Thoughts of a geek

21 November 2007

Student Leadership Conference

Filed under: Christianity, Me — qwandor @ 9:26 pm

I spent the last week (Monday 12th November — Sunday 18th November) at SLC, the Student Leadership Conference run each summer by New Zealand’s Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship. It was a great opportunity to take some time out both to study the bible and to consider the application of it to life in general and on campus. We had a mixture of talks and discussions in various groups.

A large part of this year’s SLC was focused around the book of Nehemiah, an old-testament leader who led the Israelites in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after their return from exile in Babylon.

One thing that particularly stood out to me from the conference was the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

There can be a tendency to think of God as described in the Old Testament as judgmental and legalistic, while the God of the New Testament shows grace, love and forgiveness. This is not really true, however. God’s character remains constant: in the Old Testament as in the new he shows his grace time and time again.

Much of the OT, in fact, is about a cycle of Israel rebelling against God (often worshiping idols instead), God sending prophets to warn them, the prophets being largely ignored, and Israel finally losing God’s blessing and being conquered by their enemies (and often taken into exile and slavery). God then hears the prayers of the few remaining righteous, and grants grace to his people while they are still in rebellion. He then gathers them back to their land and himself, and they repent and turn back to him. They are then blessed and celebrate God’s blessing and provision. After a time, the cycle repeats.

The point here is that God restores his people undeservedly. While they are still in rebellion against him he sends leaders such as Nehemiah to bring them back to him, and blesses them generously.

This pattern is then fulfilled ultimately in Jesus, who is not so much a change in God’s actions towards his people but a final and perfect way of bringing them back to him. Jesus is not just a man like the earlier saviours and kings of Israel (although he is also a man), and does not turn away from and rebel against God as even Israel’s greatest king — Solomon — eventually did. Instead, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience and service to God. He then once more went further than his predecessors in choosing to die to take the punishment deserved by everyone but him.

While I guess I knew all this already in a way, I certainly thought more about it and gained a better understanding.

On a less serious note, yomcat also got and then later lost a mullet. He looks rather unhappy, especially in the second photo.

Andy Shudall has also blogged about SLC, in case you want to read more.

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