Jesus Camp, Children, and Love

The Aspen Times News has a review for the Jesus Camp documentary (trailer). It is said that commentary is kept to a minimum in this film, but that the footage itself more than speaks for itself. And what does it say?

“The lesson is intolerance,” the reviewer says.

Jesus Camp documents the goings on of a Christian summer camp, which encourages children to grow spiritually and to be active within the church.

Such a concept for a movie ought to make for a great Christian film. Such a concept ought to be joyful.

Whereas Jesus and the apostles admonished to go the extra mile for people, to reach out to the down and out, to support the destitute, and to outright love your neighbors — James called all of this “pure religion”! — you won’t find such a message at this Christian camp.

Rather, the film highlights the hallmarks of much of modern Christianity: anti-abortion, anti-Islam, anti-liberal, and so on. How is it the message of Christianity has become so unbelievably negative?

Don’t get me wrong: sin is still sin, and it must be preached against. But as I read my New Testament, I notice far more preaching against corruption within God’s people (the Jews, the Church) than preaching against that which was without.

I think that is significant. Remember that the church is Jesus’ body. We who are saved are united to Christ in an immutable and beautiful way. Problems within His body must and will be worked out!

And to those who are without? Love them. Do good to them. And if they smite you, turn your other cheek. If they want your jacket, give them your shirt also. If they hate you, bless them. If they… well, you get the idea!

Whatever happened to that message? Why is it so much easier to preach that the unbelievers or those who commit our pet peeve sins are an enemy worth denouncing from the pulpit in the name of “worship”?

And yet the kids at this summer camp are being told that they are a vital generation for taking back America for Christ. Wait, for Christ? Would they even recognize the love-soaked teachings of Jesus’ most famous sermons? More importantly, would they put them into practice if a lesbian who had just had an abortion was spotted destitute on a bench somewhere? If an impoverished Muslim were found, would a Good Samaritan attitude be engendered or would a “preach and run” method be employed, thereby offending the Muslim and leaving him lost and destitute?

One of the three kids focused on in this film is Levi. The reviewer mentions something Levy said: “Whenever I’m around someone who isn’t a Christian, it makes me feel kind of icky.” So whereas Jesus hung out with the sinners, ate with them, befriended them, loved them, Levi — who aspires to be a pastor — feels icky while in their company.

As the reviewer aptly stated… “Wouldn’t Christ be proud.”

How far removed from the teachings of Christ must the church be before it ceases to be Christian? And how much can one focus on doctrinal and personal purity before one becomes no more than an unloving “So glad I’m not a sinner like those guys!” Pharisee. Believe it or not, it is enough to be sorrowful over your own sins. It is enough to make your own calling and election sure. The sins of others need not be made much of. Believe me, to “go and sin no more” is vital, but such will not come from unloving injustice toward others.

Make much of Christ, and the sin problem will take care of itself. He and He alone is able to sanctify people from the inside out. And He’s able to do it in absolute tender love.

I’m going to publish the Sermon on the Mount here, simply because they are the words of Christ, they are faithful and true, and they are worthy to be read again (and again). And bear in mind this warning to believers: Whoever ignores even the least of Christ’s commands and teaches others to do the same shall be the least in Heaven.

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
  • Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
  • You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
  • Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peckmeasure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.
  • Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
  • Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
  • For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.
  • Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
  • For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’
  • But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
  • If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brothe rhas something against you,
  • leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
  • Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
  • Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent.
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;
  • but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
  • And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
  • And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.
  • And it was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;
  • but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
  • Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
  • But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
  • or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
  • Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
  • But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
  • But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
  • And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
  • And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.
  • Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’
  • But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
  • in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
  • For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
  • And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
  • Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
  • Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
  • When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
  • But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing
  • that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
  • And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
  • But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
  • And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
  • Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.
  • Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
  • ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
  • ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
  • ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
  • ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’
  • For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
  • But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
  • And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
  • But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face
  • so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
  • Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rest destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
  • But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
  • for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
  • The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
  • But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
  • No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise th other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
  • For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?
  • Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?
  • And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?
  • And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
  • yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.
  • But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?
  • Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’
  • For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
  • But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
  • Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Do not judge lest you be judged.
  • For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
  • And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
  • Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, teh log is in your own eye?
  • You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
  • Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
  • Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
  • For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
  • Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?
  • Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
  • If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
  • Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
  • Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.
  • For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
  • Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
  • You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?
  • Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
  • Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • So then, you will know them by their fruits.
  • Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
  • Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast our demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
  • And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
  • Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.
  • And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.
  • And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.
  • And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.

Jesus, Matthew 5:3-7:27, NASB

Amen, Lord. It is very good to be reminded of those our Lord’s words. Make your life reflect those words, do the will of the Father in Heaven, and let us all make much of Jesus!

If everyone who says to Christ, “Lord, Lord,” would live according to His sermon, this world would be drastically different. We would not have to worry about politics and other such worldly agendas. But when salt looses its saltiness and can no longer perform its function, it is no surprise that it must seek alternative means to express itself, no matter how fleeting such endeavors may be.

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