original picture taken from huffpost.com
Think back on a time when you came to have an eureka moment. Maybe you were reading a book, listening to a keynote presentation, watching a video or having a conversation with a close friend. In the midst of that experience, something hits you. Maybe it was a simple comment, some profound truth or it all finally clicked. Nonetheless, it made you think: "Wait! There might be something to this." As you start to dig deeper or listen further, your eyes are opened to a deeper truth/reality that you had not fully considered. We all have these moments in our lives. When we learn something new, grow deeper in something we have held, become challenged in a previous idea we held or simply been shown how our current held view was wrong. If we never experienced this kind of things, we would never actually grow. If we look back on our lives and think of who we were 2, 5, 10 years ago, we can see how are or views evolved over time. And if we are going to be honest with ourselves, we would expect that in 2, 5, 10 years from now, we will continue to grow and evolve in our beliefs, views and perspectives. What fascinates me though is how it almost seems as though people forget that these experiences happened in their lives when they dialogue about their current held beliefs and views.
Let me set up a scenario to drive this home. Imagine you are on-line discussing a debated topic, when someone begins to argue his view. So far so good. But all of a sudden, the conversation goes from a friendly banter about differing views, and quickly digresses to a heated debate and both sides are not willing to budge on their position and in some cases slander ensues. Sound familiar? We see this kind of thing everywhere. What is more interesting is more times than not, when I press people like this on the certainty of their position, they are quick to concede that, "of course I could be wrong." So why is it that when in the midst of an actual dialogue is this reality not kept in tension or at the forefromt of our minds?
What would happen if when we interact with someone we disagree with that we didn't simply state they are wrong and proceed to exclaim our point of view, but recognize the perspective of where they are coming from and show how you see it differently and why you come to the conclusion you come to. In so doing, we are not forfeiting our position of understanding, but simply recognizing the reality that most things can be seen from multiple differing views.
Let me illustrate it like this. There has been many times when my wife and I are sharing a story or experience we shared to friends of ours, and we find ourselves stopping each other in mid sentence saying, "Honey, that isn't how that happened." Maybe you know exactly what i am talking about. This happens because of our perception. The details and things I focused on, the things I saw and remembered and the perception I had of the experience will in many cases be quite different then what someone else in that exact same experience will remember, see and focus on. Life is rarely as mathematically accurate as we would like it to be. We are shaped by so many factors, experiences, truths, that no one can honestly claim a clinically pure perception and for many, including myself, that truth can be frustrating.
Let me be clear. I am not advocating for relativity or that we should never be confident or even fight to voice the things we see as true or have value. Any movement of change demands someone to step up and speak. We see these people all throughout history, willing to take a stand against tyranny, for change, for freedom and for truth. If such people did not have the courage to speak, stand and fight, I could only imagine what kind of world we live in. But this is not what I am speaking about. It isn't about if we should have confidence in our beliefs or that we should fight for those convictions, but in this, we need to realize we are all both teachers and learners in life and need to be willing and able to play both parts and take a position in both seats.
This is all about intellectual honesty, that we are all on a journey, and as stated above, constantly evolving and growing. This means we are teaching and learning, leading and following, speaking and listening, challenging and being challenged. I wonder, if we shifted our focus further away from trying to prove others wrong and convincing them of our evolving views, as though it was foolish to believe anything else, and instead took the position of sharing something to be seriously considered, because we see value and truth in it and could be something to what we hold true, while also willing to listen, . Would our efforts of dialogue be more effective? Maybe if we were conscience of the reality that the very thing we were arguing to defend, we could very likely change our view on 2, 5 ,10 years from now. That, just maybe, the things we so deeply believe, could possibly be wrong.
Again, I am not speaking about relativity, doubting our beliefs or values, abandoning deep rooted conviction or dialoguing without confidence as we should be confident in the things we hold to be true, until shown otherwise. But, ultimately, this is about a shift towards a posture of humility in how we dialogue. I have said before: If we were to spend as much time in crafting how and why we say what we do as much as what we actually say, I believe dialogue would become much more healthy and helpful.
