Sally Jo and I spent three weeks studying under Dr. Francis and Edith Schaefer at the L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and three weeks under Major Ian Thomas in at Capernwray Hall in England. Whereas I felt I had a reasonable understanding of Christian doctrine and the Christian life, I did not feel adequately prepared to answer the challenging questions the students at Middle Tennessee State University would raise.
Both of these ministries focused on meeting the spiritual needs of the students, and others, who came. Dr. Schaefer wrote “How shall we Then Live?”, “The Mark of The Christian” and other books. Each Saturday evening he would sit on the hearth of the fireplace and ask “What shall we talk about tonight?” Out would come the questions.
Dr. Schaefer never backed off his position that the Bible was God’s Word and could be trusted as such. I do not remember that he answered questions with a barrage of Scripture. What he did was tie the question into the total perspective, the overall teaching of the Bible. Surprising to me, the students were satisfied – and moved on to the next un-anticipated, often deeply personal question. During the three Saturday evenings we were present, he repeated the same basic answers over and over again – God’s system, God’s plan, was cohesive, and both broad and specific as to it’s guidance. How shall we then live? The Bible tells us. Try it…it works!
Students at L’Abri, at Capernwray – and those attending colleges and universities in the US do ask difficult questions, but behind almost every real question is: ”Does my question have an answer that is consistent with the teachings of the Bible and work in daily Christian living?” My personal challenge continues to be to convey to students that the Christian life is a cohesive philosophy of life with implications for daily living. The Bible teaches that God created humanity and loves His creation so completely that He sent His Son Jesus to demonstrate God’s love for His people, even to the place where Jesus died for their forgiveness. God desires that His creation choose to trust Him, to enjoy His goodness and to choose to love Him. People have always struggled with what God tells people to do and not do, but when any person chooses to seek to obey God’s directives, he increasingly understands God and His ways, to love God, and over time, experience God’s work in him and through him.
We see this truth in many Biblical passages including:
- “Noah was a righteous man…he walked with God” “Noah did all the Lord commanded him to do” — Gen 6:9, 7:5 25
- ”Enoch walked with God” — Genesis 5:24
- “Abram believed the Lord” — Gen 15:6
- “Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded” — Exodus 7:20
- “Joshua…left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” — Joshua 11:15
- “David did as the Lord commanded him” — II Samuel 5:25
- “Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water” — Matthew 14:29
- Paul said: “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which Good has called me” — Philippians 3:14
Jesus brings this perspective to His own teachings: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” Jesus said: “You are my friends if you do what I command. Jn 15:14
Does living God’s way work? Does it satisfy me? Yes! Do I fear death? No! Do I wonder how I should live or focus my efforts? Not really. God knows my heart. I seek to live In Partnership With God – as did Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Peter, and Paul and many others.
God knows what is best for us! God will guide us into situations for which He has given us the gifts and the training. Will some of these be faith-testing? We can hope so! It should take courage to obey God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him!” Hebrews 11:6
I do not believe history provides a better way to live.