I’ve been to quite a few CMS Summer Schools, and this year’s is turning out to be a cracker! Here are some highlights for me from the first 24 hours.
1. God is at the centre.
The God who reveals himself in the Christian Scriptures stands alone at the centre of his creation: ‘In the beginning, God …’. Genesis 1 intentionally challenges every belief system, every competing worldview. Who do you believe is at the centre? Who do you believe is in control? Do you believe that what he has created is good?
Reflecting on this I find it disturbingly easy to give mental assent to these basic Christian truths, but not let their power shape my attitudes and actions. How is it reflected in my prayer life? Or in the way I relate to others? Or in the way I think about this life I’ve been given and the way I hope to use it? As Peter Jensen commented in his first talk the temptation is always to put ourselves at the centre and God at the periphery as our servant. Hardly the picture that Genesis 1 presents!
2. Unmasking the lies of secularism
‘When God rules, humanity flourishes.’ So Peter Jensen summarised Genesis 2. Noting the false promises of ‘freedom’ trumpeted by contemporary secularism Peter commented, ‘Secular ideology is an attack on humanity and our flourishing. We must out-think, out-love and out-live our secular contemporaries.’
For me this was one of those beautiful reminders for which I come to Summer School each year. That the gospel of Jesus Christ really is ‘good news’ for every creature under heaven, not just in the age to come, but here and now. Only under God’s loving rule, seen in obedience to his Word, will any of us flourish—my unbelieving friends included.
3. Faith-filled living
For me the power of embracing the above truths was evident when I went to a session where several missos were speaking of the challenge of taking your family into a cross-cultural situation. In all the hurdles that this entails, what truthsenable you to continue? God is in control. He is at the centre. When he rules it is good, very good and only under his rule do we truly flourish.
I was inspired by the genuinely wise and faith-filled parenting of my Christian brothers and sisters. And it made me wonder: have we turned our children’s Aussie lifestyle(education, comfort, ‘opportunities’) into an ‘I can have this and God too’ idol? Do we really trust that God will look after our children, even as we do bold things for the Lord Jesus? Is our living full of faith, or do we doubtthat God will deliver on the things that are most important for our kids?
Rowan Kemp is the leader of the Evangelical Union (EU) staff team at Sydney University and the CEO of the EU Graduates Fund.