Not My Circus! (ATP)
My understanding is that the term camp, is a group of ministries that are connected by a doctrinal foundation that is the same, or at best very similar. However the manner, method or flow of each ministry or the various parts of one ministry seems quite often to create separation in that connection. Is there truth to this? If so could it be a difference in leading on same doctrine or motivational error? I hope this question makes sense.
1 Corinthians 12:18 (NKJV)
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
2 Timothy 4:3 (NKJV)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
This question makes sense to me! Really, the concept of camp is simply about being called together to similar things or direction and/or having similar beliefs. It’s kind of like if you go to a campground. Everyone there is so for a similar reason, but you have different households, cooking different meals. You may even get together occasionally, but each one still has their own camper.
There is so much good about coming together. For one thing, we can really learn a lot. We may see something from one angle but when you’re at someone else’s camper, you may get a little different view, making something more clear to you. Sometimes that different view helps correct something you just couldn’t see before. As I have traveled to different ministry meetings, I have always come into contact with different view points. I try to stay open to these differences. However, sometimes I see error or error becomes more exposed. This helps me as I seek to understand God’s word more clearly.
There can also be safety in numbers. A campground is much safer than say a solo camping trip in the middle of nowhere. You get the outdoors, you get the campfire, you get the s’mores, but you also get some security. If the wolf (or bear) knocks on your door, you can run to another. When you’re alone, you become dinner. Of course I’m speaking metaphorically, but I think the symbolism is clear enough. The devil being the wolf, and the campground being various congregations.
I want to draw your attention back to the two scriptures I started with. These are two things the Lord gave almost immediately upon reading this question that I believe give us the understanding we need here. These two things are areas that cause a lot of Christians to struggle because the don’t submit to their direction. One, God places us where He sees fit, meaning He knows where we should be best. This area many Christians struggle with. They come in however they did, some even for a time. Then, their camper isn’t exciting enough or they start looking too much at someone else’s. Or they just sit and complain about theirs! If you’ve sat in many of my services you will hear me often say, “I didn’t make you come here!” Or, “You must know in yourself where God put you, then be planted there!” These are important truths many fail to heed.
The second scripture deals with itching ears. What is that? It’s people who want you to tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. They will go or move about based on their desires not God’s leading. I like the conversation better two campers down so I’m going to listen there, not mine. They don’t get the instruction or won’t receive the instruction that really pertained to them and so they get confused. Or, they listen so much to different instruction that they get confused. Either way, they get confused which makes them unstable.
My job really isn’t to keep tabs on what others do or don’t do. My job is to know and embrace what I am called to do. When I look at other camps, I often see things I don’t agree with. If I crusade against that, then that becomes my work instead of the work I am called to. For a little teaching, no Godly ministry is called to tear others apart! Sometimes I look in my own camp and see things I don’t like but lack the authority or ability to change. In these times, again I can’t focus on that but trust God and seek Him.
Ultimately, though we are all placed in a camp, we are called to follow God. Sometimes following Him means nothing more than to keep my eyes on Him and nowhere else. It is a spirit of the world that says, I have to make everyone else do right. God’s Spirit says follow Him and He will keep you safe. People are interesting and so are our camps, but if we keep our focus on God, He will bring it all together. I don’t know how, but that’s not my job!