At my university, I’ve been aware of a lot of hate going around for Christians, and in particular, the Christian Union. Every year we have our Mission week; where we have different events, international guests, and give people the opportunity to hear about Jesus. This year, people have found that the CU are apparently being too forceful, pushing the gospel down their throats and preaching when they don’t want to listen. I don’t know how true that statement is. I haven’t been out leafleting with the CU and so I’ve only heard the negative side of things.
The thing is, if you receive some good news – whether it’s about a job or exam result – you want to share it with your friends. And that’s what CU Mission Week is about. We have the good news of Jesus and we want to share it with everyone. We know that some people will respond negatively, and laugh at us or slate us, but we realise that’s something we have to face. I think if everyone just took our leaflets and turned up to the events, and there were no problems, it’d be more worrying. Being a Christian and spreading the good news isn’t that easy. I don’t agree with preaching at people, and forcing the news of Jesus upon them – and I don’t think a lot of people do. It’s not the best way to approach non-Christians, as it often gets them riled up and they don’t want to respond. I choose to talk about my faith and relationship with God openly and if people want to know more, they can ask me. However, if atheists don’t like me because I talk about my faith, then I do have a problem. I’ve not experienced this, but why should I cover up something that is a huge part of my life? People are allowed to talk about hobbies, their loved ones or other interests they have in their life, so why can’t I? Why should I have to hide the fact I go to church, when I don’t have to hide the fact I’m a musician?
I’m not saying all non-Christians respond like this. Most people accept that I’m a Christian, and that talking about my faith, and how it has helped me through different things is acceptable. If people are atheists, I don’t mind them telling me why. I just wouldn’t want it shoved down my throat, and so I try to not shove Christianity down theirs.
Some people have problems with the CU because of their sexuality. In other places, it might be down to their stance on women preachers or their church background. I’m not an expert on these issues, I’m a heterosexual and in a relationship with someone I met through the CU, I agree with women bishops and female ordination but I know others don’t, and there are several different denominations within the Christian church. People often find different Bible verses to support their own stance, however, this shouldn’t separate the Christian church as we should we focus on Christ. The CU isn’t perfect, we’re all humans and we all have our faults. Cliques are prevalent in many settings and, unfortunately, the CU is no exception. I often find the CU clique-y but I’m aware people have their friendship groups – I have mine -however, when my friends aren’t there, it’d be nice to feel included. However, despite that – I love being a part of the CU. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think that just because someone does something, that others diagree with, this shouldn’t exclude them from CU and I don’t think the CU would deliberately do this. There may be disagreements or differences in opinion, but the important thing is that we are all God’s children. Jesus mixed with all – lepers, tax collectors, fishermen, Samaritams – so it’s not right to exclude anyone based upon their differences. It’s not up to us to judge and I genuinely believe that the majority of us don’t. The CU changes committee every year, and maybe sometimes the beliefs of those running the CU disagree with homosexuality more than other years.
I’m not going to start arguing about what I believe, and whether others think my opinion is right or wrong, my knowledge of the Bible isn’t so great, and I can’t use God’s word to support any point I make. That’s not what this post is about.
To non-Christians, in Aberystwyth and elsewhere: We just want to share our good news. If you don’t like it, fine. But don’t slate us for it. We’re not preaching at you on the concourse, we’re giving out leaflets. There is a difference. Maybe some of the CU have been pushy, but if you’re not interested, just tell us no. Don’t get irate about it. I don’t complain when I go to the Fresher’s Fair to sign up for something and get bombarded by Women’s Rugby or the Atheist Society.
To Christians who feel they’ve been hurt by the CU and what it does: It’s not deliberate. We all have our beliefs and there are some things I agree with, that other members of the CU don’t. But, I’m aware that we all come from different backgrounds (some Christian, some non-Christian) and that we do have varying stances on some matters. However, we all love Jesus and want to share the news about him. That’s the important thing. It’s about putting aside our differences and working together. I’m not saying that the CU have been perfect throughout everything, and I’m not saying everything is your fault. There’s a balance, and in some instances, it’s been knocked one way or the other. It’s important to try and get that balance back, and focus on the fact that the CU is there for all Christian students who want to spend time praising Jesus, listening to speakers and sharing the good news that we have.
To the CU: I love being a part of you. As I’ve said several times, you’re not perfect, but then, who is? (Apart from the obvious). I don’t know all of the goings on, and that’s fair enough. I feel bad that people associate me with a CU that apparently shoves Christianity down their throats, when I know that isn’t true. I know that the CU has a great environment, and that people often react negatively because they don’t want to hear about Jesus. We’re doing the right thing through Mission Week, and giving people the chance to know Jesus. We need to make sure that Jesus is at the heart of all our work, and that rather than being separated by our differences, we focus on the fact that we all love Jesus and focus on this unity between us.
So yeah, I’m a Christian everyone, and I’m part of Aberystwyth’s Christian Union. If you choose to not be my friend now, because you’re assuming that I’m part of something that you hate, then so be it. Being a Christian and being a part of CU doesn’t mean we want to shove Christianity down your throats. It gives you the option to know more if you want to. We just leaflet and announce our events in lectures (I know there were people who were muttering under their breath) so that everyone has the opportunity to come and listen if they wish. There is no gospel preaching, or telling you that you MUST become a Christian. There is no expectation that you MUST renounce your differences, or hide them, that isn’t what being a Christian is about. Our main focus as Christians is that we all love God, and because of this we want to share our faith with others. Take the chance to get to know one of us, and maybe you’ll discover we’re not all bad. Or even any of us.