24 Nov UESI Diamond Jubilee Pledges
A brief commentary
This brief commentary is meant to provide the context in which we, in the UESI family, can better understand and implement the 7 pledges as we enter the 7th decade of our existence by the grace of God. In writing this document, Our Vision and Our Mission (which are part of the preamble) are kept in view. The UESI is a family of students and graduates of tertiary institutions in our country, who have the privilege of having had education to a level to which the rest of our fellow-Indians have no access. This is part of the gift of God to us and therefore entails certain responsibilities. Thus, there are necessary references to serving ‘society’ and ‘nation’ and these larger goals should not be lost sight of. As Christian students and graduates, this larger vision will also keep us from making an un-Biblical distinction between the secular and the sacred, considering the whole of reality as the creation of God and our role in it as stewardesses and stewards on His behalf. This vision will also help us to see ourselves, in the words of an earlier Christian, as ‘a society that exists for the benefit of its non-members’.
With deep gratitude to God for His faithfulness, we as UESI, a community of Christ’s disciples, reaffirm our commitment to
• Our Vision – Transformed students impacting the campuses and the nation as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
• Our Mission – that we seek to evangelize the post matric students in India, nurturing them as disciples of Christ who will serve the Church and Society:
And so we pledge:
1. That we will strive to achieve our vision as one family in Christ, fostering fellowship through interdependent partnership with one another by prayer and whole-hearted support as befitting the body of Christ;
From the time God called Abraham (Gen.12:1-3), He was interested in forming communities; this is because He created us as a man-woman community (Gen.1:26,27) and His Son said that He would build His Church (Matt.16:18); the existence of a community reflects the Being of the Triune God. At our existential level, the community keeps us from becoming either totally independent of one another or totally dependent on others but develops us as inter-dependent persons, giving to and receiving from one another as befitting those who are disciples of Christ (John 13:34,35).
2. That we will strive to be a faithful community embodying sacrificial living and sacrificial giving as students, graduates and staff, continually offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him;
The English word ‘sacrifice’ is a strong word that strictly applies only to Christ’s giving up of Himself on the cross. All that we do in response to that act of Christ is only a ‘sacrifice’ in a much weaker sense (Rom.12:1,2). The phrase ‘living sacrifice’ is an oxymoron – a verbal paradox – because a sacrifice becomes one only when it dies. In this case, however, the Lord gives back to us what we yield to Him – our bodies and minds – in order to be available for His purposes. Thus we participate in a truly spiritual sacrifice which involves what is material – our bodies, our money, our time. God, who is Spirit created the heavens and the earth, which are matter (Gen.1:1). He took matter and breathed into it His own breath to create the first human being (Gen.2:7). We are the only beings in God’s creation who are a combination of the spiritual and the material; God, the Son, in becoming the human Jesus, has put His seal of sanction on material reality by being raised from the dead in a glorified physical body. Christians therefore do not believe in a spirituality which is non-material, ethereal and illusory but involves the physical; the New Testament often refers to holy living as living the resurrection life of Jesus in the physical body. The same applies to our use of time and of money; it should be noted we express this attitude to God by giving our time, money and energy in the service of others both inside and outside the body of believers.
3. That we will place the Lord’s mission as our only priority and will continually integrate our lives with His mission, seeking His placements in t[H]is world as His people for His redemptive purposes, whatever they may be and wherever the Lord sends us to fulfil them;
We tend to think of God’s Mission as the Great Commission (Matt.28:18-20).We should not divorce this Commission from the First Commandment- often called ‘Cultural Mandate’ (Gen.1:28). We need to see the Great Commission as a sub-set of the First Commandment, recognizing the fact that the redemptive work of Christ is not only for humans beings but of all creation (Col.1:19,20). When our first parents rebelled against God (Gen.3), the resulting fall also affected the whole of creation so that Paul could speak of creation groaning as it waits for the redemption of the children of God (Rom.8:19-22). That is the reason that God’s revelation in Scripture begins with the present creation (Gen.1,2) and ends with the new creation (Rev.21,22). As already stated, we are God’s representatives to steward His creation and our involvement both in evangelism and in every other legitimate aspect of involvement in God’s world would therefore include work in all aspects of life; this pledge is to commit ourselves to do what the Lord commands us to do. We thus see the commandments in Gen.1 and Matt.28 as continuous with one another and not as the latter superseding the former. The good news as announced by the Lord Jesus – Mark 1:14,15 – is the nearness of the coming of the Kingdom of God (the rule of God) in all aspects of life and covering every aspect of mission in any part of the world to which God would call us.
