So the past week (Campus Training Days) were a really good time. Good times of having fun with other staff, and good times of clear communication of the campus ministry’s vision and emphasis (there were a few updates) and decent training seminars. The training seminars were valuable to me more for the opportunity to just hear people like Mike W. and Rod Alm share on certain topics, and draw from their passion and their stories.
This week, we’re at Whistler with all the other ministries. It’s luxurious, yet functional, and it’s also super hot up here. Normally this part of BC doesn’t get this sunny and hot like this. One thing I miss from last week is that because Whistler is a bigger area, we don’t end up congregating in the same spots (we were at Columbia Bible College last week), so the regular/informal hangout times that happen during free time don’t come up as much. And the Conference is only about 4 days long, really, which is a lot shorter than the full week + weekend that we spent in Abbotsford 😀
I already know one valuable thing I’m taking away from this week at Whistler – Holly Sheldon has been one of our keynote speakers, and she gave one seminar that was invaluable in painting us a picture of what the Christian life can look like. Basically, she shared on “Why Leaders Fail”, and did it by exhorting us not to give up when we fail in ministry or fall morally, and not to try and “achieve” for Jesus (i.e. performance-based). But instead, the key is to not give up when we fall and press on because we trust God and believe that He is a worthy goal and is trustworthy. AND, to not seek to do it by being committed enough, or striving hard enough to “be like Jesus”… instead trying to be more committed, we are to be more surrendered. Instead of trying to imitate Jesus, we should aim to surrender to Jesus.
What’s the difference? While commitment to and imitation of Jesus are good things, they can’t be what’s fueling our Christian walk. We don’t have what it takes to measure up to Jesus’ standard for walking with Him. Rather, we need to go beyond our efforts and acknowledge that we need Jesus in and through us. Rather than trying to “be” like Jesus, we’ve got to let Jesus reproduce his life in our life. Practically speaking, I think this means realizing how much we fall short, and acknowledging that we really need Jesus all the time if we’re going to live as the children of the Most High God.
I think often times in Christian settings, we teach on what we’re supposed to do. I don’t think that always helps us (usually we know what we’re supposed to do). I think the real step we need to take is to preach in such a way as to motivate people to want to trust God, or obey Him (e.g. by explaining how merciful God is, or how much He genuinely cares for us, or how He can be trusted to direct our lives, or how He is in control of all things [including what acts of evil He allows/ordains]). But also, I think good preaching should make it clear that it all ultimately depends on whether God chooses to change your heart to respond to these things.
I personally think that my own heart is not going to be able to respond in faith to God the way I wish it was able to, unless God makes it happen (miraculously). And perhaps God will use real, tangible ways as part of the process (like a good speaker, or something I read one day in the Bible, etc.), but I think it’s all for naught unless God has already decided beforehand that He will spark a certain affectional change in my heart and my relationship with Him. But until that happens, I think I will have to keep marching on by faith towards what I think He wants for me.