Let us make sure that our manner in how we dialogue does not simply come off as intellectual superiority and utter certainty, simply wishing to make our point, claiming the ultimate position of teacher and not communicating that we also hold the position and view ourselves as a learner as well. Maybe in this space, we could have healthy and helpful dialogue that could bring about real change in our lives and the lives of the people we interact with.
photo taken from tumblr.com
by David Ritz
This boils down to 3 different things that you need to understand deeply in your heart that will help you keep Jesus at the centre of your life in university:
2.Being led by the Spirit
3.Being part of Community
What is the gospel?
The Gospel is the means by which we turn our affections from selfishness to God, from being wholly focused on me to being focused and amazed by God. It is literally good news, and the good news is the story of God and humanity. That is Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration.
God creates everything, and declares it good! He creates an amazing world with no sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, suffering, any of that. He creates mankind which was for whom the whole world was created for. God places His image into us, and He gave us the whole world to work and enjoy.
Man rejects God’s law and follows himself, through the temptation of the snake, that is the devil. We are now “naked and ashamed” because our selfishness lays exposed to God. We are now born with “dirty hearts” (as I tell my kids) or born with the stain of sin. We know intrinsically that there is a problem, and we do everything we can to solve this problem apart from God, but we cannot.
The rest of the story of Scripture talks about God’s pursuit of man. Notice the order, God pursues man. We have glimpses of the rescue through many different narrative accounts throughout Scriptures. But eventually, God sends His only Son to come and live the perfect life that we could not. To die the death that we deserve, so that we can live with a reward that should only belong to Jesus. God solves our problem of sin.
God makes all things new through the work of the cross. We are now given a new identity because of what Jesus has done, not on our merit but on the merit of Jesus. In other words, Jesus came to live the life that we could not, to die the death that we should have died, so that we can have reward that we do not deserve. 1 Peter 2:24, “For He Himself bore our sins, in His body, on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by his wounds we are healed.” Because of this we are given a new identity, we are given new family! By merit of believing that this is what Jesus did, we now have a new identity, we are part of a new family, and at the head of this family is a deeply loving father.
One day, He will restore things to how they were, an amazing world with no sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, suffering, or death!
Myself, and I’m sure other campus leaders can tell you story after story of students who are incredibly smart, have their whole life and careers planned, and find that their grades are slipping. When this happens, I have seen students slip into a depression and massive identity crises.
Because their whole lives, all of their high school courses and marks were because they had a certain career track set up for them. Now that is all in jeopardy because of some bad marks. How does the gospel respond to this?
We in order for the gospel to be part of life survival, we need to move it from a noun, to a verb. From a person, place or thing, or set of beliefs that we agree to to something that is moving in our hearts.
If your grades slip for whatever reason, the gospel responds to this by reminding us first and foremost who we are, because of what Jesus has done. Because you have believed in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, you are his beloved son or daughter. Just because you have bad marks, does not change that identity. You cannot simply cease being a son or daughter of God. Work hard for your marks, but understand that your future career, your security, your worth as a person is not wrapped up in who you become, or by your marks, but rather by who you are on the merits of Jesus dying for you.
Romans 6:4 tells us, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
We need the Holy Spirit. We need to begin to understand what it is to be Spirit-led. Remember it is not Father, Son, Holy Scriptures, but rather Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a teacher, a guide, a giver of gifts, and needs to lead and direct our lives.
It is because of the Holy Spirit that we have boldness to witness and testify to the goodness of the Spirit. The Spirit helps remind our hearts about the truths of the gospel. The whole role of the Spirit is to testify and highlight Jesus.
There is no telling what or how the Spirit may use you in your classes, with your roommates, friends and family. Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Acts 6:10, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”
Practically speaking, He is the one who strengthens and enables us to do what we need to do!
3. Being Part of Community
This can never be emphasized enough. We were not created to go through life alone. I know many of the ministers, and leaders of the campus groups, and I know that they would all agree just how vital it is for you to be plugged in somewhere. The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself from everyone else.
Some find community through small groups, some its missional communities, there are different expressions, but the goals are often the same. The one thing that we have heard consistently, is when believers isolated themselves from the community that God has placed them in, it impacted them greatly on being able to work through all of life’s stresses. Community is so vitally important! You need people to remind you of your identity in Christ, you need people to pray with you, to encourage you, we were just made for people!
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