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What do Summer Camp and Jail Have in Common?

What do Summer Camp and Jail Have in Common?

And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Acts 2:43

When I was a kid, I went to a Christian camp every summer where I lived, for one week, in an environment that was designed to promote faith. I remember feeling an authentic closeness to God at camp that I rarely felt at other times or places. I’d tell myself that I was going to maintain that relationship with God, but when I got home, life just went back to normal. I quickly fell back into my usual routines, which rarely included daily reading and prayer.

I see this now in jail and in treatment. Removed from drugs and the distractions of the world, guys come to bible study, eager for change. They connect with God, developing a real faith. In an environment that is radically different from their old life, they embrace the new life. They promise things will be different when they get out, but when they get out and go back to the same old surroundings, their old behaviors quickly return.

In today’s passage, we read of the early church. In the narrative, we’re told how they gathered together at the temple and in their homes, eating, learning, and praying – together. They radically altered their usual life routines to surround themselves with others who were committed to going in the same direction they wanted to go. In this environment, God moved radically in their lives. Miracles happened. They gave to the poor. Their numbers grew rapidly. Lives were profoundly changed.

The lesson of my childhood camp, jail, and treatment is similar to the lesson of the early church. If we want to follow Christ into the new life, we must actively seek out and surround ourselves with those who also want to move in that direction. If we’re trying to recover from addiction but we surround ourselves with those who are using drugs, we’ll soon relapse. If, however, we go to church, go to meetings, and surround ourselves with friends who also want to find faith and recovery, God will transform us, and we too, will find a new life.

If we’re struggling and desperate for change, we must be willing to do whatever it takes. If we truly want to be transformed, must surround ourselves with those who are as desperate as we are to find that new life.

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