People wearing red jumpers all over campus; invitations to go to lunch bars and evening talks; random people in grey jumpers asking us if we have heard about a man named Jesus. You might experience these scenarios throughout this week as the Durham Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (DICCU) organises its annual Events Week.
The Events Week is a series of lunchtime and evening talks. Food is served and someone will try to answer a particular question posed to Christianity or speak about how Jesus’ claims matter to the individual. There will also be a question and answer time where the audience can pose any question in relation to the topic discussed.
But one might postulate: why put so much effort into this? A possibility could be that Christianity is outdated, and Christians use any means possible to rope in ‘new converts’ as an attempt to keep afloat a dying tradition. Or perhaps Christianity is a religious institution seeking to impose its dogma to keep society (hence, people) under control, akin to an Orwellian ‘Big Brother’. Or perhaps Christians are deluded, albeit enthusiastic men and women trying to encourage the masses to place blind faith over rationality.
Those suggestions might be true, but perhaps there is more than meets the eye. Christians gain nothing by telling you about Jesus. There is no merit from God they need to earn. In fact, on face value, there is possibly plenty to lose. They risk rejection and social estrangement; they risk offending their friends; they spend time arranging chairs and preparing meals, washing dishes and packing up.
So why do something that does not yield immediate, tangible benefits? As a Christian, I believe that God – often an enigmatic figure (or non-figure to some) – has decisively revealed Himself to humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The singular act on the cross where justice and love met meant that the human condition of rebellion against God is dealt with – once for all. Therefore, the Christian speaks, because God has first spoken salvation.
The theme for the Events Week this year is ‘This is Life’ and Jesus says in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” There is fullness of life on offer and Jesus promises that it is satisfying – far more satisfying than anything this material world can offer. However, there is no promise of a problem-free life. Contrary to that, the life promised will be fraught with difficulty. Nevertheless, there is purpose and direction. We are able to share in the joys of this world and can start to make sense of the sufferings that befall it. Christians believe that only when a right relationship between us and God is restored, can we fully and truly live. And that restoration is found in accepting Jesus.
You might disagree, and we respect that; you may have doubts and we don’t claim to have all the answers. Yet why do Christians evangelise? We have tasted this life and want you to share in our sense of wonder and joy.
So before we dismiss Jesus as either a liar or a lunatic, or patronisingly regard him merely as a moral teacher, consider going to one of the talks. Explore. Question. Discover. You might find that the Jesus who makes this bold claim is perhaps telling the truth.