The Subversive Christ
Every three years the Urbana Mission Convention, sponsored by the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, takes place in Urbana-Champaign. As usual more than 20,000 students, missionaries and others attended this year. The Convention ended on January 1. In the past John Stott and Eric Alexander have been some of the men giving the morning Bible readings. This year one of the speakers who made an impact was Vinoth Ramachandra. He is a staff member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and he spoke on the uniqueness of Christ.
The Lord Jesus is unique, he said, because he, as the Saviour of the world, was killed as a common criminal. Ramachandra said the fact that Jesus died a criminal’s death was nonsense to many in the first century. The saving message of the cross was subversive because it bypassed all the philosophies of the ancient world and went straight to a crucified Saviour, he said. Ramachandra described three ways that the gospel of Jesus Christ remains unique:
1] First, the cross subverts all other salvation stories. Other beliefs hold that salvation is being freed from the world, that life is somehow evil, and that to be saved is to be in one sense less human. By contrast, Ramachandra said, Jesus came to us as God incarnate, suffered as we did, and through his redemption offers forgiveness and then enables humans to become more human, not less.
2] Second, he said, Jesus is unique because he subverts the way of thinking that came out of the last 200 years of history. In this thinking, self is emphasised, and the philosophies of Marx and others focus on how humanity can find fulfilment in itself. Jesus, on the other hand, exposes and judges sin and teaches that humanity doesn’t have the answer within itself and that every human effort of finding fulfilment or God will never work. Christ makes us truly human, and satisfies that longing, he said.
3] Thirdly, Ramachandra said, Jesus subverts the post-modern view that there is no ultimate truth. The problem with this, he said, is that humanity is left totally alone, wandering through vague “spirituality” and “virtual reality”. In Christ, though God takes us as we are, changes us, and gives us a definite truth (himself) to follow.
Ramachandra exhorted the Convention not to see the world as a battlefield against opposing views, but as a mission field. He said that the church first lives out its mission by loving one another. The unity of true Christians shows by their actions what life in Christ is like, he said. Believers further their mission by being willing to die in order to bear fruit.
At an offering taken at the Convention over a million dollars was given to mission organisations around the world, especially the Fellowship of Evangelical Students.
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