In the early 1980’s, I attended a small denominational Bible College. Occasionally, the Board of Governors met on campus and took their meals in the dining hall. On one occasion I observed a group of card players pick up their game and slip into a corner behind the door to finish out of view of the Board. I don’t recall that anyone had ever said we couldn’t play those kinds of cards. It was just an understanding that some might be offended at such a pursuit. For that reason, Rook®, with its numbered cards was the game of choice for many of us.
My college was actually surprisingly free of strict rules which defined other similar evangelical institutions at the time. Sure, we were to stay out of each other’s dorms and were not allowed to wear jeans to class, but we often joked about schools with their stricter rules and “pink and blue” sidewalks to keep the guys and girls separated. While the sidewalks did not actually exist, presumably the comprehensive rules were to help remind students to live a life that was pleasing to God.
We, on the other hand, were told that young women were not to leave campus in the evening without a man. Why? Because this college was in the city and stranger danger was more likely than… Well mostly we had the sense to go out in groups in our evening hikes up to the nearest vista, which had been the local garbage dump.
Back in the dining hall, heated discussions, between third and fourth year theology students could be overheard. Election versus Free Will; The Sovereignty of God versus the Responsibility of man. Occasionally these discussions would disintegrate a little with one student good-naturedly calling the other a “Heretic!” Though I was just a second year and hadn’t taken any advanced theology, I found these discussions quite entertaining and informative.
What were they grappling with? God has chosen us, since before the foundation of the world. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) At the same time we are responsible to reach out and grasp the salvation that we are offered. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12) It is a wondrous thing and I will attempt no further explanation of these truths!
The important thing is God’s work of Salvation doesn’t end when He grafts us into His tree (Romans 11). A graft needs to take root, to grow, to bear fruit. Otherwise it is a dead little stick, a useless branch.
We are chosen to be changed, as Linda, our teaching leader, stated in her lecture and as the apostle Paul stated in Romans 8:29a. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Again in Romans 12:2, the believer is reminded to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We are refined by the work of His Spirit as we serve Him. “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1b)
The transformation of the believer seems to be what some of the churches of Revelation missed out on. Let’s not miss this truth today!
I know many people are proud of their alma mater, but I think our college got something very right. We didn’t need pink and blue sidewalks or special edicts about card playing because it was never about the rules. It was about being transformed.
That is God’s work in us. Being changed is what He has chosen us for.