Why Am I Here?
It’s good to know when we’re in a place where we can lose our soul. Strangely, these spiritual sinkholes often have a respectable feel, even a Christian smell to them. One in particular opened beneath me a few years ago. An opportunity ambushed me to try something I’d never thought about. Someone I greatly respected both intellectually and spiritually tagged me about doing this. I sat simultaneously shocked, scared and yet deeply honored in a way that made me completely drop my guard. The discernment grid that the Spirit of God maintains around my life dropped like a musty old curtain rotting off the rod. My sin of pride sank a fang into this and I never felt it. A lot looked great. As I started, God genuinely worked. I found that, by His grace, I could do this. People around me and complete strangers said nice things, very nice things I never thought would be said about me. A certain fame, visibility, or at least notoriety mixed with the potential of financial gain to make a heady brew. Fellow pastors congratulated me on how good God was to open this door. But they were wrong. A lot of sloppy talk proliferates today about open doors and opportunities. How desperately important to see whether it’s God’s hand, our own or a demonic claw on the latch. Although Christ used it for a season, that’s all it was and I turned it down. Someone later asked me about it and I shook my head and said, “I would have lost my soul in there.”
Many would point to today’s campus as such a place. My take on the contemporary university is in. If it were the absolute hell hole that some think, this blog would target unicorns and space aliens (both of whom I invite to “follow” or subscribe if they’re reading). the places many think poisonous to grace often produce the heartiest, most vigorous lives that showcase what Jesus Christ can do when He throws His fastball. But we can lose our souls there, see the Holy Spirit’s craftsmanship desecrated, the image of God marred, the seed of the Gospel snatched from good soil or choked out. (Matt. 13:1-23) Why are we here – on this campus right now? A lot of answers bristle and the truth blends at least some of them together for everyone. High school is over and we have to go somewhere. Our parents want us to go to college (even though they may only pay if we go to certain ones or one in particular). Maybe we’re desperate to get out of the house and will go anywhere. One night in Canada, I spoke about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). I said, “Nobody should understand this like students. The old man’s driving us crazy. We have to get out of there!” Toward the back of the hall, one girl nodded her head so hard I thought she’d dislocate her neck. When I speak, such things become invitations to participate in my talk. I asked where she was from and she answered, “Wolfville, Nova Scotia.” “So,” I said, “you could be sleeping in your own bed tonight and snacking out of your parent’s refrigerator while going to either Acadia or Dalhousie.” She grinned. Here she was halfway across Canada. Some of us are on campus because we fell in love with it during a high school tour. Some of us came because we’re excited about learning and pursuing some idea of a career. Maybe we want to see what a bigger pool can mean as to what the guys or girls look like. Maybe this is the only school where varsity Yahtzee gives scholarships. Maybe we can’t describe it; it just grabbed us. (My incoming freshman answer back in the day).
For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, one answer crowns any medley of those just listed. We are on this campus to mine the overarching calling Jesus Christ places on our lives. Even if we don’t party our tail out of school or risk pregnancy or a host of STD’s in the hookup scene. Even if we’re a library rat spending every Friday and Saturday night studying. Even if we regularly go to large group and jam with the praise band, we can lose our souls in the middle of Christian campus ministries. They can be nothing more than apprenticeships preparing us for the bland, safe and respectable Christian ghetto that much of the church has become. We can really lose our soul in there. We will not likely see again the opportunity of considering the big questions and the big God who evokes them alongside the threshold of so many major life shaping decisions outside the window of our university years. We want to get this right. Humble obedience here can save years squandered in mediocre deadness. All the good things we enjoy in Jesus can be nothing but accusing ghosts ten or twenty years from now.
In “mining” a calling from God, the Holy Spirit will be doing the digging and maybe a little surgery. He will be our trainer In this brief space, I’ll only give brief pointers. We will look at foundational stuff. Called to be and/or to do what? How does the Spirit carve, shape and fit this thing called “calling” to our lives (joys, burdens, gifts, arena of service)? In God’s gymnasium, what kind of things does He use to prepare us to live this calling out over a lifetime? How do we feed the fires that the Holy Spirit lights on the altars of our hearts? In academia, the PhD is the ID of importance and significance. What’s it’s equivalent in the Kingdom? How do we connect with mentors who model this and avoid ones that don’t? Do we want to hit sixty years of age with a fire in our belly and a fruitful history of knocking the evil one’s tail up into his throat? Or do we want to end up with spinal arthritis from endless pew sitting and vague memories of things of promise from God in college that faded over the years until we barely remember? Not a hard choice right now, is it? “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10)
A little homework for next time. Give these verses a read – John 15:16, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 3:12.
Some cool things for you –
Jordon Monge is a courageous young lady. I’ll let her tell you about herself.
Steve Lutz goes onto the Great Reads page here with “College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture”. Run over to Hearts and Minds Books and score a copy. Tell them you saw it here and you’ll get a discount.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and return the infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.