This past week, among other things, I had the privilege of sharing with Union College's Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship a brief message on the meaning of Christmas. After the carols had been sung, the food devoured, and the white elephant gifts exchanged and stolen (I got a great gift for my kids - Moon Sand - stole it from Paul. Tough luck, dude - my kids love it!), we got to spend some time connecting with the students, some of whom follow Christ, some who do not. What a blessing. Here's what I encountered:

Ian - I spent about 45 minutes discussing the problem of evil, the existence of Original Sin, the apparent difficulties with understanding the Old Testament and New Testament "miracles," and the perceived conflict between the Sovereignty of God (specifically his ability/inability to intervene in my life) and my exercise of the divinely-given Free Will. What a conversation! These students are incredibly bright, have amazing abilities in logic and reason, and are desperately searching for what is true and real. I felt like I was in over my head at times, but had a great time - my head hurt by the end, I'm not going to lie. I had the great honor of pointing Ian to the Scriptures, explaining that some of his issues and "problems" were not nearly that significant as the Scriptures had directly answered them in plain language (for example, he was struggling with the parting of the Red Sea and how God would break his own laws of nature, "bending the rules," to accomplish that. He was surprised to see that God, according to HIs word, used a "strong east wind" to part the waters - nothing outside the realm of natural forces).

I was on my way out the door when I was drawn into another conversation with a young man who claims to be a functioning atheist yet is willing and open to searching for "god" through different faith systems. We had a great dialogue about the definition and nature of God. His hangup is that God seems too human. I was privileged to drive him to the Scriptures and counter that maybe God isn't made in our image, but we in His (this is, after all, the explanation the Bible gives us). This man believes that religion (specifically Christianity) is driven by the natural fears of men - fears of death, fears of a useless and meaningless life, fears of being alone. Christianity is, in his perception, a way to cope with the harsh realities of life. He believes that my God is a crutch, a figment of Western imagination, to allow us to deal with things that we are too scared to embrace. I spoke with him for almost another 45 minutes and was able to say some very pointed and difficult things in a respectful and non-combative setting. Praying for a great breakthrough in his life and in his heart.

But here's what really struck me - the questions that people are asking are changing. The barriers to the gospel are in some ways different, but in many ways still the same - hearts are hardened, minds are futile, understanding is darkened. The only hope for these people was the only hope for me - the glorious gospel of Jesus. Pray for my friend Jibu as he ministers to these wonderful college students and pray for God to open eyes and illuminate the scriptures that some might come to faith.

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