Intervarsity Christian Fellowship meetings have always been open to any student interested in finding out what Christianity is all about. No one is barred. Nothing is hidden. No one is forced to come and listen or take part in this gathering. No one is coerced. Yet, the California State University system has closed its campuses to this group. Why? Because the college system demanded IVCF open itself to non-Christian leadership.
The CSU decision didn’t surprise me. I live in a county where 97% of the population is unchurched. I don’t know what the statistics are for the rest of the state of California, but at a guess, I would say about the same. The Christian foundations of America are being systematically removed, history revised. A lie told often enough is believed. The battle cry is “separation of church and state”, which is a text out of context made into a pretext being used to remove Christianity from every public forum.
This is just the beginning of what may come, but we don’t need to fear our changing culture. We have an unchanging God who walks with us through whatever trials may come. No matter how the world views Jesus, God is still on the throne. He still loves us. He still points the way to salvation through the Son He sent to build the bridge home to Him. The Gospel still rings out loud and true. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, took all our sins upon Himself, died on the cross and rose again. Someday he’ll come back, too. What we believe about Jesus determines where we spend eternity.
Perhaps life has been too easy for Christians in America. Instead of being salt and light, we have blended in and swallowed the lies. It is not intolerant and unloving to say Jesus is the only way to heaven. On the contrary, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It is intolerable and cruel to say, “You’re a nice person and you’ll be fine. When we die, we’ll all end up in the same place.” It is a lie with eternal consequences.
The rule to prevent discrimination is discrimination. Non-Christian leaders of a Christian group won’t tell the truth about Jesus because they don’t know the truth. They don’t know Him.
Of course, these new state rules are intended to stifle Christians, to silence the message of the Gospel. I think this situation will challenge us to be more creative. There are countless stories of believers who live under persecution, who are giving up everything and dying for their faith, right now, in countries around the world. Our lives are not yet on the line. We can still exercise our freedom of speech and freedom to worship, even on campus. Students who believe and follow Jesus can have Bible studies in their dorm rooms or in the student union or wherever they choose. They can share their faith journey openly. They can walk the walk and talk the talk, and let their light shine on the darkest campuses across our nation. Let’s all pray they do, and encourage them in any way we can.
It is a paradox, but persecution helps spread the Gospel. It’s when life is too easy that the message gets lost.