Article for The Current
A few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article about life outside the classroom at The Master’s College. I don’t know if they decided to use this in The Current or not, but I thought it would be good to publish here, if only as a reminder of how great life at TMC is. The dorms have changed my life. I hope they’re changing yours.
I spent some time a couple nights ago browsing through journals of my time here at Master’s. It was fun remembering the faithfulness of God in hard situations, seeing Him transform my thinking, laughing over funny stories that I had forgotten. And yet in the midst of everything I’ve written about the last three years, I couldn’t find a singe paragraph about academics. This certainly wasn’t intentional. I didn’t plan to ignore what consumes a large percentage of my week. Rather, I write about what I care about. About what really matters to me. About what creates joy and laughter, sorrow and dependence. About what draws me closer to the Lord and grows my ability to minister to my brothers and sisters. If I’m honest, the most meaningful education I’ve received at Master’s hasn’t come in the classroom, but rather in the dorms.
When I think of Master’s, I think of men who have had an impact on my life through the way they talked, lived, and pursued me in community. My understanding of the gospel transitioned from of the realm of intellectual ideas to my hands and feet as I watched people live every moment under the Word of God. Howard Hendricks says “Christianity is more caught than taught.” I fully agree with him, for there is no more powerful way to communicate gospel truth into someone’s life than to grab them by the wrist and say I’m following Christ, come with me.
I’ll never forget the first time someone challenged my superficial expectations of relationships. During my freshman year I was moving my laundry from washer to dryer when a senior asked me how things were in my room. I said something along the lines of “We’re just different, you know.” He looked at me and genuinely said, “No, I don’t know.” That was the first time someone my age asked me a question because they wanted to minister the gospel into my life, rather than to determine if we had enough in common to be playmates. At that moment I realized that I was at a fork in the road. Answering the question meant taking the risk to tell this person I really didn’t know well that I didn’t like my roommates, was struggling to keep up in classes, and was feeling pretty lonely. With a great amount of fear and trepidation, I invited someone into my life for the first time. I can’t even remember what he said to me in the rest of that conversation, but the fact that he pursued me opened my eyes to see that I was missing something. I’d never seen or been a part of a peer relationship where someone had said “Christ pursued me to the cross. Because of that, come hell or high water I’m not running way from you. Even when you sin. Come, let’s experience the grace of God together.”
Halfway through my sophomore year I began to feel as though the Lord was leading me towards pastoral ministry instead of law school. In the process I had lunch with my RD to talk about the wisdom of changing majors. Little did I know that this one conversation would turn into a discipleship relationship which would open up a whole new world I didn’t know existed. He invited me into his life, and I saw what it means to live a radical, on-edge, uncompromising life motivated by the understanding that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Only when I came to understand that truth—life is Christ, death is gain—did the joy of pursuing people become real to me. The gospel is risk. It is not safe. Jesus doesn’t give disclaimers, He gives commands. And none of them are comfortable. Nothing other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could explain why it is a joy to love hard-to-love people. Nothing other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could explain why I’m willing to take a stand for pure speech. Unless Christ is the treasure and the treasure is everything to me, pursuing people doesn’t make sense. Because it hurts. It’s messy. And things don’t always turn out okay. But Christ’s pursuit of me led Him to a cross, and the sting of unkind words hurled at me is nothing compared to the whip of a Roman executioner and the wrath of a holy God.
Life in the dorms isn’t training for something else. It’s real, authentic ministry in the present. Real souls are saved at Master’s. The real Satan is trying desperately to overthrow this campus’ love for God. The real Savior stirs hearts in faith. When I started writing, I wanted to make sure I had room to talk about my roommate who looked at me one night with terror-stricken eyes and said in quiet tones “I’m not sure if I’m saved.” And about the joy of watching a wingmate strive to grow in his ability to relate to people. And about the sadness of having someone walk in and say “My grandpa just died. I think he’s in hell right now.” But there’s too much to tell. Even as I write these down, I can think of conversation after conversation where my hurting brothers and I met anew the tender love of Christ. This hasn’t happened in the classroom. It’s happened in small moments like brushing my teeth, going to Wal-Mart, or throwing away rotten watermelon. Because college is both the boot camp and the battle. I’m being trained for a life of joyful service to Christ as part of His church. And yet the battle is here. Now. The real war isn’t fought in the tactics room of academics. It’s fought in the trenches. When we’re charging the hill behind our captain Jesus Christ, there’s no greater confidence than to look to the right and left and see faithful men who aren’t scared of the battle, and, come hell or high water, who won’t run away.