Hard as it may be to believe, my four years here at Cedarville are finally coming to a close. Four years filled with late-night Taco Bell runs, hastily written papers, tiny dorm rooms and disastrous intramural dodgeball teams. The greatest four years I could imagine.
This place and these people have meant so much to me and have had an immeasurable impact on my life and future. Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, never take for granted the time you’ve been given here. And never forget the lessons you’ve learned.
One of the biggest impacts Cedarville has had on my life is the encouragement of my spiritual growth. From my first day on campus, the Lord began working in my heart to seek him above all else, to reject indoctrination and to make my faith truly my own. I’ve been faced with so many difficult questions through my Bible classes, various chapel messages and personal experiences here. And I am extremely thankful for this institution’s dedication to presenting the truth of God’s Word and allowing students the freedom to wrestle with tough questions, because sometimes there aren’t easy answers.
As you journey on from here, whether in one week or in four years, I urge you to be a critical and deep thinker. You will be confronted with countless opposing views and beliefs, all claiming to be the truth. If you only rely on the words spoken by your parents, professors or chapel speakers, never having explored the issues yourself, how will you survive spiritually once you are on your own? It’s important to know what you believe, but it’s equally important to know why you believe it. At the end of your exploration, you very well may end up at the same conclusions, but you’ll have the benefit of knowing how you got there and your faith will be that much stronger.
It is true that some leave the faith altogether after they leave this place. They explore and examine what they’ve been taught and conclude that it’s all a hoax, that it’s not worth their time. But the fear of rejecting Christianity should never be an excuse to stop evaluating and questioning.
Perhaps the reason so many people do reject this faith is because they were never given the freedom to ask questions and wrestle with doubt. Please don’t forget that an unexamined belief is a blind faith. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to have doubts. God isn’t bothered by that. As author David Dark says, “Any God who is nervous, defensive or angry in the face of questions is a false god.” The God we serve is big enough to handle any questions or doubts we might have.
But please, in all of your searching and working out your faith with fear and trembling, remember the truth of Scripture. You can question and evaluate and explore options until your brain is on the verge of exploding, but if you reject the truths clearly outlined by God’s Word, you’ll live a misguided life, perhaps blissfully unaware of the consequences.
True Christianity isn’t easy. It’s not comfortable and safe. Faith in Christ demands a radical change and a continual submission to the work of the Holy Spirit. In my own life, I have seen how the Holy Spirit has been working in me, convicting me of incorrect preconceived notions and slowly revealing to me the truths and mysteries of God’s Word. It can be a painful process — after all, dying to yourself doesn’t come naturally. But I promise you it’s worth it. Christ is the ultimate source of joy and hope and purpose. He gave everything for us and he’s worth everything we have.
Regardless of what happens in the years ahead, trust Christ and love him with your entire being. Faith in Christ is not a competition. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s not a feel-good initiative for a carefree life. It’s a lasting relationship, a beautiful and bittersweet journey, a reason to hope and celebrate no matter what comes.