This week I’m in Guatemala with a service team from my church. We’re beginning work on a multi-year sanitation system for a Maya community, Chuicutama, in the Highlands. Our reflections for the week center on the theme of Jubilee, the biblical commandment mandates forgiveness of debts and economic restoration as part of God’s New Creation.
If you’d like to support our work, as it’s a multiyear project, you can do so by clicking here:
To complement this theme, I’ve asked Laina Schneider, a friend and college student at Virginia Tech to post her thoughts on Jubilee. Laina studies agriculture at Tech and has served as Aldersgate’s mission intern in both Guatemala and Cambodia. Perhaps more importantly, as a college student her wrestling with questions of faith and life are just what the Church needs to hear. I’d encourage you to subscribe to Laina’s blog here.
Being a college-aged Christian is really weird. College is often the first time people are really challenged in their faith, or confronted with they actually believe, as opposed to what they think they are supposed to believe.
You are suddenly thrust into the middle of a huge basin of conflicting ideas and beliefs, when very often, your “faith” is still based on a religion handed to you as a child.
There are dozens of organizations and churches, and it is hard to distinguish which one is right for you. This past year, I attended 4 churches, and 5 campus ministries, and found myself confused about how they were different, or sometimes, how they were similar.
One of the main focuses of campus ministry is the Gospel.
Everyone talked about it, but no one could get down to telling me exactly what it was.
I learned plenty of names for it: good news, Christ’s message, the New Testament, the story of Jesus, and that there are gospels according to several people – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
But in all the Bible stories, and in all the ways we learn we are supposed to live like Christ, which one is the true gospel? You don’t have to be in college to appreciate this struggle either, Sunday school didn’t help me to deduce the true meaning, and I would venture to guess that there are plenty of churchgoers of all ages, confused about what the gospel actually is. In Jesus’ first sermon in Luke, he reveals that the gospel, the good news, is the consummation of Jubilee, as foretold in the Old Testament. Jubilee is a celebration and rest period where the fields lie fallow and all debts are forgiven. That doesn’t seem so confusing.
So why is it so hard for people to articulate it? I think people get caught up in the details. People might say you are a sinner for lying or cheating or a thousand other things that are “wrong”. But look at the over-arching theme in what Jesus is saying through the good news in Luke 4 in his first sermon at home.
He came to institute jubilee so that all people might live in love and abundance. Jubilee is the idea of perfection made abundant in Jesus, where we follow his example and forgive our neighbors, rest in honor of creation and do away with debts.
Basically what it comes down to is love and forgiveness.
That doesn’t seem so complicated.
So maybe all the confusion surrounding the gospel is just reluctance to accept its simplicity.
If we are continually confused about what the good news is, and in turn, how we should live like Christ, it is a lot easier to act however we want. If we accept the simplicity of the gospel, it creates expectations around how we should be.
But no one ever said faith was easy.
And none of us are perfect, which is why we are already forgiven by Jesus, who was and is a perfect example of living the good news.