Blessed Be the Tie
Sixteen years ago, I graduated from Pepperdine University somewhat disillusioned. My beloved alma mater seemed to be trying too hard to be cool, and I didn’t want to be cool.
…I want to be part of an un-cool church because I want to be part of a community that shares the reputation of Jesus, and like it or not, Jesus’ favorite people in the world were not cool. They were mostly sinners, misfits, outcasts, weirdos, poor people, sick people, and crazy people.
Some of us wear our brokenness on the inside, others on the outside.
But we’re all broken.
We’re all un-cool.
We’re all in need of a Savior.
Blessed Are the Uncool, by Rachel Held Evans
Since then, when parents have asked me “Should I send my child to Pepperdine?” my answer was careful. It depends…
How sure are you of your child’s ability to withstand peer pressure? To make right choices and choose to be around good friends and supportive adults? There were so many ways to go astray, it seemed, back then.
Fifteen years went by before I went back to spend any significant time on campus. Last year, I attended the Bible Lectures – a gathering of Church of Christ Christians from all over the world. Still, the tenor of the week was not what I expected. So many still held tight to tradition for the sake of tradition.
I’ve struggled with my Church of Christ DNA for a while now. I’m embarrassed by their legalism. I’m embarrassed by the in-fighting, the church-splits, and the “don’t ask questions” policy. I’ve come to love instrumentally-led worship, and I’ve been frustrated with the slowness that this has been accepted by our denomination-that’s-not-one. Jaded, I preferred “new music” to old hymns, thinking myself too modern for the old tunes.
It is Thursday night as I write, the second-to-the-last day of the Pepperdine Bible Lectures and once again, we are here, and I am undone.
What I have seen this week has warmed my soul. My beloved alma mater has renewed their emphasis on spiritual life, evidenced by the extraordinary students I’ve run into this week, working, and even speaking, at these lectures. If there was a chaplain while I was a student, I have no idea who that person was. Now there are several of them, and they are there, on the ground, in the cafeteria, and they care. They live and they breathe and they serve.
Each dorm now has a Spiritual Life Adviser, an upper clansman there for the express purpose of meeting the spiritual needs of the freshman and sophomores in the dorms. So many other changes – no longer pursuing cool, but pursuing Christ.
The Lectures, too, have a different timbre this year. Prophets and preachers, begging for unity not division. A belief in Christ, not customs. Salvation, not denomination. Restoration…again.
I sat in the theatre today and wept, as the four-part A capella harmonies soared into the rafters; the old hymns, the ancient words, ever true, tying the thousands of us together in a way that I have longed for, but never believed would ever happen.
The poetry of these hymns has been lost on me for too long. Today, I listened – really listened – and the words, oh, the exquisite and beautiful words…
Tonight, I am proud of my church. I am proud of my ancestors, for the journey they began at Cane Ridge so many years ago. We lost our way, I think, for a while there, but it seems like we are finding our way back.
I am proud of the men and women of this church who preach the gospel at all times in their daily life, and occasionally, do so with profound and wise words.
We leave for home tomorrow. Obligations await, and already I am in mourning for we are not able to be here next year. The week coincides with 4th grade 49er camp (miners, not football), and it’s just not going to work.
But I am already dreaming of PBL14. Until then, blessed be the tie that binds me to this movement, this restorational church. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.