CFE raises difficult questions

Christian Faith Exploration. Sounds like a soft and fluffy phrase about discovering Christianity, that is, until you don’t get your CFE reflection report completed properly and suddenly you have a hold on next quarter’s class registration. This is not good. Suddenly you feel betrayed by a system that is supposed to be the most loving and caring since it deals with the Christian faith. Questions begin to emerge in the mind, asking: "What does a CFE reflection have to do with faith anyway, and how does submitting a reflection do anything to bring me closer to God; if you know all the events that you attended shouldn’t that suffice? Who cares anyway?" I have asked myself those questions many times over the past year-and-a-half since the CFE program has been in effect. I’ll attempt to share my answers.

Being a student who represents the Office of Campus Ministries, I have heard numerous complaints and frustrations about CFE reports. Some students are angry. They don’t like having "unacceptable" or "incomplete" status" over their head, and they don’t know why they weren’t "acceptable" according to the system. I also hear students say that they are not at home anymore and that they don’t need "parents" looking over their shoulders to see if they are truly going to chapel or not. True. In fact, I respect people who have these feelings; I hope that I am their representative within OCM because I am here to help. I wonder, though, if students are taking time to get the point of what the CFE program is really about.

I am struck by something deeper than the argument for or against the CFE program. I know that there is frustration among some students concerning the CFE program, and we are working on making it better all the time. That is not the issue. The issue goes deeper into a person’s character, into their integrity and honesty. That’s what honor is. Honor doesn’t come to you in how you treat yourself. Honor comes in how you treat others. Integrity comes in how you treat yourself, all alone, when no one is watching. And I wonder when we get through the clatter and noise and the arrogance of ourselves if we will hear God speaking to us, asking for our honor and our integrity.

Now think about why the CFE program exists. In a system that offers you choices for worship, personal relationships in small groups and the opportunity to serve those in your community, I wonder how people see CFE as a constraint. How can something that pushes you to give of yourself to others be disliked, especially on a campus that calls itself Christian? The CFE program does not force anyone to lie–people make that choice–but instead it allows you the freedom of choice and responsibility. But have we lost touch with what it means to give our lives to the call of Christ to spread the Gospel in truth? I am no longer speaking of the CFE program but of the heart of the individual to act honestly and honorably. Do we value ourselves enough that we would give the right answer when asked? Or do we justify the means in order to reach the needed ends?

God may not speak to you in the CFE program, but he should speak to you through the people who are in that program, a program of which this campus is a part, meant to help you grow in Christ, because we are all exploring our faith, whether or not you are a Christian. The CFE program is made to push you further, helping you ask better questions about yourself and who you are, and more importantly, who God has created you to be. God is not a program, and CFE is not built to be a model of what God has for our lives. CFE exists as an answer to those questions that everyone should be dealing with. If there is a lesson to learn here it is not that the OCM staff is not perfect, but it is a lesson that surrounds you every day in the presence of others who challenge your faith, from music that hopes to stretch your ideas of worship and in speakers who share some of their wisdom with you in chapel. In a world where we have so much going on, are we looking for God amidst ourselves? Are we allowing ourselves enough humility and love to listen to what God is trying to teach us? I truly hope so.

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Title: CFE raises difficult questions | Author: Aaron Panfilio | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2001-01-31 | Internal ID: 1779