31 Oct Outside the Camp II: He Meets Us There
Jason Kim is a student at Duke University and a member of the Summit College Student Leader Team.
“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” – Hebrews 13:12-14
As Christians, we are called to be “Christ-followers” and “ambassadors of Christ.” This means that we go wherever he instructs us and follow wherever he leads. Frequently, following Jesus requires us to go far beyond our comfort zones, which often results in us bringing up uncomfortable conversations about uncomfortable things with people that are uncomfortable to be around. Loving, serving, and sharing the gospel with people who are apathetic to, opposed to, or even just confused by Christianity is not always a walk in the park. Therefore, for followers of Christ, going “outside the camp” is not just a catchy phrase; it’s a step of faith into the unknown, a burden of persecution that we carry, a Spirit-led risk that we take – all in the promise that Jesus will be waiting for us there.
The “camp” we are called to leave could mean many different things to different people. For some, it might mean financial security. For others, maybe it means success, close friendships, or a lifestyle of ease. To go outside of the camp is to leave those things behind to follow Christ. To look to Jesus, who left his home in heaven, lived as a foreigner on this earth, then suffered and died outside the city walls. This was not an arbitrary act of self-righteous heroism; it was a perfect example of service and love. So, in our quest to be like Christ, we too are called to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the people around us.
For me, going outside of the camp began by confessing my idols of academic success and the approval of people. God had blessed me with academic success all of my life, and rather than praise him, I praised myself. A good thing became a “God thing”, an idol in my life, and I found myself anxiously toiling to be the best, finding my identity in my academic prowess. And yet, I could never do “enough,” since there was always someone doing something greater, something more noteworthy, something better. And I wanted to be better! I wanted to do better than everyone else. Somewhere along the line, as this idol loomed larger and larger, the strength of the gospel became weak in my life. But this call to follow Jesus outside the camp challenged me to question the things I was putting my hope in, to look beyond fleeting, mortal treasures and set my eyes on the eternal riches found in Christ.
Although they feel like rather small steps, going outside of the camp in my life means taking a weekly Sabbath to not do or even think about my academic work for a day, simply spending that time resting in the Lord. It means being more intentional with non-Christian friends and spending more time in Christian community. It means not being so anxious and stressed about my academic performance! I’m also striving to live as an ambassador of Christ on my campus and in my city through opportunities such as starting an investigative Bible study for people curious about Christianity and Scripture, volunteering during ServeRDU, and seeking to share the gospel with my friends. And I can take these steps because of the promise that Jesus is there outside the camp as well, and by following him, I receive something far greater than fame, fortune, comfort, or success –Jesus himself.
By calling me outside the camp, God has slowly been changing my heart, and the hearts of those around me. It’s a slow, painful, process, and I am slow, stubborn, and extremely resistant to his grace. But by the love and patience of God, I see him working in and around me. And he continues to work! Despite my impatience and shortcomings, he continues to work, continues to sanctify, and continues to use me.