Our Guest-blogger this week, recent graduate Hollin, is speaking up against ignorance in favor of grace, in our Uni societies and beyond...
At university I was never a member of any societies, I remember signing up for a kid's theatre company at Fresher's Fair, never going & still receiving emails in my third year. However, one of the beauties of university is how you are immersed in diversity right from the word go. You meet all sorts of weird and wonderful people, some you will love to chat to and some that are just a little odd, who you love regardless obviously!
As a Christian, university is an amazing time to push, develop and test your faith as it comes up against strict opposition. My student days are quickly becoming a distant daze, quicker than I'd like, yet I still remember those long philosophical debates late into night with friends or sometimes randoms. What I used to hate in these conversations was some peoples ignorance, not necessarily to the story of the bible but to the importance of my beliefs. Even after explaining my convictions or my beliefs in Jesus some, albeit a small number, would mock and be so ignorant to the value my faith held that it would mean having a respectful exchange about religion became impossible.
I read an article on the Guardian's website detailing the story of the UCLA's atheist society and their use of a picture on their Facebook page. The picture is taken from a series of cartoons appealing to atheists called 'Jesus & Mo'. It depicts Jesus & the Muslim prophet Muhammad having a pint and making jokes. All sounds pretty harmless, no? Well, in theory yes it's pretty harmless, I mean who hasn't seen a cartoon of Jesus making a joke to illustrate a point in a sermon? However, for a Muslim it is a big deal. For a Muslim it is considered a big sin to depict images of Muhammad or Allah (Arabic for God). When the SU got involved asking the society to take it down they refused, causing a global outcry but cheers from renowned atheists. Good ol' Dr Dawkins signed a petition to keep the picture, stating 'they [the picture] only offend those who are actively seeking to be offended- that says it all' does it Richard? I think there is more to be said.
What frustrates me so much about this particular story is not the difference of opinion or the picture itself, it is the lack of grace shown by the society. I'm not expecting them to suddenly become a Muslim or even a Christian, though of course that would be amazing! What I hope is for grace to be the central crux of human interaction.
Grace doesn't appear in any other world religion but Christianty, therefore it is up to us to be the generation that demonstrates it so abundantly and obviously. Grace that makes others look at societies like UCLA Atheists and say I don't want that, instead thinking I want more of this thing called grace. Ultimately making them ask more about Jesus who makes this grace thing possible.
I'm praying for societies in our universities, like UCLA. I'm praying that through the Christians God has placed there, he will move mightily in that place. He will stir something in his students to exuberant grace in every action so that people can't help but notice. Amen?
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2