Outside the Camp – Thoughts on Sin, Salvation, and Ministry

Several years ago (before I knew I would actually serve in law enforcement), I took a community services chaplaincy course with an emphasis on law enforcement chaplaincy.  The theme for the Church of God Chaplains Commission (www.cogchaplains.com) is “Ministry Beyond the Gates.”  Chaplaincy is a ministry that is anything but conventional, and reaches outside the limitations of the “four walls of the church.” 

Hebrews 13:12 speaks of Jesus’ suffering “outside the gate.”  Jesus’ life and death was an example of reaching out to the marginalized (people living and suffering on the margins, outside the parameters of “normal” society), less fortunate people who either cannot or will not come to him.  In John 4 Jesus was compelled to go through Samaria to minister to the needs of the woman at the well.  Samaria was the place where no “good” Hebrew would go, because they would be considered unclean.  But, Jesus did not avoid this sinner.  In fact, He went outside the gate and took upon Himself the sins of us all, so that we might be brought into the family of God through His sacrifice. 

The problems of our society, our nation, and our world find sin as the least common denominator.  In other words, everything boils down to the problem of sin.  Every day we serve in the highways and hedges and encounter people “outside the gates” who are sin-plagued and in need of salvation.  That’s our ministry…to go beyond the gates and reach those who may never come to our churches.  In a sense, we are all chaplains.  As I’ve said before, we are certainly all ministers.

On occasion I have re-posted blog posts from friend and chaplain, Grant Wolf.  Yesterday he continued this thought of sin, salvation, and ministry in a very powerful and thought-provoking way.  As I rejoice in what Christ has done in my life, I encourage you to meditate upon these thoughts as well.  May our lives be redeemed so that we may remain “inside the gates,” but may our ministry continually take us “outside the gates!”

March 5 Thought for Today – “Outside the Camp”

“But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.” – Exodus 29:14 

“You shall send them outside the camp so that they will not defile their camp where I (God) dwell in their midst.” – Numbers 5:3 

“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside the gate. – Hebrews 13:12

“He has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” – Galatians 3:13

God hates sin.

From the very outset of His instructions to Moses, God made it clear there were things He considered “unclean,” and He wanted them removed from the camp. Whether it was the remains of a burnt offering, persons with leprosy or other defects, the “scapegoat” (Leviticus 16) or when Jesus bore all the sins of all mankind in His body, God cannot tolerate sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul wrote about sexual immorality in the church (fellowship of believers). After a stinging rebuke to the Corinthian brethren for their tolerance of this sin, Paul concluded the chapter with these words: “Remove the wicked man from yourselves” (verse 13). Later, in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul felt the man had been punished sufficiently, and he told the Corinthians to “forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow…reaffirm your love for him.”

“Outside the camp” deals with two sides of an issue: 

·         Living our lives in such a way that no cause is found for putting us “outside the camp” – removed from fellowship by other believers because of our flagrant disregard for the Lord’s teachings, commands and ordinances.

·         As a body of believers, understanding God’s hatred for sin and taking action when necessary to remove someone from close Christian fellowship to “outside the camp.” Then understanding if and when he once again can be brought back into fellowship.

“Outside the camp” should be where no believer wants to be.  Our aim should be what John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 1:3-4:

that you too may have fellowship with us (other believers); and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.


Chaplain Grant Wolf
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2 Responses to Outside the Camp – Thoughts on Sin, Salvation, and Ministry

  1. Pingback: We are not saved by our good works, but saved in order to do good works « bummyla

  2. Kimberly says:

    (Please pass this on)

    Note: I have been receiving emails from everywhere from people I do not even know but who have been touched by my writing. As they share their heart-wrenching stories with me, I realize just how powerful my small contribution is. I would love to hear from you if my writing has touched your heart or the heart of a loved one. Take Good Care, Kimberly


    Visit: http://www.facebook.com/memorialcrosses

    As I drive down this desolate road, one more time, I see an all too familiar and re-occurring site. It is almost dark, it is cold and raining and I instantly know what it is. There it is, a silouette in the distance, merging closer, yet closer. There it stands now, very still. I see it clearly, so barren, so self explanatory, so lifeless. The “vision” says it all.

    Again, I know all too well what I must do as I start to pray. I start my prayer chant of acknowledging that this is where a human being went from life to death in an instant. I am reminded again just how frail and uncertain Life is.

    So now I pray. I pray this same old prayer that I pray when driving down the highway and happening upon a cross; but wait, tonight there are three brand new crosses looming in the shadows ahead.

    I am immediately jolted awake into consciousness and as the reality sinks in, I sit up straighter in the car seat. I won’t drive home down this road tonight with my usual blank stare, for this section of road has just become “my prayer ground”.

    I know my place, my mantra. I will pray for the loved ones whom have lost their mother, sister, brother, friend. This is all I can do but at least it is something. Tonight, I see a very small cross fixed in the middle of two larger ones. Tonight, Am I praying for a small child whom was taken all too soon and for no reason?

    As I take that first deep breath in and take my prayer stance with my hands pointed upwards, I notice that this time my response is more than a disconnect and just going through the required motions of the prayer ritual. This time, I am weeping and at first I am not sure why. Am I weeping because I am wondering if this was the result of an accident that I may have saw on the local news station last week?

    No, I am weeping because it has just occurred to me that if every time that I drive by one of these memorial sites fixed on a roadway hillside and Pray, then there must be others who are praying as they drive by these same memorial sites as well. The realization of the magnitude of “a community of prayer” is overwhelming to me.

    How comforting to know that these people will never be forgotten. These people whom were just going about their busy day when death took them so suddenly. It makes you question yourself, your place in time, your mortality. To not do so, would be to not be human.

    With the realization ever present in my mind, I am comforted to know there are many people praying for these lost loved ones every minute of every day, when they did not even know them ! How profound that we all come together in silent prayer each day, at the same time, in different corners of the world; in this case to grieve and to remember a loved one.

    It would be beyond all reason and compassion for another fellow human being if these hillside memorial crosses were to be forced by the city into being dismantled after a specified time period. These memorials represent much more than just a reminder or a reflection. Roadside memorials are a bold statement to all who care to think deeply, that we are not above reprive or invincible. These “shrines” were once real people whom were loved by a whole village, and they represent the deep seeded emotions of the realization that their loved one(s) passed from life to death in this very spot at that exact moment. It is almost like you can “see” the transition. The visualization of life/death, life/death, is now engrained in my vision forever.

    Now, as I drive by these new hillside crosses, I cannot help but rejoice in a prayer of my own as I give thanks to those who acknowledge these lost souls and pray for us all in order to gain a place in the afterlife. I am also reminded of the many lost souls that are still wandering around lost in this life.

    I will continue to recite my loving prayer of compassion to all of those whom have lost a loved one in this way. Let it be a comfort to you that people do care, your neighbors do pray for you and let the power of our ongoing community prayer comfort you in your days to come as you are learning to go on from here without your loved one(s).

    As for those good souls who are spreading their prayers throughout our great city, we pray for you today as well. You are truly “prayer soldiers” for helping to unite all of humanity in prayer. It is also a realization that you would pray for my family if the roadside memorial would ever bear my name.

    Love never fails. Now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love.
    But the greatest of these is Love.
    1 Corinthians 13: 8,13

    written by:
    Kimberly Willison
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    Visit: http://www.facebook.com/memorialcrosses and share your story

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