Going Deep into the Gospel
As Craig Nersten began moving the chapel chairs into small circles we had an idea that his plan for the Sports Week Formations chapel service was a little unorthodox. Standing at the door, Craig began to place students into specific groups, separating students based on ethnicity and gender. The result was almost 15 separate multi-ethnic groups that would engage in Craig's theme for the late night session. Craig's big idea was to challenge students by letting them know his goal for the year.
A video of Craig's message can be seen at our Campus Ministries Page. His passion was to communicate the goal of his staff and the instructors at Hillcrest to have students realize and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it's function in the lives of those who hear it. Craig introduced the small group study for the dormitories in Tullian Tchividjian's new book Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything.
Throughout the book Tchividjian explains that the gospel holds power for believers and non-believers alike:
I once assumed that the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deper theological waters. But I've come to realize that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn't to steer them beyond the gospel but move them more deeply into it...in other words, (the gospel) isn't just the power of God to save you; it's the power of God to grow you once you're saved.
Tullian's objective is noticeable as his continual focus is to draw readers to understand the reality of Christ and the expressed purpose of His message:
Oftentimes in our relationship with God, because of sin - our constant tendency to blow it - we think, I'm ruining my relationship with God. But I like how one pastor expressed it: "The determining factor in my relationship to God is not my past or my present, but Christ's past and His present."
The theme and focus of Tullian's piece is reminiscent of Pascal's Pensees Section 7 on Morality and Doctrine. Pascal comments:
...there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.
Pascal's Pensees are a series of thoughts written following his conversion as part of a bigger project that was never completed. His original intent was to create a defense for the Christian faith, something he had committed to by living an ascetic lifestyle following his successful career in mathematics. The work of Pascal and Tchividjian seem to ride along the same path as both have been driven deeper into life as they have found their significance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our desire throughout our work this year is that students would find purpose and meaning in the lives, prepared to live a life of significance having been trained to understand the world from a loving Creator.