Incarnation believes God is already at work in the lives of millions of college students who do not yet personally know God. They are passionate about things that are close to God’s heart, but they don’t know it. They don’t know that their activism, academic interests, dreams for business careers, love for the arts or so many other passions are closely connected to things about which God cares very deeply. They don’t know this because nobody is telling them.
Incarnation will train our students to share not only their faith, but also their lives with their non-Christian peers (1 Thessalonians 2:8). We will invite our students to learn from what God is already doing around them in their areas of study and extracurricular activities and to bear witness to those around them about what God is doing, while also creating the structures to help anchor students in Christian community and their relationship with Christ.
This approach is modeled for us in the Gospel of John’s description of the Incarnation of Christ. Where most leaders in the religious establishment of his day feared that engaging secular Greek philosophy would lead people astray, the Gospel’s author confidently explores where God was already at work in it. As he describes Christ as the Word that was God, become flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14), and as the light that shone into darkness and was not overcome by darkness (John 1:4-5), the author appeals to two concepts that were central to Greek philosophy: logos (the Word) and photos (the light).
Through this effort, John not only appealed to Greek philosophy, but also brought Christ’s redemption to two central principles of Greek philosophy by weaving them into one of the most significant moments in history, the Incarnation of Christ. Additionally, our understanding of the life, death and resurrection of Christ was enhanced by John’s dialogue with what God was already doing in secular Greek philosophy. As a result, both Greek philosophy and our understanding of Christ were brought closer to reflecting more fully God’s image.
In addition to inviting students to consider and bear witness to how God is already at work around them, Incarnation Ministries also hopes to model John’s approach as we take a renewed approach to multi-ethnic ministry and create an LGBTQ-inclusive ministry. We recognize that campus institutions such as ethnic and LGBTQ student groups, ethnic or LGBTQ studies departments or multicultural student affairs offices have been engaging marginalized students far longer than we have. We need to dialogue with them to develop best practices for providing pastoral care to students who often feel marginalized on their campuses and by the Church. Through this, we can also learn what our chapters can offer the students in their organizations, and help bring us all to reflecting more fully God’s image.