Perfect life isn’t necessary to be a witness to others

Engaging the culture.

We’ve all heard it a million times to the point where it doesn’t even have any meaning now. It seems to be a piece of rhetoric that must have meant something to someone at sometime, but nowadays its meaning is lost in repetition. Engaging the culture is this thing that SPU students do, although from the people I’ve talked to, few know what doing that looks like.

If the students at SPU stand for engaging the culture and changing the world, it would be safe to assume that the student leaders are doing the best job at representing that idiom. They are responsible for the numerous campus activities that keep SPU engaging the culture.

Activities like SPRINT, Urban Involvement, GROUP and Chapel do a good job of reaching out to the Seattle area and beyond with short term and continuing missions.

I have no intention of saying that they aren’t doing their job to engage the culture, but what if another group of students at SPU were doing a better job. A group that no one would have suspected.

There are some students at this university who don’t participate in floor events. They may not even live on campus. No one has seen them at GROUP since they were physically forced to go by floor tradition.

Here’s the kicker: some of these students party at other schools. They go out drinking on weekends and hang out in Seattle hot spots not likely to see a stereotypical SPU student. Believe it or not, they are out there in the real world with the smokers, drinkers and drug users that exist outside the "SPU bubble."

These are the fringe Christians of SPU. Unless there is a divine judgment that comes down with complete clarity, I’m not trying to say whether a fringe Christian or perfect SMC is doing a better job at engaging the culture.

Once, a long time ago, I used to hang out in a small smoky coffee house in Michigan where I grew up. All types of people would pass through or stay for a game of pool. For the most part though, the crowd was far from what you would see on the SPU campus. A few regulars in the coffee house were living under a bridge at age 17, having run away from home. One good friend of mine was fighting a cocaine addiction. The coffee house was a good place to meet before parties.

It was at that place that most of my best conversations arose. While sitting around pondering high school angst and where to find the next party, we would occasionally come to the topic of religion.

At the time it was a losing battle. I was the only one there who would be considered anything of a Christian and I was far from the weekly Bible studying, Bible-toting, Church-going standard. As intellectual atheists would argue their point, I would weakly defend the Christian ideals.

What I saw as a failure at the time came full circle a few months ago when one of those friends e-mailed me asking for a church in the area.

This was the same person who had almost convinced me of atheism two years earlier, now asking for a Christian church to attend. He told me that living an atheistic life simply stopped making sense and he remembered our conversations. Now he wants to explore the Christianity I so weakly made a case for, simply because I was making that attempt when we last debated religion.

The point I am getting at is that the students at SPU who may not fit the mold may be reaching out to those who would never hear a Christian message in a way that not even they may know.

Contrary to popular belief, even drug users and alcoholics do debate religion. I have heard stories of and witnessed conversations where a room full of people under the influence have tried to comprehend the same theological ideas that SPU forums, chapels and lectures do, only a little less coherently after the fifth shot of vodka.

If the Great Commission commands Christians to reach out and communicate the message of the Bible, these fringe Christians may be doing their job as well.

In no way am I attempting to call them blameless for being on the same level as those they are willing to communicate with. There are some pretty clear rules for living by the Bible and fringe Christians aren’t going to win the award for the closest life to Jesus.

But the point is, and this is really what I’m trying to get at, that they are doing a part that might be worth recognizing. It doesn’t take a perfect life to tell others about Christ. Sometimes a single conversation can make all the difference.

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Title: Perfect life isn’t necessary to be a witness to others | Author: Nate Ellis | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2004-04-28 | Internal ID: 3946