Core Values: Christ First in Love & Life
Steve Swayze, Pastor, Milford Baptist Church
Only one life ’twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
A friend of mine earned a trip through work to Monaco. On a tour, the guide told a story about a conflict between Prince Rainier of Monaco and Aristotle Onassis – the reigning political power versus the financial titan. When asked who won, the guide said, “The king, of course.” Why? “Because when it comes to kings, there can only be one.” Jesus said as much, not concerning political versus economic power, but regarding spiritual powers, when He said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24, ESV). At Lake Ann Camp, we believe and seek to live out the truth that “Christ is First in Love and Life,” because, there can only be one king.
“Christ First” is an exclusive claim. We at Lake Ann Camp did not dream this up. It’s central to God’s eternal plan. In the Bible, we read that God’s long-term plan is “to unite all things in Him (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:10, ESV). Similarly, Paul writes “in Him (Christ) all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17, ESV), and that God’s intention is “that in everything He (Christ) might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18, ESV). Only of Jesus did God say with the voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, ESV). All of this to say that it is God’s plan for Christ, God’s Anointed and Appointed One, to be first. And only one can be first.
All the Other Values Proceed from this One
“Christ First in Love and Life” is the first of Lake Ann Camp’s core values. One could argue that all the other values proceed from this one. Get this one right, and all the others will fall into place. Get this one wrong, and there will be trouble all down the line. Isn’t that the way it works in all our lives? So many of our problems arise, not because of the problem itself, but because of something deeper. It’s not usually just a problem of thinking, or feeling, or relating, or spending. It’s a heart problem – a spiritual problem. Our hearts want what they want, as if there were a little king in there, demanding his/her due. And he/she acts as though there can only be one. And that’s true. But ultimately, that One must be Christ.
And so our phrase goes straight to the heart, from the beginning: “Christ first in love.” What do our hearts regard as more important than anything else? Whom do we adore? With what are we most impressed? And we have to come back, time and again, to this one answer: Christ. So many times, speaking personally, I realize that I really want the world to revolve around me. And when I find out that it doesn’t, I’d get frustrated and angry. My wife didn’t seem to take my agenda into account, or the driver ahead of me seems not to care about my schedule, etc. And when I get around to thinking honestly as opposed to responding angrily, I realize that I have once again welcomed into my heart that old problem of putting myself at the center, where Christ alone belongs.
We Live Our Lives as a Living Sacrifice
Our first core value also says “Christ First…in Life.” We actually live for him, because He died for us. We live our lives as a “living sacrifice,” since Jesus already gave himself up as our dying sacrifice, having walked in our shoes and died in our place. He bore the weight of our sin so that we could experience the lightness, the weightless burden, of giving up what is “normal” so that we can serve and share, love and care for others. The Lake Ann Camp facilities and programs, staff and contributors, allow us to do just that, making a difference in the lives of hundreds, and, over the generations, thousands.
We invite you to trust Christ, to let him be the center of your life, as your King. Because, after all, there can only be One.