Canvas | Issue 90: True Witness
Since the beginning of the year, TSCF groups have been meeting students all over NZ. Many students don’t know much at all about Jesus. In a survey run this year by the University of Canterbury (UC) Christian Union, 59% of students believed Jesus was simply a good teacher, 27% believed he was a myth or legend, less than 1% believed he was a prophet, and the remaining 13% believed he was God and Saviour. Most students seem to think they can either take or leave Jesus – it doesn’t really matter what we think about him, after all, what difference will it make? This raises a significant question – Are we amazed by Jesus?
To anyone, Christian or non-Christian, Jesus should be a remarkable and confronting person. Everyone who meets Jesus in the gospel accounts is gob-smacked – amazed at his teaching, astounded by his authority in healing, in casting out demons, even over creation itself. They can’t help but tell everyone about Jesus, even though they can’t quite understand who he is. Have we, as Christians, lost our amazement in Jesus? I have been asking myself this question as I keep meeting students who don’t know Jesus, but are curious about him. What would you say to someone to pique their curiosity? What amazes you about him?
After 20 years in student ministry at UC, I’ve noticed some things remain the same. Many people still have a vague idea about Jesus but have never read about him first-hand in the Bible, and everyone is different so it’s best not to put people in a box. A big difference I’ve noticed is that brokenness is now more a part of everyone’s lives, so it’s important to listen well and care for those we meet, just as Jesus did. People still seem to have a positive view of Jesus, even if they have a more negative view of Christians, so we need to keep telling people about him!
Students continue to be surprised by Jesus as they read about him in the gospel accounts. Jesus doesn’t just have amazing authority and power, he is humble, and loves and cares for those around him. He proclaims the coming of God’s kingdom, and in compassion, he draws others into the kingdom as they see their own brokenness and failings before God. But Jesus still takes sin seriously. People confronted by him know they are unworthy and broken, but that they are also loved and accepted by God. Ultimately this all comes together in Jesus’ death and resurrection, bringing forgiveness of sin, the offer of new life and the hope of the new creation when pain, suffering and sin will be no more. This truly is amazing news because, to those who acknowledge him, Jesus is life-changing.
How can we help those around us to get a glimpse of Jesus that amazes them, intrigues them and stirs them to know more?
This amazement about Jesus, leading to our desire to reach tertiary students all over NZ, is reflected in our core aim as TSCF: True Witness. Wanting others to know Jesus has always been central to our DNA. Our prayer for our whole TSCF community is that this continues, not just on campus, but in every area throughout our lives, as graduates and partners with TSCF. Let’s partner together in the amazing gospel of Jesus.
Mark Santich, True Witness Coordinator & Canterbury Team Leader