16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith… (Romans 1:16)
I’d just witnessed a miracle. I’d shared the gospel story and asked Jane if she wanted to become a follower of Jesus. The confusion and angst that had hung on her face relaxed. She looked up. “Yes,” she said.
What had happened? One minute Jane was peppering me with questions, wrestling with the gospel story. The next minute she believed. Over time she would come to be baptized, join the community, and share her story with others.
The power that brings freedom
Paul says that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. The word literally means deliverance, release, or preservation. The faith that began to rise up in Jane as she heard the gospel story and believed is a sign of salvation. The gospel we proclaim is the power for salvation. What is salvation anyway, and why do we need it?
Paul describes the problem in Romans 1:18 – 32. We do not live in truth and harmony with the world and one another because of our idolatry. When we put ourselves, or any other created thing, in the place of God the result is personal, social, and spiritual disintegration. Despite the fact that we all experience the deception, destruction, and disintegration that stems from our idolatry, we’re trapped in a closed system. Even knowing it’s wrong… we’re stuck. “They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”
Salvation describes God breaking into this closed system and setting people free. Those who hear and respond to the call of the gospel become free from the prison of idolatry, deception, spiritual, and moral disintegration. Those who hear and respond to the gospel are set free for the liberating and humanizing purposes of God in the world. God’s good news sets people free, restores right worship, and sends them to work for the liberation of others.
What does freedom look like?
Freedom is a big deal on campus. And yet, the truth is that most people on campus aren’t free. Students are under tremendous pressure to succeed socially and academically. Celebrating freedom looks at first like the big freshman (or frat) party, but quickly disintegrates into the hangover of isolation, anxiety, dislocation, and despair. Faculty promotes free thought and study, but are themselves subject to huge pressure to perform, publish, and gain popularity. Our mission field has placed all kinds of things in the place of God and is locked in a rapidly disintegrating web.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation…”
What if communities of truly free people started growing all over campus? What if the distinguishing characteristic of our witness was freedom? What if our passion for proclaiming the message about Jesus was rooted in the true freedom we experienced and longed to pass on to others?
God’s gospel is the power for salvation for your campus. Will you celebrate it and share it? When we do, we witness miracles.
Question: What kinds of freedom do you long to see people experience on campus? Share your thoughts in the comments.