Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore. Hebrews 13:13
Here is just a part of the disgrace Jesus bore outside the camp:
He was crucified as a common criminal.
He was mocked, flogged and spit upon by the Roman soldiers.
He had no place to be buried until His body was claimed
The soldiers cast lots for His only possession: his robe.
He was ridiculed by the people.
He was powerless in His death.
He carried His own cross through the city before a jeering crowd. “Save yourself, Jesus! Where are your angels now, Jesus?”
(This part you couldn’t see except that it killed Him:) He became sin.
He was forsaken by His friends and followers.
He was forsaken by His Father.
He had all the look of a total loser.
If we join Him out there, what part of this do we bear with Him? Just about all of it except for being forsaken by our Father. Thank God that’s not going to happen to us. But everything else we will experience, or at least understand.
Okay, everyone, pay attention here, because I don’t think you are getting this. I’m shaking the tree, but I’m not hearing back from anyone. Is this old news to you? Am I the late-comer? This message the last few days is earthshaking. It should shake the tree to its roots so that all the fake fruit falls to the ground, and perhaps then, stripped naked, we can begin to share in the disgrace of Christ. Have I gone off the rails here? I think the whole Christian enterprise in this country went off the rails years ago.
Christians — and I apologize to our global audience for this next assessment because I can only speak for America here — Christians in this country are way too good, way too righteous, way too “right” (as opposed to “wrong”), way too comfortable, way too successful, way too powerful, way too influential, way too wealthy, way too dominant to share in the disgrace of Jesus. I don’t know where we went, but we didn’t go outside the camp. There’s no sense of disgrace in the Christianity that’s being marketed in the world right now; there is money, influence, political power, success, retribution, revenge, and on it goes.
What happens when you meet Christ outside the camp? You come face to face with your own ugly sin, pious self-righteousness, hypocrisy, bigotry, weakness, selfishness, narcissism, dysfunction, and what have you. And this is never a one-time thing. We carry this disgrace with us because we still live in a body of death. And we carry it because it reminds us of our only hope. And this is the most important part: embracing our disgrace only qualifies us for His grace, and so disgrace requires grace, and ultimately grace turned outward, as we can’t wait to give it away.
You are definitely not off the rails on this!! I have known and been the Christian who was way too right and a few other things you mentioned. Part of it was following the wrong people and part of it was just pure ignorance. I know I still have a long way to go because I’ll always be a work in progress but the fact that I can seen changes from 2, 5, 10 years ago means I’m on my way. I’m definitely not perfect and sometimes I’ve hesitated being outside the camp because I didn’t want to be different. We’re doing a series called Chosen at our church and it’s really opened my eyes to so much! We’ve been called out, chosen by God, for bigger things and to maybe have to sit and wait for a while. I haven’t always been the most patient person but God is teaching me so much!!! Being out with Christ can change your life and that’s my prayer for me, my family and everyone!!
Well, if you’re out, you’ll be different from those who are in, but you’ll be in community with those grace-=oriented folks who are out. Thanks for your thoughts.
Christ mad the ultimate sacrifice and I feel blessed each day for that and how he was crucified in the end and then arose he could never be thought of as a loser showing so much courage during all that torture and we have eternal life because of all that and well thank God each day for his son and we should always go out with him because if we don’t than it is really a huge loss for each of us.
Yea, Toni. Bless you for your faithfulness.
I say this is gut wrenching. The photo alone so profoundly painful yet beautiful-and the reminder along with the challenge for each of us to stop in our tracks to ask: what does that mean and what must I do and where must I go to meet Jesus “outside the camp”? And how do I define “my camp”
at this time? (our camps do change over the years)
Reading this shook my soul to its roots and actually led me to do some journaling which I hope and pray will continue. I hear the song: “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord…and he will lift you up…higher and higher and he will lift you up.” Amen.
Well, Gail, as a high schooler, all of us guys at Lake Ave loved you and your sisters for all the obvious reasons. Now my love for you deepens as I hear your soul reach out for the truth and grasp the essence of what should be shaking all of us right now. Thank you for staying true to the Lord all these years, and for making. yourself vulnerable to the truth. And thank you for letting me know. I was beginning to wonder if anyone heard me.
I think I am feeling what the crowd thought on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the gospel. It said it cut them to the heart. WOW! This has moved me to tears!! I will be sometime processing this. Again I say WOW!!
Again, thank you, Nick for your heartfelt response.
Looking at the above comments, it seems you made your point. I appreciate that you already apologized to the global audience but just so we’re clear, not all Christians in the USA are wealthy, powerful and successful. Those who are poor, weak and unsuccessful (the ones Jesus came to save) don’t need to go outside the camp because they are already there. At least they are in the minds of those who have put themselves in a bubble where nothing godly exists outside of it. One day God is going to pop that bubble and open their eyes to see just how godly people outside their camp really have been compared to them. Then they too will travel outside to repent and be saved.
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.” – Luke 6:20
I’m from Canada & personally can’t believe how Christians are behaving here. It must make God weep–infighting amongst the church because of Covid restrictions, vaccinations–there is no outward grace right now when some people need it the most!! God is our only refuge
Thank you, Liz for adding a perspective from up north.
