In my experience, Christian freshman that come to large state universities most often come with what I call a “retreat mentality.” Since their schools are viewed as large party schools, they are advised by well-meaning parents, friends, and youth pastors to be careful not to get involved with the wrong crowd or fall prey new temptations they will face. There is nothing wrong with the advice in and of itself, but I believe it is incomplete advice.
A more complete exhortation to incoming freshman should also include an admonition to be a witness for Jesus among their classmates, dorm-mates, and new friends. Freshman should not be encouraged to simply avoid temptation. They should be encouraged to make a difference in the lives of others. For the following reasons, Christians should be challenged to come to campus with an “advancement mentality.”
It’s a Promise
Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). Gates are a defensive measure meant to stop an enemy. It’s the enemy that is on defense. Yet, somehow, we convince students to simply find a church and hunker down so that after college their faith is still alive. This is an unbiblical viewpoint. Jesus promised that the church would be on offense, defeating the enemy and taking his ground. Freshman should expect to be used by God to change the lives of the new friends they will meet on campus.
It’s a Prayer
Jesus prayed that his disciples would not be taken from the world, but would be protected from the evil one (John 17:15). Then he prayed, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:18).” He did not want them to leave the world or separate themselves from the world. Rather, He wanted them to be sent into the world just as he was sent into the world. Jesus left “The Holy Huddle” to dwell with sinful men and call them back to God. This is Jesus prayer for freshman too. He is sending them from their “holy huddle” to a lost campus to bring students back to God.
It’s a Preparation
Tomorrow’s politicians, educators, CEOs, parents, professional athletes, entertainers, activists, missionaries, and innovators come from our universities. What would happen if generation after generation of students graduated having earned their specific degree, but also having learned how to live on mission with Jesus in their sphere of influence? Cities and countries would transformed, because each year we would graduate thousands and thousands of missionaries who know how to live on mission in the marketplace and neighborhoods. College can be more than career training. It can be a missionary training, preparing students to impact businesses and neighborhoods around the world.
Vern11 years ago
Have you done actual word study on Matthew 16:18? I have often thought if the angle you present was the right understanding? That is “gates” being defensive rather than offensive. However, we have to understand the scriptures in the language and time they were written rather than in current understanding and usage of words. As best I’ve been able to determine, the gates represented the power of a kingdom and thus the church is under attack from evil powers. I don’t understand that to mean that we should just hunker down, and have a bunker mentality, but I still wonder what the proper understanding of the term “gates of hades” is? If you can share the fruit of your study, it would at least be helpful to me if no one else. Thanks.
Justin Christopher11 years ago
Thanks for commenting Vern. I understand Gates at the time to be what protected a nation/people. Walls and gates were the primary perimeter to keep out the enemy. Once an enemy breaks through the gates, they win the battle. I think of the walls of Jericho falling, Nehemiah rebuilding the wall, and the new heaven/earth being described as a place where the gates are always open(meaning there is not enemy).
So the gates of Hell or Hades are the perimeter around the enemy’s ground and the Church will advance beyond them to recapture/redeem all that is in the enemy’s camp.
That said, I also like the thoughts these blogs that have a slightly different view.
Vern11 years ago
Thanks Justin. Those links were helpful. The story about the Nigerian pastor was especially touching.
I went ahead and consulted some of my older resources, and this is what I found there.
Vines – of the gates of Hades, Matt. 16:18, than which nothing was regarded as stronger. The importance and strength of gates made them viewed as synonymous with power. By metonymy, the gates stood for those who held government and administered justice there.
Vincent – The expression Gates of Hades is an orientalism for the court, throne, power, and dignity of the internal kingdom. Hades is contemplated as a mighty city, with formidable, frowning portals. Some expositors also introduce the idea of the councils of the Satanic powers, with reference to the Eastern custom of holding such deliberations in the gates of cities. … The kingdom or city of Hades confronts and assaults the church which Christ will build upon the rock. See Job 38:17; Psa. 9:13; 107:18; Isa. 38:10.
Alford – The gates of hell (Hades), by a well-known Oriental form of speech, is equivalent to the power of the kingdom of death. The form is still preserved when the Turkish empire is known as “the Ottoman Porte.” This promise received in remarkable literal fulfillment in the person of Peter in Acts 12:6-18, see especially verse 10. The meaning of the promise is , that over the Church so built upon him who was by the strength of that confession the Rock, no adverse power should ever prevail to extinguish it.
Anyway, your point is well taken. Thanks for the fellowship.
Justin Christopher11 years ago
Thanks again for commenting. We enjoy the conversations.