Me and We
Like a pack of huskies connected to the bridle of a sled, a group of men, women and children pulled a rope that lifted a harness-and-hard-hat-wearing June and me high into the air. On the count of three, we pulled a string and just like that we were flying through the trees out over the shoreline and back. June squealed with delight as we swung back and forth.
Family camp for the Marksons has been an opportunity for our family to make memories through shared experiences, surrounded by God’s beautiful creation at Covenant Pines Bible Camp. This year was no different. In addition to the big swing, we enjoyed kayak and paddle board rides; played capture the duck; painted, tie-dyed, and made bracelets at the craft hall; and sped down the playground ziplines more times than I can count.
Each morning and evening, we gathered with other families in the chapel to sing and dance and reflect on the theme verse for the weekend:
“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
– Ephesians 2:10
The speaker was Tim Anderson, founder and director of Ace in the City. His messages were centered on this theme verse with a specific focus on what he called the “Me and We” of being a follower of Jesus. If I am honest, I didn’t expect to get much out of the chapel time, but this simple and profound message meant for children has been bouncing around my mind and heart ever since.
Friday morning after lots of singing and dancing, Tim sat the children down and had them repeat, “I am loved… I am enough… My story matters to God.” He reminded all of us that we are made in the image of God and we are loved unconditionally. This is the “Me” of the message. It’s so simple, and yet I know I often fail to see myself the way God sees me. I dwell on the parts of me that I am uncomfortable with or feel stuck on. I see the failures and shortcomings long before I see who I really am: God’s masterpiece. God’s beloved.
The following morning, all the children repeated Tim and shouted, “I am loved… I have gifts… I am unique.” He talked about the beauty of individuals who are uniquely created by God sharing their gifts with one another and the power that comes from those individuals being united in Christ and working together for a common goal. This is the “We” of the message.
At the end of that session, Tim told the kids he had a secret to tell them. “Do you want to know what it is?” he asked. The kids all shouted “YES!” He kneeled down and said, “There are a lot of people that don’t want you to know this, but here’s the secret: you are going to change the world!”
“Now do you understand why it’s so important for you to grasp your belovedness? God won’t change the world through angels or through ideas; He will change the world through His sons and daughters. If you don’t know who you are, if you don’t know your true identity, you won’t touch others on His behalf.”
– Jonathan Martin, Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You’re More Like Jesus Than You Think?
Mercy Commons and every other gathering of people following Jesus is made up of unique individuals that have something to offer. Personalities, skills, giftings, and a spirit that contributes to the whole of the community. If you aren’t participating and contributing, then the church is missing out.
It is not our goal for people who make Mercy Commons their home to become molded or assimilated into some standardized cookie-cutter person in an effort to have a room full of people who think and act exactly the same. No! We want to be a community for all people to come as God has created them to be, bringing their “Me” to the “We” that is Mercy Commons.
And as we invite people to share in God’s mercy with us and grow as a community, we don’t ask them to conform to who we are, but rather we invite them in knowing that we will all become something radically new together.
You are loved. You have gifts. You are unique. Your story matters to God, and when you share all of who you are with us, we can change the world.