4. That we will vouch for the utter reliability of the 66 books of the Bible for the entire period of our future existence, and will sincerely make efforts to study the entire Scripture in order to capture God’s big picture for humankind, honestly engaging the scripture for all walks of life, so that our lives will be transformed and be made part of His Story;
As we commit ourselves to study the Bible from cover to cover, we will come to recognize that it is more than a compendium of moral principles – it is a narrative that begins with God creating the whole universe and concludes – should we say, continues – with the renewal of the whole creation. With human rebellion, God’s plan of salvation is not just in principles but in His decision to enter the human story. This He does by choosing a man, Abraham, through Him the nation called Israel, through them a king called David and as one of his descendants, God sends His own Son in the very human Person of Jesus. Thus the genealogy of Jesus in Matt.1 is not just to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus but to emphasize the fact that God has made human history as part of His story. When we come to Christ through the new birth, we are spiritually part of the new creation (II Cor.5:17) and the resurrection of Jesus forms the centerpiece of human story; it is the inauguration of new creation in the physical realm as well. Our stories – fellowship as John puts it in I John 1:1-3 – become part of the story of the Triune God, knit together with the Father and Son (through the Holy Spirit). Our engagement with Scripture is actually to indwell the Scripture and in its pages encounter Christ through the Spirit; it is this confrontation that transforms us to be conformed to the image of Christ (II Cor.3:18). Thus we are not reading a book but encountering a Person. The utter reliability of Scripture (II Tim 3:16; II Pet.1:21) lies in the fact that the Bible is more than a book of reliable information but actually enables us encounter the Person of Christ. All religions have holy books that provide moral principles and at that level, all religions do look similar. But it is only in the Christian faith a BOOK and a PERSON are both called the Word of God. “The authority of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures stand or fall together” – John Stott.
5. That we, as transformed students and graduates, will continue to pursue the Lordship of Jesus Christ in Universities as His call to study, seeking His mission in the disciplines that concerns us, and in all the fields of legitimate work to which God would call us;
Following from the previous pledge, it should be recognized that the Bible is not just a religious book but one that covers all of reality. Christian students should recognize that in their studies they are carrying out one aspect of obedience to the first commandment; graduates in their employment and in their home-making are carrying out a similar obedience in another aspect of their lives. In the Messianic Proverbs 8, Wisdom personified is referred to as the One who was crafting the universe alongside Jehovah not very differently from John 1:3 and Hebrews 1:2; those of us who are students are thus studying the workmanship of the Master-craftsman, whether our fields of study are pure and applied sciences, humanities, literature or fine arts. The pursuit of any of these disciplines can be made to reflect the creative image of God in us. In our fields of work, we should realize that we are obeying the commandment God gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen.2:15); the two Hebrew words translated in the NIV as ‘to work’ and ‘to take care of’ are respectively AVAD and SHAMAR; these words are also used in the Old Testament for the service of God and the keeping of His commandments! Thus, in the Jewish mind, there was no distinction between the worship of God and working in His world. We ought not to create a Christian caste-system by making an un-Biblical division between the sacred and the secular. Like Daniel, in his work we cannot be corrupt or negligent (Dan.6:4), but instead be competent and honest by the grace and help of God.
– to be Continued
Mr. LT Jeyachandran served 28 years with the central government as a senior civil engineer.After taking early retirement he served with RZIM 19 years.He lives in pune with his wife Esther. They are blessed with two children and four grand children