My name is Phil Ross, and I’m a senior Christian Ministries major at IWU and a four-year member of the JWHC. I’m writing to you today about a seemingly simple and yet absolutely beautiful fact of life that we often don’t reflect on as Christians.
You – yes, you! – are a beloved child of God!
Now, before you say, “Oh I’ve heard that before,” hold on. If we truly believe that we were created in the image of God and that we are loved by Him no matter what, that means something! It means that we are to live life differently from everyone who doesn’t believe such a thing. We’re not doing it to draw attention, but because we have good reason to!
One of my favorite books is Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. In it, he says, “When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant.” So just what does it mean to shine brightly, then? Nouwen describes four things that are constantly happening to us as we live out our belovedness.
First, we are taken, chosen by God.
Second, we are blessed. This means we affirm others and are affirmed by others of the presence of Christ in us as he shines through all we think, say, and do.
Third, we are broken. The many ways in which each of us are broken express who we are as individuals. Whether it’s a broken heart, a broken body, or a broken soul, “The great spiritual call of the Beloved Children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the blessing.”
The blessing is not being alone – we have each other! Our brokenness can be dealt with in community. As you’re coming into the Honors College, one thing you’ll learn throughout your first year is the impact of the friendships you’ll make. You’ll become close with your classmates, and there will be many opportunities to grow deeper in your relationships with them.
These relationships can be used for God to bring about some beautiful things in your life. Take advantage of your friendships here, and keep on nurturing both those ones and starting new ones with people you meet elsewhere on campus!
We are so blessed, and even more, we are given. Being given means that all of our brokenness and personhood exist for God’s glory. Our lives – everything we do, which for us includes using our words, minds, hearts, and all else – are to be given to each other and God for blessing those we encounter and to bring about his kingdom.
So keep being incredibly clever, brilliant, and beautiful; pour yourselves out for the Lord and trust in him! And know that he intends for you to be transformed and encouraged through the friendships you’ll soon find yourselves in, speaking his love to you through the mouths of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
In closing, let me leave you with a summarizing verse that encapsulates this final thought: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).