A three-part Chapel series on living in community with our differences calls students to unite
Chapel on Wednesday morning is an important component of Redeemer’s curriculum. Chapel is a time where students and staff worship God with our voices and instruments, but also a time where we can listen and learn about God’s world and plan for us as outlined in his Word, the Bible. Often, we have guest speakers who delve into topics to help us understand something of relevance to us today. This fall, we focused on civil discourse in a three-part series. How do we disagree with different people and even learn from those we disagree with?
Retired Redeemer teacher, Mr. Vincent Marquis, introduced the series by talking about when you have differences with other Christians. He touched on the early church, the number of different denominations represented in the assembly, as well as the differences we argue about among Christians—minor differences like what kind of décor to put in a church to major differences like views on the Bible or baptism.
Marquis reminded us that Jesus started one church and that with our differences, “we have created an impression among non-Christians that Christians are really very quarrelsome, judgmental people they don’t want to become part of.” To get past this negative impression and image Christianity has “out there” in the culture, Marquis quoted a few Bible passages, including Proverbs 15:1—”A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Marquis told Redeemer students we need to make things right in the church first. If we want to change the church’s level of respect in our culture, “there has to be confession, healing, reconciliation, changing hearts and attitudes, and accepting people where they are. It doesn’t mean accepting all they do as the best thing. It doesn’t mean accepting everything they believe about stuff we don’t agree about as right.” He encouraged us to “see other Christians as brothers and sisters in God’s great big family and loving them even with their quirks and foibles and some wrong ways of thinking and doing some things, as we might see it.”
Our second speaker, University of Ottawa Campus Chaplin, Pastor Sid Ypma, spoke on learning from non-believers. What is our posture towards the people around us? He told three stories about non-believers he learned important lessons from. Ypma spoke from Romans 2:14-16, where Paul explicitly tells the believers that they are no better than Gentiles and that when Gentiles instinctively do what is right, they are proclaiming the goodness of God.
We have things to learn from those that don’t yet acknowledge Christ. Ypma challenged us to “look for God’s work in the world and God’s gifts in others, whether or not they are Christians.”
Former Redeemer alumnus and staff member for Power to Change at Carleton University, Matthijs Trouborst, concluded the Chapel series by calling students to be God’s ambassadors in a spirit of humility. He said, “the Gospel is the foundation for how we can disagree with those around us.” Trouborst gave practical tips from the Bible about seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, Proverbs 18:2, and about learning to ask good questions, James 1:19. He also emphasized the importance of finding common ground, being honest, having integrity and realizing that change takes time. Trouborst reminded us that “it is not our jobs to change people’s mind, it’s God’s, and we need to trust in him.”