Studying at Wheaton has been a blessing for many reasons. I’ve met people here who are lifelong friends, I’ve been blessed by a community of believers that is both loving and God-fearing, I’ve built relationships that have both challenged me and taught me to love more. I have changed, grown, matured, and learned so much since I graduated from high school.
As a freshman, I was bombarded with a huge diverse group of people from all over the world. Each of us experienced the church, community, and life completely differently. We were thrown into community and willingly forced to build new relationships. I came to Wheaton thinking I knew what it meant to be a Christian, but I quickly realized my view of Christianity was very closed and compact. It was neatly packaged in a little box that clearly defined what was right and wrong.
As my freshman year became my senior year, I listened and heard ideas about different controversial subjects in the church, and it felt like someone was slowly taking apart the ideas and beliefs I had neatly packaged away. I heard different stories about peoples’ churches, families, different cultures, and tensions people lived in. I realized that my growing up in a half Christian home and graduating from a small American Christian high school did not mean I had all the answers. My neatly packaged little box of Christian beliefs and doctrines could not be the only solutions. Slowly God was taking the box of beliefs I brought to Wheaton and unpacking it. As if telling me, yes this is the way you see this, but there is also this way to look at it as well. It made me uncomfortable, and it still makes me uncomfortable.
I like finite, simple answers. I like being certain of what is right and wrong. But the more I search, the more I am led back to faith and trust in God. Not all answers can be finite. God is an infinite being that cannot be grasped. Therefore my search and desire for a finite, simple answer to a question about an infinite God will be endless without faith or trust. That uncertainty makes me uncomfortable in a world that demands certainty and proof.
Today in my senior capstone class for music majors, I found my thinking open even more. A student in my class shared that his beliefs are closer to agnosticism than Christianity and that he wouldn’t consider himself a Christian. I’ll be honest, my mind was blown. How could he make it through 4 years at a Christian college especially Wheaton? But I was more shocked at my inner reaction to this clear declaration of his own personal beliefs. Despite the humility and vulnerability it must’ve taken for him to admit this to a circle of “strong” Christians, who were just saying humility is boldly proclaiming Jesus is the truth and there is no other way, I found I was immediately inclined to argue with him. How insensitive of me to not be able to hear him out. He is on a journey and I’ve met him in the middle of it. He’s going through life just like you and I. But there is a context for his beliefs. How often do we have ears to hear that story? How often do we listen to people and hear where they are at and not just assume or put words in their mouth?
In chapel this morning, we read a prayer (located at the below :)) that said what we do here is never complete. Every impact we make is only a seed planted, and a step along the pathway. This prayer came to light in my senior capstone class, when I realized that everyone is in a different place. At Wheaton, we assume that everyone else believes what we believe. It is an underlying assumption about the Christian evangelical world. But the truth is, we are all on a path, some of us are on a rough patch right now, some of us are on a path of clouds. Nevertheless, we are all journeying through life together.
Being at Wheaton, I have questioned my faith more than I ever have before. I have witnessed suffering in many ways, seen the vices of organized church and religion, and felt the pain of people who are genuinely hurt by Christians. My walk with God since being at Wheaton has been anything but clarifying or filled with answers. My walk with God at Wheaton has been just that -a walk. God promises to never leave us or forsake us, His love covers our every sin, our every doubt. God is not a God who will tell you the answer to your every question, instead he will be with you, that is his promise. He is on this journey with you as long as you trust him and have faith. Living in the uncomfortability (is that a word?) and tension of knowing the truth, but not knowing the full truth has led me to have more faith and trust in him and the journey he has me on. I pray that he will teach you to not boast about your own journey, or quickly condemn or argue, but rather teach you to listen fervently to the stories of the people around you and walk alongside them on their journey to finding Truth.
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.