By Joy Willis
Do you remember being in middle school? Think back for a moment. Maybe it wasn’t called middle school when you were in 7th or 8th grade, but you can still remember what it felt like. The greatest desire for most teens that age is to fit in. I remember wanting jelly shoes, a “swatch” watch and for my teased bangs to stand up as high as possible. I know that dates me, but some of you can relate. In life, but especially in middle school, and even high school, we just want to fit in.
I had the privilege to spend a week in July with our middle and high school students at Student Life Beach Camp in Daytona Beach. The theme for the camp, “Set Apart,” was unpacked all week through music, messages and drama. So for a week, our middle and high school students were told that instead of fitting in, as Christians, we are to be different, even to stand out from those around us. That’s a tough message for anyone and especially teenagers.
The theme verse, was 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT): “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
How appropriate that the theme verse would be from 1 Peter, the same book we have been unpacking on Sunday mornings at Lakewood. It seems to be a summer theme, more than just a camp theme. We are to be different. Set apart. Royal priests. A holy nation. God’s very own possession.
God did not save us not to blend in with the world, but to shine brightly in the darkness. When others show hostility we can show kindness. We are to respond to hate with love and to suffering with compassion. When others are living for the moment, we choose live in light of eternity. All of this would be impossible without Christ living in us, but with Him we can live a set apart life.
I was so encouraged to be with our students and see many of them seeking to live lives that are set apart. Over the course of the week, our students were challenged with this message about living a “set apart” lifestyle. Two of our teenagers put their trust in Christ and many others grew in their faith through this time. Our group also grew in depth with one another and there is a stronger sense of community among the teenagers who were part of this experience.
Please pray for our students as they prepare to go back to school. Pray that they will take what God showed them at camp and from 1 Peter and that they will shine brightly for Christ at their schools – even when it means being different and not fitting in. May we all live lives that are set apart and worthy of the our Savior who called us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light!