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Centered on Christ: Following the Way, the Truth, and the Life on Campus
He was a rage-breathing firebrand who grew into the world’s most passionate missionary. “I resolved to know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
She was downcast, a disappointed woman who became the first person to share the good news. “I have seen the Lord! He is risen!”
He was impetuous, a man with a coward’s heart and a carnival barker’s mouth who preached the sermon that sparked the first revival. “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Paul. Mary Magdalene. Peter. You know the names. But you don’t know them because they were intrinsically special people, or natural super saints. You know them because, different as they were from each other, they shared one thing in common: Jesus was the center of their lives.
Christians in early times were known as followers of “the Way.” The metaphor of a path, or way, evokes Christ’s centrality. To make a path is to create two sides: what’s on your left and what’s on your right. The only central thing is the path itself; everything else is off to one side or another. So when Jesus says in John 14 that he is “the way,” it’s not just a proclamation of exclusivity. It’s a claim about his centrality. There are many paths, many ways, to walk in this world. But only one Way is the true center; only one Way leads to real life.
InterVarsity is a Christ-centered ministry. Everything we do—Bible study, prayer, evangelism, service, missions—is about pointing students and faculty back toward Christ, encouraging them to center their lives on Jesus and follow him as the Way.
To be centered on Christ inevitably draws the crosshairs of some part of culture. It means proclaiming the absolute lordship of Christ over one’s words, as well as one’s wallet. It means submitting every slice of us, from identity to idols, to his teaching. It sometimes means losing popularity contests among people you would otherwise count as friends.
But it also means running to thirsty people with the water of grace and forgiveness. It means taking the hand of a desperate, hopeless world and pointing them to the One from whom all hope flows. It sometimes means showing love and friendship among people you might otherwise count as enemies.
Students and faculty on campuses everywhere are hungry for this centrality. The fulfillment they’ve been promised from making things besides Christ their center—their own desires, ambitions, meaning—isn’t coming. They want to know that there’s a purpose for their existence, a reason they long for transcendence, an answer to their sense that there has to be “more,” somehow.
At Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Marsha had led a Bible study all year but had grown discouraged. She began doubting if Jesus could actually work through her efforts. But then one day she learned that Gary, an international student from a sensitive country, had privately given his life to Jesus after attending her study. “Bible study really does transform people’s lives!” she exclaimed. Jesus is the new center of Gary’s life, all because Marsha made following Jesus the center of hers.
Students at California State University–Fresno, inspired by the parable of the banquet in Luke 14, knocked on doors in their dorms and invited friends to an InterVarsity meeting. Sarah arrived with two of her friends and initially seemed uninterested in hearing about Jesus. However, she grew more and more engaged as the night progressed. When the speaker invited students to begin a relationship with Jesus, Sarah’s hand shot up, and she prayed to accept Christ. Her heart is being transformed and recentered on Jesus as she seeks to follow him.
InterVarsity’s vision is centered on Jesus. Our eyes are “fixed on the author and perfector of our faith.” Like Peter, Mary, Paul, once you have centered your life on Christ—once you’ve seen the Way—it’s hard to run toward anything else.