College offers the opportunity to explore different interests and some students choose to investigate religion. Jessie, a graduate student from China attending the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, is one of those students. At InterVarsity’s last Mark Manuscript Study group of the semester, Jessie was intrigued when the apostle Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ!” (Mark 8:29, NIV)
She wondered why Peter questioned Jesus as He taught that He must suffer and die. The group discussed the kind of Christ that Peter and the disciples were looking for: they wanted Him to come with power, defeat Israel’s enemies, and bring justice to the world. The group talked about how Christ’s mission on the cross presents this powerful image of Christ and what following Jesus in a life of discipleship means.
Some students believe that people’s actions need to prove their worthiness to get into Heaven. Others think that it doesn’t matter what we do, Christ’s death on the cross predetermined our acceptance into Heaven. Jessie’s group concluded that to follow Jesus is to abandon one’s selfish ways of living in the world and to be willing to look past our own needs to hear Christ’s message.
Some students arrive on campus with a desire to seek the truth of Jesus and explore Christianity. As young adults, the question is whether we choose to be identified with Christ. Ann Beyerlein, InterVarsity staff at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, is encouraging a Bible study group to see how Daniel, an Old Testament character in the Bible, experienced the same struggles in Babylon that students’ today face on college campuses.
Daniel’s experience shows us the difficulties of maintaining religious beliefs in a secular society. (Daniel 1:1-21, NIV) Daniel and his friends had to learn a new language and face academic challenges. Daniel needed to maintain his identity, prayer life, and priorities in a different environment. Like Daniel, students experience the conflict between God’s Kingdom and the “kingdom” of the university. “Students discover they need to pray regularly, as Daniel did, and to keep up their spiritual disciplines, so that they can live in a culture that is foreign to the Kingdom of God,” said Ann Beyerlein.
InterVarsity encourages students to continue or begin a relationship with Jesus Christ among all the changes in their lives.