Monday, 15 October 2007

Don’t waste your (university) life: Jesus is Lord

Congratulations. You’re here. You’re a student. A returning student, having survived placement year. A second year student, having survived first year. You’ve got loads of people trying to give you advice. Your parents. Your Guild. Your friends. Your tutors. Your great-aunt who you thought was dead until she sent you a tenner to “help you at college with all those books you need to buy”. Here’s some advice from The Aston Times editor:
Just a thought... have you ever wondered where your life is going? I turned twenty recently and re alised that a huge chunk of my life had already been lived, but what had I achieved? I answered myself that I had gone through school and got GCSE’s and A-levels and had, in turn, got into Aston University. I’ve passed my driving test, can play an instrument and have done things I never dreamed I would... bla bla. All achievements and landmarks in my life that I am proud of. ... Where are you going and what do you plan to achieve in your life? For me my ultimate goal is happiness for me and all those around me.
Where are you going and what do you plan to achieve in your life? I don’t want to pile on more advice. I’m going to turn to a small bit of God’s picture on life, and give you just one thing to remember when you think about university life. Jesus is Lord.

Does that seem far away from being a student at Aston? It’s the ultimate message of God and the universe. It’s the ultimate goal of all things. Look, other people can tell you that Keycom are rubbish. Other people can invite you to Gosta. Other people can tell you which meals are good in Café Lago! Other people can remind you to get your assignments in on time. But if you’re going to think about where you’re going and what you plan to achieve while at uni – if you’re not going to waste your life, then remember this ultimate goal: Jesus rules.

That’s not just my take on life vs. last year’s editor’s take on life; it’s not just a lifestyle you might want to consider. It’s fact. I’m going to read a short section from the Bible – if you have one with you, turn to Romans 1.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints... [ESV]
This, Paul says, is the gospel, the good news, of God. This is the creator of the universe speaking: not just your student newspaper editor. And he says there’s good news all about Jesus Christ our Lord. If you’re not going to waste your time at uni, remember this: Jesus is Lord. If you’ve trusted him with your life, he’s your Lord. Not that he belongs to you. Look how Christians are called in v6: you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

That’s your identity: you belong to Jesus Christ. You’re not defined by being a student. Your lifestyle (sleeping in, lectures, watch neighbours, study, coffee, chat with flatmates, study, pasta, go out, sleep in, lectures…) doesn’t define you. Your bank balance (or lack of it) doesn’t define you. Your clothes don’t define you. Your subject doesn’t define you. Your gender and sexuality don’t define you. Your background doesn’t define you. Your identity is that you belong to Jesus – Jesus Christ. What does that mean? Look again at vv.2-5. You belong to the one all the prophets spoke about in the old testament. The one to whom all God’s people looked forward to in faith for 2000 years. The one who was God’s faithful Son where all the others failed through disobedience and mistrust of God’s word. The one descended from David - the rescuing King God promised for thousands of years. The one who was shared our humanity – perfectly man, he represented us but didn’t sin. The one who rose from the dead and is appointed to a position of power and authority, God’s King, to rule the nations and judge the world! The one who will bring about a new heavens and new earth which will be perfect, redeemed, restored, renewed. The one whom ALL will worship, giving praise and glory because he ALONE is worthy. You belong to him. That’s your identity, because Jesus Christ is Lord. Not an academic or social interest: he’s Lord. You belong to Jesus Christ our Lord.

So what? So what for you on campus? You trust in Jesus and believe he’s Lord. So what? Paul says this gospel sets him apart. It makes him stick out.

Imagine this: one day you’re walking across campus with a friend and as you pass the lake you see a couple of students creeping up behind a Canada goose with a net. As you stop and stare, they quickly throw the net over the goose, and while one holds it down, the other grabs it by the neck and wrings its neck. They start to drag it inside, one saying, “I wonder how long it’ll take to roast?” You turn incredulously to your friend, who sees your look and says, “It’s ok: Canada geese are classified vermin so it’s not illegal to kill them.” You reply, “It’s not just whether it’s legal! Those girls are in the vegetarian society!”

Y’see, no matter whether it’s permitted on campus, a vegetarian won’t roast a goose. That's not who they are! And a leeetle bit like that, no matter what’s permitted on campus, or what everyone else is doing, if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, your life will be shaped by him: that's who you are! Look at what God’s looking for, in response to Jesus, his saving kingship and his rule: in v.5 we’re told he wants to bring about the obedience of faith in all nations, for Jesus’ glory. He wants people trusting in Jesus and living it out.

That involves 2 things on campus, which aren’t really all that separate – living lives belonging to Jesus Christ, shaped by trust in him, and telling others about Jesus Christ, so they can respond with faith and live lives for his glory too! All to see him glorified. “What are you doing and what do you plan to achieve in your life?” the Aston Times editor asked. Glorify Jesus. Magnify his glory. There is nothing bigger you could do with your time at uni and the rest of your life.

Magnify Jesus on campus. What's that about? Well, it means we want to be like a telescope, not a magnifying glass. A magnifying glass makes tiny things look bigger than they are, but a telescope makes you see humungous things more like the size they really are! You look down a telescope and see that tiny speck you thought was dust on the lens of your glasses is actually a ball of burning gas so heavy that if our planet were anywhere nearer it, we’d fall towards it and be burnt to oblivion!

That’s what our lives & words should do with Jesus: students around us think he’s about as significant and precious as a speck of dust on the lens of their glasses. Looking at us, and listening to us, they should see down a telescope: see how in reality Jesus Christ is Lord: he’s magnificent, glorious, merciful, gracious, powerful, just, yet saving, and infinitely precious, for who he is and what he’s done.

Jesus is Lord. That’s why Christian Union exists: to promote the good news that Jesus rules. To be a telescope for other students to look at Jesus. We live for Jesus and we speak for Jesus. We get involved in church so we learn from those who know Jesus better & for longer, and see how they live for Jesus & speak for Jesus in their stage of life, and we hear from his Word and obey it. We get together on campus to encourage each other in living with Jesus as saviour-King and Lord, and we get together to show campus what Jesus being saviour-King and Lord looks like. We get together to help each other tell those around us why we have this hope in Jesus. We get together to obey the good news, to call people on campus – from all countries – to faith in Jesus, so he’ll be seen more and more for what he is – absolutely and above everything we know, magnificent.

You will find, if you haven’t already, that you have some different views from others in the CU, some different experiences of living for Jesus, and we certainly won’t all like the same style or way of doing things: but Jesus is infinitely more precious than what style we find helpful, he’s infinitely more worthy than what makes us feel comfortable. And he prayed for God to put his glory in those who believe in his apostles’ message, so we’d be one, so that the world would believe that the Father sent Jesus. It’s hard work, but we get to work as the various parts of that telescope, magnifying Jesus for our campus: displaying his glory, declaring his glory. The Christian Union glows with God’s glory, not because we’re wonderful, but as in life, in word, and with the power of the Holy Spirit we testify that Jesus is Saviour-King and Lord.

So Jesus is Christ and Lord. How are you going to respond to that? God’s good news demands trust in his Son. Do you trust in him for your life & death? Then live for him & speak for him at university, to be a telescope for your campus to see him by the Holy Spirit in us. That’s what CU is: but that’s beside the point. It’s what God’s gospel is.

1 comment:

the postmortem said...

I love the comparison with a vegetarian roasting a goose. Sometimes we blur the lines between who we are and what we do. It's shocking how readily Christians dismiss their identity for the sake of appeasing others. Thank you for your encouragement!