Today was another successful day of giving a word, a look, and a touch to students on college campuses. Thanks to the provisions of barbecue meat from a local church, the students had a very special hot meal to enjoy! Here in Texas, it is undeniable, we love our barbecue! Shameless Texan pride aside, a good handfull of people commented on the barbecue sauce that had gotten onto my shirt. It was quite humorous to exchange, because having worked with coffee and flavor syrups I was more than accustomed to wearing my work on my clothing. For many reasons, from my height, to the slight breeze, it was going to be an inevitable that some barbecue sauce would end up on my clothing. However, this handfull of individuals were quite converned about the state of my white shirt. I honestly was not concerned about my shirt, I was happy that I was able to be on campus, sharing the love of God with college students. I’ve been taking part and serving on campus for a couple of semesters now, and I and the others serving in this ministry have heard quite a few inquiries from students and I would like to discuss one of these in particular, fortunately it is directed to the barbecue sauce that may or may not be on my button-down shirt.
“Why are you doing this?”
This question is quite common amongst students and is one that we look forward to answering. Quite simply, this opens the door for us to tell them that God loves them and we want to live out that example by giving out a free hot meal. Those of us that are serving on campus are college students too! We know just how difficult being a college student can be, and so something as simple as a free meal goes a long way. However, there are some who are skeptical of what we’re offering and the totally free-ness of this meal. In the context of a college campus, I understand why some may be hesitant to chase after a free meal. Many student orginizations on campus offer free things, but require you to jump through many hoops in order to gain or benefit from these ‘free’ things. Like trying to redeem airline miles earned through credit card purchases, eventually you will only jump through so many hoops before deciding that it is not worth the time, effort, or reasoning to gain whatever is being offered as an incentive.
However, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that God is offering something that does not require any hoops to be jumped through. This is ultimately where the title of this post comes from, our interactions of college campuses. Our mission or our hope is to share the love of God to students by intentional interactions. We could easily host the meal and expect students to come to us, yet we go to the students! While it is not conventional, it works! So just as Christ loved us, so we can love others. So that is what we seek to do, by serving the students a free meal, is to share the love God has for them! Then why are we as people so hesitant of kindness, good jestures, or compassion? Why do we suspect people of having ulterior motives instead of accepting it as what it is? Compassion?
God created all things, including you and me! However, do to sin, man was separated from God. We, you and I, sinned against God. Yet God was faithful, and reconciled the relationship between Him and us. How did He do this? He sent His son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life to die on a Roman cross for a crime he did not commit so that I would be forgive of my sins. In the ultimate act of compassion, kindness, grace, forgiveness, Jesus died, and rose again three days later. Christ sacrificed himself as atonement for my transgressions. How do I deserve this? When it was my sins that put Jesus on the cross! What could I ever do to earn this? What could I do to deserve such kindness? This is where some paralles arise between our aversion freely given things.
We are skeptical of things, especially free things. We suspect people of having alternative motives than what we might see upfront. These suspicions may be well justified from time to time, but we instinctly(?) apply this suspicion to nearly all situations we may find ourselves in. Perhaps this is an instinctual protection of the ego, which is better defined as pride. Maybe this is a reaction to social issues. Maybe we cannot help but suspect nefarious schemes being worked against us! However, God offers us forgiveness of sins. Grace. Mercy. Compassion. Freely given, but we react similarly to these college students who are skeptical of our free hot meal. Whether it is at the beginning of our walk into salvation in Christ or even as we move deeper in our walk, we are hesitant to fully grasp or accept what Christ did for us. I can look back on my life and see where it was difficult to completely and wholeheartedly accept the what God had offered me. In fact, I can still question why I deserve redemption. The cold, hard fact is: I don’t deserved salvation. I don’t forgiveness. I don’t deserve love. I don’t deserve anything! However, God loves me, you, us still! We may not deserve it, but God reconciled the bond with us, His creation. So those barbecue sauce stains are nothing compared to the blood of Christ which was shed. I am made clean, made new by that blood. His hands were pierced, his legs pierced, his body hung on a cross. His sacrifice was my redemption. I could not do anything to ever earn it, I could never purchase it. It was given, freely to the world. All they must have is faith. Faith that Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life. That Jesus died on a cross for the sins of man. That three days later was resurrected. So what’s a little barbecue stain? I am made new in Christ! The greatest gift that could ever be bestowed on someone, Christ gave to all of creation. Have a good evening, y’all!