Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Back to the Cross
It is not easy gathering people from all over New Zealand. It took ten hours for the family to travel to Auckland for TSCF's National Conference. Nigel is speaking on Tuesday and Saturday but are all here and will be having some holiday in the Bay of Islands next week."Back to the Cross" is the theme this year. Over the course of this week over 200 people will gather including students from every major centre in New Zealand and over 50 graduates from different generations at the weekend. I am really encouraged by the numbers and by the quality of students who are here. This has the potential to be a hugely significant event in the life of TSCF. It is the 70th anniversary of the first conference, chaired by John Laird, which founded the student ministry which is TSCF today.
What would this first generation make of the student world of today?
In "Dead Poets Society", Robin Williams teacher character takes the boys in his new class to look at old photographs of those who have gone before. He asks what they are saying and the answer is "Carpe Diem - Seize the Day". This is the message he preaches with positive and negative consequences.
I don't have to entirely imagine what the people in my old photographs would say. I have in my office letters from some of them. One written in spindly script is particularly clear.
“If I could get students of today into a room I think the one thing I would tell them is to cling to the cross. I began to understand the importance of the cross at my first inter varsity conference it has taken me a lifetime to begin to appreciate its meaning. So I would say to todays students, come to the cross, humble yourselves at the cross, seek to grow in your understanding of the cross, proclaim the cross boldly, never grow tired of taking up the cross or talking of the cross. The cross is at the very centre of all we believe, all we do and all we are”
So at this moment in history we focus again on the cross. Not because of tradition but because of conviction. The same core conviction that has fired every generation of TSCF students to stand for Christ, share the good news, apply the bible to life and live with integrity. Particulary encouraging is the variety of ethinicities and cultures represented here. Do pray that these diverse groups might be a united witness and that as we give thanks for the past, we would lay good foundations for the future.
There are not many in that first conference picture yet in God's grace they started something which from small beginnings has shaped the nation and whose influence has extended far beyond these shores. There were fewer still in the immediate aftermath of the cross and resurrection, yet in God's providence their impact shook the world and continues to shape human history. It's foolishness really to believe that God can work a new work in this generation. But that's why our focus is...back to the cross.