Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thoughts of a graduating Northland student...

If Northland were what it is today when I was coming almost four years ago, I probably would have gone to a different school. That sounds like a really negative statement at first glance, but allow me to explain.

I've talked a little bit about where I was before I came to Northland almost 4 years ago on this blog, but let's just say I had a lot of legalistic ideas about what genuine Christianity was supposed to look like and what genuine Christians were supposed to act like. Anyone who didn't match this view was wrong and might not even be a Christian.

In my view of things at the time there were many "hills to die on."

Therefore, with this view I had of things, Northland would have been out of the question if it were what it is today when I was considering going.

Soon after I came on campus my view of things began to change. I remember during orientation Dr. Olson was talking about what music we were allowed to listen to (this was the first year they allowed students to listen to whatever they wanted to in their own time...they just had to use their own discretion based on what they saw in Scripture) and he said something like, "As much as we may try to say that Scripture says explicitly what music we should and shouldn't listen to, it does not." I couldn't argue with this...and boy did my views of things change throughout my years here...

I learned that there are a lot fewer "hills to die on" than I had thought there were. There are charismatics who genuinely love Jesus, are committed to following God's Word, and holding to the true fundamentals of the faith. There were genuine Christians who had tattoos, long hair, and dressed in jeans to church.

I am so thankful that Northland opened my eyes to the beautiful diversity of the Church. There are people in the genuine universal church of God who had different views on side issues, and that's okay! These churches who agree on the fundamentals of the faith can and should work together for the cause of the Gospel!

Another thing that I have so appreciated is the freedom Northland gives to their students to work through what they believe about things. Our student handbook has gradually shrunk during my time here...my freshman year it was about 100 pages I think, and now it's only about 15 pages. They give general guidelines and help students think through their own standards on things. So they allow their students to be adults. Do you take risks by allowing your students this kind of freedom? Absolutely...but it helps them so much in the future! Preparing them for real life.

Now does this mean that Northland students just run amok doing whatever they want? No, definitely not! They have a discipleship model of discipline, which I think is actually Biblical. When someone does something wrong they will sit them down and try to figure out what made them do what they did, and try to help them work through their struggles biblically, rather than just throwing punishment at them right away. This is the kind of gracious and loving pursuit I think we see Jesus living out in His earthly ministry with His disciples.

So, I say all this to communicate that I'm so thankful for all that I've learned during my time at Northland! I'm so excited about what is going on here and I look forward to seeing what God continues to do here after I graduate!

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