This past week I had the wonderful pleasure of being with our Jr. High youth on their mission trip in Stephenville, Texas. We participated with an organization called ROTC, which stands for Reaching Others Through Christ. My sister and I run this organization, and so it is near and dear to my heart for many reasons, but even beyond that allegiance, I love all youth mission trips. I love them because on every single one I’ve attended, there is always a moment when God shows up in a mighty way. A moment when everyone is just tired enough and just comfortable enough and just vulnerable enough to say what they are afraid to most days.
For us, that day was Wednesday.
Wednesday at ROTC is a very emotional day for everyone. It’s the second workday. You’re tired from day one and you know that you are not going to finish until day three. Wednesday is the hardest workday.Wednesday is also the most intense night of worship at the entire camp. This is intentional.
One of the things we did on Wednesday during worship was to think of someone that we don’t like. Our nemesis. The theme for the week was “Superheroes” and the whole point of the week was that the love and power of God transforms us into superheroes for Jesus! So on Wednesday we asked the youth to think of enemies, nemeses, people that are mean to them, people that they hate, anyone that they would like to hurt.
The eighth chapter of John says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” The youth were asked to think of someone they don’t like, write that person’s name down on a piece of paper, put that paper into a Nerf dart and instead of shooting that dart at the villain silhouette standing in front of them, they were supposed to take the dart with them to remember that we are not called to judge, to hurt or to throw stones at each other. Rather, we are called to love.
This really made me think of the many responses I’ve seen recently to many news events in our country. From the marriage equality ruling of the Supreme Court, to the resolution to remove the confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol building, all the way down to the simple manner in which people speak to each other, both in person and on social media. Social media is often the worst, and people are vicious on all sides of all of these issues.
Thank God for the “unfollow” function on Facebook.
There are so many different viewpoints in our country, our denomination, our city, our church, and even within our own families. I found myself sitting at that prayer station for a while, picturing all of the people in my life who frustrate me. It was difficult for me because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I have those feelings. I didn’t want to admit that there are people I really don’t like.
This scripture is difficult for me, as I am sure it challenges you as well. We want to throw the stone, especially when we see someone arguing on Facebook, and we know that they are wrong. Or at least we are pretty sure that they are wrong.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen some idiotic Facebook post that makes me want to tear my hair out and eviscerate them in the comments section. But that is not what we’re called to do. That’s not our job.
My kindergarten teacher used to always tell us, “Don’t throw rocks.” I don’t know if we had a major problem with this, but I suppose most young children find rock throwing to be amusing. Apparently I did learn everything I needed to know in Kindergarten.
My friends; don’t throw rocks. It’s not our job and we only end up hurting people, which breeds more rock throwers. I do want to point out, however, that skipping stones is always the exception to this rule.
So let us skip stones, instead of throwing rocks. Let us throw love instead of hate.
Have a wonderful week my friends,