Tag StudentLife

Christmas season – God is not distant – a conversation with a university student

Making room to think about Christmas

It is an opportunity to make some room during this Christmas season and reflect about the meaning of Christmas. What is Christmas all about? What are you thoughts on the meaning of Christmas? What follows is a conversation I had with a student a few weeks ago.

What do you think about God and the meaning of life?

Meaning in life for that student is to improve other people’s lives, help them become better. He values honesty, being happy in life, and equality. About life after death, he thought life just ends the moment someone dies. The body is a vessel of the brain. About God, he thought that there are many different interpretations and misinterpretations. Therefore he is at the moment more of an agnostic.

Who was Jesus?

An amusing moment came when I asked him what he thinks about Jesus. How can we know what is true after 2000 years, he said. But Jesus came across to him as hot-headed, getting easily angry for small things, like talking to a fig tree and then cursing it. I laughed and agreed that this is an interesting moment in Jesus’ life. I think he was surprised that I responded in a relaxed way.

He also said that people say that Jesus was the Son of God. But this is more what people said about him and not how Jesus identified himself. It just became a good story. We shortly talked about how much and on what basis we can trust history since he loved reading it. He mentioned that historiography- the study of the writing of history and of historical texts- helps uncover historical truths. I agreed and noted that we can do the same with the Bible as a document and find out how reliable it is.

What do you think Jesus was trying to do?

He had a good insight into the question “what do you think Jesus was trying to do?” He said, “people were focused too much on rules. Jesus helped them understand the spirit behind these rules.” I told him that some of his thoughts show that he has more knowledge about the Bible than many students I talk to. I became curious about his background. He said that his father is a full-time Christian minister, someone that teaches the Bible weekly in a church.

The last question in the questionnaire was this, “if it were possible, would you want to know God in a personal way? Why?” He said, “I think God’s attention will go more to other people, maybe other people need him more than me.” I asked him to explain more about this. What he said shows his understanding of who God is and how God relates to human beings. He said clear and short, “I don’t think I am worthy enough or miserable enough to have God’s attention.”

God is love!

God is love! Anyone who struggles with this phrase may have a picture of God in his mind as distant, cold, and impersonal. Not the God Jesus came to reveal. Luke reminds us what Jesus said about God, that God is loving and reaching out to lost people. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

During this Christmas season make some room in your life to think about God. Christmas means that God became a man in the person of Jesus. Jesus came to reveal the love of God. Here you can read more about the God Jesus came to present. Leave your thoughts, I will try to reply within a week.

 

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StudentLife News April 2019

Christian background students with basic questions

It happens a few times every semester that I meet a Christian student that has basic questions about the Christian faith. This happens in different settings, during our weekly campus conversations, on a retreat, or at a church. This month together with Pia we met a student from India who comes from a Christian background. She is not involved with a church while in The Netherlands. Still believes some of the basics of the Christian faith. But she was not confident about her relationship with God. She also had many questions related to interpreting the Bible and how to practice her beliefs in daily life.

Big questions of life

Here are some of the questions we asked her and how she responded.

What gives your live value and meaning?

Her answer was “family, contributing to society, and impacting people’s lives. Otherwise, life would be boring.” This generation is concerned about social and global issues, especially how to contribute to the improvement of peoples’ lives. That’s great to see! Her values come from her Christian upbringing, family, friends and society.

What do you want to accomplish by the end of your life?

“Religiously, I want to live a good life without having regrets. Professionally, I want to have a positive impact on people’s lives. This supplements my personal life, also. I hope that after I am gone people will miss me because I meant something to them.” I asked her what she meant about leading a “good life.” Moral values, values I get from the Bible” was her answer.

Am I good enough?

What happens to people after they die?

“Death is like a sleep. When God comes back there will be a resurrection. Both good and not good people will be resurrected. The good people will live forever with God.” I asked her, “Will you be part of the group that will live with God? Or does this thought of separation from God scare you? What does this mean to you in your daily life?” She thought about this one a little longer. She then said, “If I fix everything, then yes, I will be with God forever.” I double checked about what the “if I fix everything” meant to her. Here comes the surprise. She mentioned mainly external things, such as smoking, drinking, live a godly life.

What do you think about God?

“God is loving, he sacrifices himself for others. God is unselfish. He is also powerful.” I pointed out, “If God is loving then he is also a person, and therefore relational. Do you have a relationship with God? How would you describe this?” Her reply was that it is a relationship that is “on and off.” She used the phrase “I feel disconnected with God at the moment.” I asked, “why do you feel disconnected from God?” This time she mentioned that she was not keeping the “Sabbath, a day of rest,” and also “I am also drinking alcohol sometimes, I should not be doing this as a Christian.” She thought that this is what the Bible says, the way her parents and church background taught her.

Who in your opinion was Jesus?

“Jesus is the saviour for our sins. He is also our example for the way to live our lives.” I asked, “What is sin?” She said, “Sin is anything we do that is against God or his laws.” She also said that someone is a Christian if he reflects God and his character. My last question was this, “If it were possible, would you want to know God in a personal way? Why?” She said, “Yes, I would like to know God because there are some things that are not clear in my mind. God could give me answers to these questions.”

Conversations at TU Delft February 2019

“Well, would you like to meet again and talk further about some of these questions with us.” She said, “Now I am busy but at some point, I would like to talk further. We gave her our contact details and pray that we will have another opportunity to talk further.

 

Key volunteer students

Our two key volunteer students, Simon and Sebastiaan, did a great work leading the weekly outreach group in Delft. Simon will take a national role this month. Sebastiaan will probably not be in Delft after the summer vacations. Together with them, we are inviting students to become key volunteers and continue leading this group. We are also doing the same thing in Rotterdam and The Hague, seeking to find more key volunteers. Contacts of Christian students you might know in these cities and prayer is welcomed.

Key volunteer students make all the difference in campus outreach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

– Proofreading Dan Truitt

– Ask God one question. Read here questions students would ask God.

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