"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

Living Out the Gospel in a Changing World [Move Magazine Feature]

Posted by Anne Witton on Monday, November 2, 2015 Under: Move magazine
This is from the latest Move magazine and was written by Student Life Director, Matt Walmsley:

Former UN Secretary General Charles Malik once said, “More potently than by any other means, change the university and you change the world.” Because university authorities KNOW this to be true and because of high-profile global events, faith groups increasingly find themselves under scrutiny on campus. This is not just a British trend, but also a global one, and can feel threatening to the ministry of those who work with students.

Sometimes we think, for both emotional and theological reasons, that if we don’t actively ‘defend’ our freedoms, that we somehow let God down. It is tempting to respond to questions and challenges with anger, political manoeuvring, or self-righteousness. Are there more helpful and nuanced ways to stand for the gospel on campus?

We certainly wouldn’t want to communicate that we have all the answers, but over the last number of years we’ve seen some principles emerge that are foundational to how we work on campus. In fact,I think they are helpful principles for anyone wanting to living an outward-focussed gospel-centred life:

1. Strive to truly understand the gospel

When we truly understand the gospel, we know that we aren't better than anyone else. Everyone is a bigger sinner than they realise and more loved than they know. The gospel is a leveller. So we don't enter conversations with a posture of superiority or inferiority. This is incredibly helpful, whether we are helping an individual on their spiritual journey or engaging with ‘gatekeepers’ on campus. People see our attitudes before they hear our words.

In the New Testament book of Acts, we see on a few occasions that there were seasons when the early church was well thought of by the wider public. Even though the gospel was not understood or embraced by wider society, its benefits were often felt by all who came into contact with the gospel movement.

This is something we have experienced on the university campus. In recent years, Agapé Student Life has been nominated as ‘Society of the Year’ in several universities. Student Unions often see our presence as a good thing. I can reassure you that this is NOT because we have stopped sharing the gospel and started handing out lots of free beer!

2. Make an effort to know others and be known

In Agapé Student Life, I think we have a good understanding of university culture. We have learned how to put on events that have spiritual content and yet are fun, engaging, and most importantly unthreatening. We have students who are not Christians bring friends who are not Christians to our events. Why? Because they know they can think and talk about the big questions of life in an environment where they are safe and respected.

The wariness of university authorities is often disarmed simply by being known - as we proactively seek relationships with Student Unions and other authorities on campus, it becomes easy for them to see that we intend and do good.

3. Know that you live under the sovereignty of God

We can get on with our work knowing that if we obey God, we need not worry about the obstacles and difficulties that get in front of us. He will remove them if he wishes. Although we love to talk about Jesus, we don't need to ‘force’ conversations with people. Often, by taking a position of submission and respect with the authorities on campus, we treat them as God asks. If we do this, we can have no fears about the outcome.

Of course, we know that above all else, God has been good to us in this season. We live in a time and place where, though there are some challenges, we still have an incredible amount of freedom. And we know that God will still be good when the season changes. In Acts, the times of the favour of the people were accompanied by a great number of people coming to faith. Our prayer is that this would happen in our time, too.

Download the latest edition of Move magazine free here.

In : Move magazine 

Tags: move gospel 


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