University life holds many distractions for Christians. Even things that may be blessings or opportunities can readily become our idols.
I have certainly fallen short many times. Personal ambition (or fortune) is only one example – sadly all too common among Christian medics. Someone at my church remarked at housegroup that Christians should never be as driven as their non-believing colleagues, because our reward is not material riches, but the gift of eternal life: that is our goal; nothing else really matters. She is right. Tom Yates, a Birmingham student, shares with us his difficulties at university (pp8,9), where he began to put other things before God; he writes of the lessons he learnt from his mistakes.
So what does matter? Ambition not for a selfish motive, but for God. The prophet Isaiah is a great example to follow. When God posed the question of whom to send to the Israelites, Isaiah was ready: ‘Here am I. Send me!’ (Is 6:8). Equally, as our Lord Jesus says, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4). It is the second part of the phrase that we forget, much to our detriment. The key, surely, to putting him before other things is to listen to what he says. Jeremy Franklin, CMF Pastoral Secretary, suggests a way that would help us do just this: he calls us to memorise Scripture, so that we are better equipped to employ God’s Word in our lives (pp31-37).
As we become clearer on God’s Word, we’re more able to discern God’s moral will, and do what is best (Phil 1:9,10). However, God’s will is seldom congruous with what man wants for himself. Jacky Engel takes us to the world of modern medicine, which is becoming more morally liberal, and examines the well thought-out concept of ‘conscientious objection’ – where doctors can, in theory, refuse to take part in procedures when they have reasonable contrarian beliefs – or is the principle really so simple? (pp15-24).Looking ahead, this will be the last chance (before it’s too late) for me to recommend the highlight of our academic year: the CMF national students’ conference on 10-12 February 2006. Another year, another excellent range of stimulating speakers – see p42 for details. Do read Hugh Ip’s report of last year’s conference in the April 2005 journal, from your own copy (pp5,6) or online, at www.cmf.org.uk.