Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The First Degree

How often do you get to have a challenging, but refreshing conversation? One that you walk away from saying, "Wow! I've got to think about that." Working with college students is a perpetual -- WOW -- and we do much thinking, studying, and patiently explaining the most obvious of biblical concepts. Most students do not just take our word for it though. Personally, I'm glad they do not. They challenge us to go beyond the basic verses to explain grace or they will push us to dare them to believe that Jesus really walked on water. Grant it, the word faith is a hard word for these modern day young philosophers to grasp.

I am thinking of one student in particular that seems to really need weekly conversation with me. In her own way, she is seeking that foundation she knows is buried among all the philosophical riff-raff that permeates this campus like a heavy fog. She is a Christian, and believes strongly in Christ, His redeeming power, and possesses a dynamic and impressive Christian worldview. However, there is a young gentleman that has caught her eye who is a philosophy student. He, too, claims to be a Christian, but from what she tells me; if it is a true relationship with Christ, he is certainly moving away from biblical teaching thanks to the efficient teachings of the philosophy profs here. He has challenged my student friend to push beyond the limits of the Bible and common sense and to think deeply for herself and to question everything almost in a sort of "Socrates" kind of way. Because she would like to impress him and be able to carry on a conversation that has depths enough to impress this aspiring philosopher, she has become obsessed with asking questions and thinking way beyond the realms of Christian philosophies.

She recently told me about an evening she spent with this guy friend and three others. Let me set the stage: She is a Christian, her "boy" friend is a "Christian" wannabe philosophy major, one of the other two an atheist, another someone who hopes they have done the right thing to appease God, and the third is a Buddhist. Quite an ecletic collage, don't you think? It was during a very bizarre conversation about worshipping the beauty of people and nature and what is worth the effort of adoration and so on, that my student friend realized she was out of her league. She found herself being swept into the current of humanism and New Age "theology" and as hard as she tried, she could find no place to dig in her heels. Her soul was deeply convicted with her unpreparedness.

After that incident, our conversations have turned a little more back to the basics. I challenged her to think about her friends and their need for a Savior above all else - no more what they might think. She has asked questions about how to share salvation with someone like a Buddhist or an atheist. Thus, Jeff and I have decided that a thorough study of world religions and cults in light of the Gospel would be a great place to park second semester during our Bible studies.

This student's story is an echo of many other students that we know who get caught up in the illusions of secularism so prevalent on college campuses. It's a constant reminder to stick with the basics. Salvation in its purist sense is simple and clear. We are compelled to guide these students to peel off all the extra layers of private interpretation and humanistic evaluation of the Gospel, and be sure, be very sure they know where their foundation is. This is so very important for those times when they are given the First Degree by those seeking their redemption some other way!