I was recently asked to speak at an Alumni Night for my alma mater’s chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Instead of the usual talk by an actual IV staff worker, they had four people speaking: an older alumnus (that’s me), a recent graduate, a current senior, and a current freshman. This was planned as part of a theme centered around God’s work on the campus across the generations.
I have mentioned my involvement with this group before, but it was not without its share of ups and downs. I had a variety of disagreements with the way the group was set up over the years. (I’m not going to get into what those disagreements were, specifically, since this is not the point of what I’m trying to say here.) For a few months in 1997, I even went so far as to attend another church’s college group a few times, because I was frustrated with the way certain things were done at IV. I jokingly referred to this at the time as my Rebellious Period. But I eventually came back, reasoning that this group was still much more of a force of good in the world, and because I was still benefiting and growing from the teaching, Bible studies, and service opportunities.
The group has changed quite a bit since the last time I attended a non-alumni group meeting, which would have been around 2000. (I was done with school by then, but I still had younger friends still involved with IV, so I showed up every once in a while.) Some of the changes they have made are the kind of things I wasn’t sure I agreed with back in my day. In some important ways, the group had a very different feel from what it was like in the late ’90s.
But I did not feel uncomfortable there at all, because there is a common thread. And that common thread is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ died for all of our sins. Although he came in the context of a specific time period and culture, he came to bring people of every culture to God, throughout all of history. A number of students came up to me afterward and told me that they really related to the story I told. Most of these students did not come from backgrounds like mine. They grew up in a different time period, being born around the same time that I got involved with IV as a university student. But they have all known the kind of alienation I felt that night in the story that I told, and they all understood how much it meant to me to find out that my friends were praying for me.
As Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)