One aspect that may be missing in this weeks teachings (which you may have planned to address later) is the fact that all of those sacrificed – whether animals, Jesus, or many of His followers through the millennia – were “led” (or carted) out of the camps and Jerusalem to their final earthly destination.
While it’s noble-sounding to exhort believers to go out, detach ourselves from society’s facades of safety and comfort, embrace our awaiting Savior, and heed His command to go forth and make disciples of all nations, etc…. the fact is that it is nearly impossible for any of us to do it on our own – and many of us will opt to let things remain as they currently are despite feeling somewhat moved or motivated (hoping that that feeling will go away) and knowing better even so.
Yet, somehow, most of us are still involved in the sacrificial process and, so, we do leave the camp in one way or another.
I count seven types of participants:
Those leading – the priests, soldiers, executioners, etc.
Those led – the clean and unclean animals, Jesus, Stephen, innumerable saints, etc.
Those following the crowd – the timid, the curious, the pickpockets, etc.
Those observing from the sidelines – bystanders, visitors, entertainment-seekers, etc.
The servants and slaves – those compelled to attend to meet certain needs, etc.
The oblivious – those who are unaware, uninformed, ignorant, distracted, etc.
God, the Holy Spirit.
Where do we see ourselves on that list?
We all have the freedom to leave the camp but in what capacity are we venturing out? And, is “venturing out” even adequate enough?
I say no. I believe we must be led.
What hobbles American believers (and probably Christians worldwide) is a warped definition of independence. We’re encouraged to be proud and self-reliant, to be rugged individuals defiant to all forms of perceived tyranny, to do things as Frank Sinatra sang, “My Way”. Humility and asking for help is for wimps by golly!
We’ve been inflated with false pride, fake independence, overblown self-confidence, hyper-paranoia, and myriad other facts and falsehoods that stymie our individual and collective progress and maturity.
And the way America’s political, spiritual, and corporate leaders have been behaving over the last several decades, we certainly don’t want to be led!
But that’s also our undoing.
I guess a case for recognizing our spiritual maturity might be this:
Are we willing to be led?
Are we willing to be led outside the confines of our familiar camp?
By whom or by Whom?
In context with the Catch teachings so far, I daresay none of us on our own can, in earnest, leave the camp and remain with Jesus and the others outside the camp if we’re not led by the Holy Spirit. What does that leading look like?
It may not be pretty but with prayer and His guidance it will be necessary.
Otherwise, we’re just one of the five-out-of-seven participants in the sacrificial process above.
One last thought:
If you do find yourself leaving the camp, ask yourself the same question Jesus asked the curious folks who went out to watch John the Baptist:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see?”
Why are you even thinking of going out? Follow through…
Be a blessing. Be blessed.
Be of good will. Be cheerful.
Be courageous. Be encouraged.
Be Holy because He is Holy.
Shalom, Peace my friends…
Great, Bob. Much food for thought here. Yes, we want to always be led by the Holy Spirit.
Yes, it would be unwise and impractical to attempt on our own.
But who does one trust to lead the way?
Jesus was led outside the camp by the soldiers, priests, politicians, lawyers, and scoffers – not the most incorruptible of persons and not too discernably different from todays officials, clergy, pundits, and societal influencers.
But, nonetheless, Jesus willingly trod the path leading away from the city.
And, now, the Holy Spirit lights up that path for us to follow.
So, which direction will we go?
Or do we stay with the safety-in-numbers crowd, the mocking mob?
Those are really our only choices.
To paraphrase Dylan: You gotta trust somebody.
Who better to trust and let lead than the Holy Spirit?
Choosing no decision is a decision already chosen.
And that does not usually end well.
Today, if you would hear His voice…
AMEN, AMEN & AMEN
It’s not news to me. And you’re not off the rails. The only thing that I’m surprised by is that you seem to be saying you’re just now seeing this.
I don’t know exactly when, but Bill Gaither is quoted as saying, “The Church at its worst is still better than the world at its best!” Would that were true, but I don’t believe it to be so. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (1 Corinthians 3:3), and “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud!” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2); so, this is nothing new that the church can ignore it’s sin. And it isn’t like the church has improved over time either. The French Catholic Church has just confessed to it being an issue that had been permitted to go on for generations. Indeed, if one looks at the rate of pedophilia among institutions in France, the least safe institution in the entire country was the Catholic Church. How can this be? And it is great that the Church there has owned up to it. But it shows how this isn’t news.
Now, I know that your main point wasn’t that the Church is sinful, but it is my point. The Church indeed is sinful, and sinful institutions, just like sinful people, don’t behave like they are supposed to. We fall short of the glory of God corporately just as much as we do individually. So, I don’t find what you write about to be news or surprising at all. To me, what is surprising, is just how much God can use this fallen institution to accomplish his will despite our shortcomings. I’m surprised, pleasantly so, by congregations of believers (sometimes organized as churches, often just groups of individual believers that have coalesced together) who are moved to accomplish something on behalf of the kingdom without regard to any loss/benefit analysis to themselves. And, I’m glad to report that I see this in the Church much more often than I see it failing. I can guess this is only so because of the influence of the Spirit on the lives of those who make up the Body of Christ. And, because that Spirit actually does lead us, He calls us not to reside in the sanctuary, but to move out into the world to make Christ known there. We will do so imperfectly, but we will do so.
Excellent, Gene, and well-written!
Thank you for sharing this perspective.