The Basics Are Always the Basics

April 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Grace and Faith | Leave a comment

On Saturday I was in a board meeting for Campus Ventures college ministry.  We spent some time with campus ministers discussing the question of how we can know a student has a genuine relationship with God.  Over thirty years of my association with Campus Ventures, as a student, a staff member, and now a board member, we have seen too many who were very involved as students, apparently growing as followers of Jesus, who completely fell away after college.  The discussion was to the effect that it is better to do less with students and impact their entire lives than to do more but only impact their college years.  But how can we know when the relationship is genuine and when it is just a fun thing to do or when they are going through the motions to please a peer or campus minister?

There were a few things on which everyone agreed.  First, students must truly understand and live the lordship of Jesus; he must be the centrality of their lives.  This would be demonstrated in attitudes about doing hard things and submitting to leadership, and by priorities students set while in college.  Second, they must have a true commitment to the authority of scripture, an understanding that the Bible really is the Word of God.  This is demonstrated by a desire to be in God’s Word beyond the basic assigned duties and by decision making based on biblical principles.  Third, students must demonstrate a life of grace, recognizing the sufficiency of Christ in all things.  This is demonstrated by their motivation for doing what they do; by getting away from the performance track; by an attitude of grace toward others.   This one is difficult in a disciple-making ministry since so much of what is done can be interpreted as performance based activities.  Things like having quiet times, memorizing scripture, and going through discipleship materials can easily become performance rather than response to God’s grace.  Finally, students who have a genuine relationship with Christ will be committed to Christian community.  This could be demonstrated by their involvement with, and enthusiasm for, church and small groups.

One of the campus ministers pointed out that these issues are all presented in the Navigator’s “Wheel” illustration about the Christian life in balance.  That illustration is often used by Campus Ventures.  My thought, being the theologian I am, was that the first three items are all foundational issues of the Reformation:  The lordship and sovereignty of Jesus, the authority of the Word, and grace.  Sola Christus, Sola Gloria, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia!  It seems, as I was taught in Campus Ventures, the basics are always the basics.

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