In my last post, I presented a basic definition of the gospel as a foundation for the culture of a college student life. This post attempts to apply the gospel to the rules and regulations of the campus.
Now, let’s consider how gospel-centered truth would impact the student life of a Christian liberal arts college. Foremost, I would affirm that every relationship, family unit, people group, society, and or campus needs order. We all need to know what is appropriate and what is expected, as well as what is not. Chaos reigns without order and boundaries.
A Christian liberal arts college like Clearwater acknowledges the existence of the Triune God and the integrity and authority of His Word preserved for us in the Scriptures. Without question, CCC will submit to the Lord God and His Word. His commands will be our delight. We are a Christian community who loves and worships the God who created us and then redeemed us with the meritorious work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do acknowledge that there will be some who live among us who don’t understand the value of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While they live among us and study with us, we want them to know that CCC will patiently journey with them so they will ultimately see the grace and love of Christ genuinely displayed.
CCC will have a code of ethics and behavior that is in keeping with the Word of God, that is sensible, enforceable, and that provides safety for residents, commuters, and guests. At CCC, this code of ethics is detailed in our student handbook, called The Guide, and in our faculty, staff, and board manuals. We are working hard to make sure that these manuals are crafted carefully. They must have the right tone and they must have a healthy perspective. Specifically, I want our manuals to be influenced by the gospel. They must have an encouraging tone, they must motivate us in a Cross-centered manner, they must inspire us to servanthood, and they must focus us on holiness.
In summary, gospel-centered discipleship at CCC lovingly journeys with each student from his or her starting point with eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) to the end where he or she becomes a mature worshipper of the living God and is a gift to the church upon graduation. CCC will be redemptive in all discipline situations. We will appeal to the heart of everyone in the CCC community as we address sin. We will be gracious and long suffering, willing to err on the side of the gospel over law.
Next, the gospel shapes the student life of a Christian liberal arts college in distinctive ways.
First, it creates an anticipation for us. Given the dynamic and effective nature of the gospel we anticipate that it will work in redemptive, sanctifying, and encouraging ways as it is featured in every aspect of college life.
Second, it offers us enduring hope. The gospel points us to Christ and thus gives us hope.
Third, it provides us a perspective. The gospel reminds us that we are sinners. It teaches us that once we are in Christ through faith in His finished work we are complete and we are no longer in an earning and proving mode to secure and maintain divine favor. Sinners freed from the debt of their sins are patient with other sinners, are grateful, and they are thankful people who humbly walk in step with God’s Holy Spirit. The gospel has the power to deliver us from abusive and domineering behavior that could be encouraged by unhealthy student life policies or routines. In a more redemptive way, the gospel keeps us focused on the great commands to love God and to love one another.
Fourth, it makes us missional. The gospel is good news that must be proclaimed. A gospel-saturated culture preaches Christ in keeping with the Great Commission imperative. Students living in this culture will be shown the love of Christ and will then, hopefully, show the love of Christ, and proclaim the gospel in both word and deed to their fellow students. A gospel-saturated community will carry the gospel from the campus to the community and to the world.
Fifth, it produces disciple-makers. Gospel proclamation and Great Command obedience produces disciple makers.
Sixth, it reaches past compliance to Christ. At CCC we want students, faculty, and staff to be good and to do good. However, being good with an indifferent, calloused heart is not good. We must never tire of upholding Christ as our ultimate joy and our most satisfying Lord.
Seventh, it celebrates/encourages holy living obedience empowered by the Holy Spirit. A gospel-centered culture pursues holiness and godly living. In the same manner that we reach beyond compliance to Christ, we encourage each other to walk in step with the Spirit so we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Finally and ultimately, it glorifies the Lord. Gospel-centered living, ministry, and Christian liberal arts student life in the joyful way acknowledges the weight and worth of God Himself.
I am sure that the shaping of student life by the gospel could be articulated in a variety of ways and even in a more capable manner; however, I believe the gospel is a weighty matter that must be the centerpiece of academics, student life, and operations at a Christian College.