fran Hull. There was a core of about 10 families who came each summer. We arrived at Honey Rock Camp when their summer program was over, the camp staff and college professors had left. Essential food service and maintenance people stayed on. Honey Rock, an educational facility of Wheaton College, has camper cabins, rental cabins, and cabins used by the faculty members. This facility was made available to us as both Sally Jo and I knew the camp leadership and facility well.
Two or three high school or college students went with us each summer. The also knew Honey Rock, and they knew some of the families from church. During the day they helped with camp activities, and each evening they would be the children’s sitters so the adults could study a book together.
As plans were made for the third year, we asked for suggestions for the book to study. Many had either read or heard about The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, a popular book in some Christian circles at the time. The content of the book extensively explained how, from the author’s perspective, the Biblical prophecies were in place indicating that Christ’s return was imminent. We could not imagine spending a week studying the book, and suggested a couple other books – but no, most wanted to discuss The Late Great Planet Earth. We ordered copies for the adults, knowing this crew would read the book before they arrived at camp.
Sally Jo and I had read the book and were ready to lead the discussion. First question: “What is the theme of this book?” All agreed – the theme was that Jesus Christ was going to return, probably very soon. The second question: “What does this suggest about how we should be living our lives?” All agreed – we should live our lives in such a way that we are ready when Christ returns. Third question: “Is there anything else the author is seeking to tell us?” After some discussion, there was consensus that this was the only message of the book. Fourth question: “How will further discussion of the book affect the living of our lives?” In about a half hour our consideration of the book’s content was over.
Sally Jo and I had anticipated this short discussion of the book and had brought with us copies of The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer, a small paperback focused on the implications of John 13:35:
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.
In the previous verse Jesus gave this command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Jesus Christ is not just our Savior, but our role model.
Loving each other is easy in theory, difficult in practice, particularly when the people involved know each other. These families knew each other in the context of family camp, in the context of the church, and in the context of their communities.
Discussing when Jesus Christ is going to return is non-threatening. Talking about how Jesus Christ demonstrated His love historically, and to us…and seeking to integrate these truths into our daily living – This is tough!
Yet this is how we are called to live when we live In Partnership With God.