“The trouble with schools is they always try to teach the wrong lesson
Believe me, I’ve been kicked out of enough of them to know
They want you to become less callow, less shallow
But I say: why invite stress in?
Stop studying strife and learn to live “the unexamined life”…”
I love reading. And I love discussing and debating and forming my own opinions, finding out what other people think about the world. As a literature student, I love doing this through books and what richer text to do this with than the Bible?
When I first came to university, I was worried that I did and would have no Christian friends around me, no one my age to spark off inspiration about the Bible, that theological thirst might run dry. Not that I wouldn’t be able to hear and learn about the Bible, just that I might not have that excitement to always find out more and go deeper. Well, I think it’s fair to say, I needn’t have been worried.
Just before heading up North again, I got to spend the weekend in Cambridge with truly irreplaceable friends sharing in inspirational testimony and simply, great fellowship. It was a fantastic stop on the way back to uni (and gave me the opportunity to pretty much hitch hike all the way back to uni for the grand total of £8.20 including a Burger King stop).
That was before spending the Wednesday to Saturday before term started in Cumbria with my Bible study group. Here we had three days of questions, discussions and teaching. Now, this may not sound particularly interesting but I had changed my views and learnt so much that when we got back I immediately went over to my friends flat to tell them about the retreat (well, and to actually see them and wish them a Happy New Year and all that). But, expecting to spend about half an hour there saying hello and catching up on Christmas breaks, I mentioned one of the things that was discussed at the retreat and well, I was there for a bit longer than half an hour. In fact, after a little while, I realised it wasn’t going to be a quick discussion when my friends went to the extent of cooking me dinner, thinking I probably wasn’t going to leave so they might as well feed me. It was great though, talking with such different people, I was there with my four friends, three were in the CU and went to church, one was a feminist, one had pretty fundamental biblical views and one wasn’t a Christian. Suddenly, everything I had previously learnt and discussed was opened up so much more when talking to other people, just when I thought I actually understood some things. But, to be honest, I think some Christians can be pretty naive to believe we can only learn from other Christians or even just other Christians with similar theologies. Anyway, I got there at about four in the afternoon and well, at about half past nine, I decided it was probably time to go and say hello to my own flat.
The next day followed with a great and challenging sermon and a Bible study, both only raising more questions. This was great as I met up with loads of people in our next CU meeting two days later where discussions continued and we got deep into a variety of issues and topics. In the last week, I had covered everything from predestination to marriage to prayer, asking questions like “Does God want everyone in Heaven with Him?” “Does prayer actually change things?” and “Does the Bible tell us everything God wants us to know?”
This was only made better when I was invited back to a friends flat for stew. Now, considering we had all just come from the bar, it was nearly eleven o’clock in the evening and we had all already had dinner, when I heard “stew”, I was expecting a small slightly sparse studenty supper. This was simply not the case. In fact, just thinking this was clear proof that that was my first time in their flat. When we got there, they piled spoonfulls and spoonfulls of rice onto my plate before getting to their elaborate and exciting spicy African stew that had been left to cook all day, leaving what I would call an absolute mountain on my plate. I looked at it and it did look and smell beautiful but I thought I could never eat all that. That was when they opened the oven and pulled out a full leg of lamb that they had roasted that day and started carving it. I have to say, my instincts were right, it was all beautiful but sadly, I did have to turn down the banoffee pie that followed. That’s what I call a good student dinner.
So, it’s been a good start to term but my brain has been well and truly stretched and molded and messed up and put back together in different ways before I even began lectures so I may need to go and sleep for a very long time while it all processes. However, to sum up, here are a few things I’ve learnt about Christians over the past couple of weeks:
If you find people equally interested in theological discussions and healthy debates, there’s a good chance they’ll feed you.
Christians are not people that know everything about God. Nor do they need to know everything about God or even always agree.
In terms of Christianity, the Bible isn’t everything. Now this may sound controversial and don’t get me wrong, it’s hugely important and immensely useful, but it isn’t everything.
Just because you’re a Christian does not mean you can’t have an opinion of your own.
“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Be like children; have the willingness to believe but never stop asking questions 🙂