Open hours, chapel requirements and alcohol have always been hot topics at Vanguard University, but sometimes these touchy topics are worth revisiting. Every now and then, it is important to reflect on the way things are and why we perceive them the way that we do. We must remind ourselves of why we stand for what we do or else our perception, especially towards controversial topics, becomes silently off-centered. As a senior with less than a week from graduation, I feel there is no better time than now to address the issues which have plagued this community with confusion for as long as I can remember.
When I first visited Vanguard, as a senior in high school, I asked my group leader what the party scene was like. He shrugged, attempted a sheepish smile and informed me that some groups at VU “still party.” Four years later, I would say that little has changed. But if I can impart any wisdom to newcomers, it is to consider Joshua 24: 14-15, which says to “choose today whom you will serve.”
Rules are difficult to change and so are other people’s attitudes, but our own attitudes are one of the few things that we ourselves have complete control over. Thank God. So whether or not you enjoy going to mandated chapels, adhering to open hours or not getting a drink with your dinner, the issue is always the same: integrity.
At the heart of any disagreement is the motive. What may appear to be a small tip of sin may turn out to be the peak of a mammoth iceberg beneath the surface. God looks at the heart. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that the heart is the wellspring of life. Anyone trying to live a great lifestyle should therefore take Joshua’s words deep into mind. For an infected well makes for a contaminated life.
There may be a million brilliant reasons for someone to break contract, however, as long as the contract is broken, no such action can be justified. For what good is it to exercise one’s independence by compromising their own word? This the nature of the grey spaces of our faith. Whereas objects and situations that are not inherently wrong may be used improperly and therefore result in wrong doing. God has not given us amazing grace and the freedom of choice for us to abuse it, though He allows us to anyway. He has allowed these morally grey areas to bless us in the hopes that we would steward the opportunity well. Our responsibility to steward God’s gifts extends into the material world.
Jesus first miracle was turning approximately 150 gallons of water into wine, but the miracle itself was not particularly about the object created, but what it represented. It was a tremendous blessing poured out on undeserved receivers. One could say Jesus is not against people drinking, He is against choices that compromise who we are.
At Vanguard, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Things are expected of students that some would find absurd at most other universities. But this reality should never become a justification for soul-sucking behavior. For at the end of the day, your word is all you have.
The Bible says powerful things about words. In the beginning, God used words to speak all of creation into life. Moreover, John 1:1 tells us that word was God–which presents a profound idea that we will space to get into within this article. In Isaiah 55:11, we learn that God’s word does not return to him until it has completed what it was sent to do. Likewise, as humans who have been created in God’s image, by his words, we must uphold what we say with what we do. Before anyone is admitted to this institution, we are asked to sign the student contract. And whatever disagreement you may have with any of its clauses are instantly void with the signing of your name. From that point on, your lifestyle should adjust accordingly. Paramount to the legality of a contract, the Biblical understanding of words and their connection to the human soul should be the greatest motivator in respecting the lines that are drawn at Vanguard.
Lines are good. I would venture to say that the essence of lines is the first thing God created when he spoke light into existence and instantly separated it from the darkness. It was because God drew the first line between matter that life proceeded. From the formless void, God created order with the use of boundaries. He continued creating in this way, distinguishing the dry land from the waters all while he observed that it was good. This reality is the same today as it was in the beginning. In a society which continues to blur its boundaries—from our boarders to sexual expressions—Vanguard is one of few institutions maintaining what it stands for. In a continually formless society, Vanguard is a place that has decided what shape it takes.
For some of us, this rigidity is easy to abide by. Still others struggle to surrender in the grey margins of Christian living. In such cases, I would like to point out that people do not need to agree with all the rules expected of them. However, as Christians, God trusts us to submit to authority regardless. Whatever the case, as long as someone’s name is on the contract, individual opinion must submit to the lines of our institution. To do so otherwise, is less about tangible consequences and more about the damage that is caused to the soul of the individual and the of our University. If for nothing else, Vanguard’s student contract should be upheld for the strengthening of our community’s integrity.