An Encounter with Christ
This past Victoria Day weekend, I got to attend my first Campus Challenge retreat at Glendon Campus. (Side: that campus is much nicer than UW, my university’s ugly !!). Because I was elected to next year’s UWCCF committee by God’s grace, I planned to attend because it was expected of the future committee to be there. As the days led up to the retreat, I initially was worried about going because of the many assignments and labs that I had to submit next week — I eventually lost a lot of sleep after retreat to complete them (partially due to time mismanagement). However, for the time being, those worries were gone.
CC blew away my expectations; it was most likely my most memorable conference yet. There were a lot of things done in this conference that really challenged core aspects of my faith — this was done through intense inductive Bible studies, prayer walks and leadership tracks about prayer and evangelism. In the interest of length, I’ll be focusing on mainly one thing that impacted this whole conference for me.
It was Sunday night and before this event we had done a prayer walk and studies John 15:1–15, which focused on the vine and the branches. This study was interesting in part due to the plethora of questions asked about many parts of the passage, mostly about the use of such a plant as an analogy. After some interpretation and explanation, there was one point that struck me and it mentioned about how we need to abide in Him, specifically the part about “remaining in His love”. The speaker mentioned the difficulty with this and how we tend to reject the love of Christ due to a selfish tendency to cling to our own methods, fears and desires. We don’t trust our Father to reign in us as His King, Lord and Saviour and trust His Holy Spirit to work in us. This was just the backdrop of the night that was to come.
That same night, we were reflecting on the previous study on how we should readily accept the love of Jesus. To emphasize this, we washed each other’s feet at CC just like Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in John 13:1–17. The AFC staff would wash the CCF/ACF chairs, who in turn would wash the committee members, who in turn would wash the members of the fellowships. It was a very touching scene which really reminded me of what Jesus said to His disciples.
As I saw this candlelit scene, I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. How did this scene apply to me? Why wash the feet? I was coming off a bad week because of a lot of assignment submissions and just falling into temptation. As a result, my heart was cold and insensitive to what was happening, but I did not want this night to be wasted. I wanted to take something from this night. I prayed to the Lord to break my heart and to encounter Him.
In short… I got more than what I asked for. As I took one last look at the scene, I bowed my head down and burst into tears. How could such a holy and just God show such unconditional love to a lowly and wretched sinner like me? I deserved not only death, but also every drop from His cup of wrath. There were so many times where I would run away from obeying the Lord’s commands not only because it was hard, but because I wanted to pursue and satisfy my own passions rather than what the Lord had for me. Yet, He kept pursuing me, calling me to come back to Him. And so I wept.
This last thought was further corroborated as suddenly arms came around me and held me tightly. I heard a voice whispering in my ear, “Arthur. God loves you just the way you are. Why are you crying? These tears of sadness should be tears of joy, as you know that Jesus Christ has washed away your sins through His blood shed”. As I was processing this thought, I found it hard to believe this as I still was in self-condemnation. However, the Lord gradually changed my heart that I might believe I have victory through Jesus Christ. I didn’t have to keep wallowing in this life of sin and condemnation anymore.
As I walked up to get my feet washed, a lot of people encouraged me, hugged me and prayed with me. Quite coincidentally, the one washing my feet was the CCF chair (kudos to Eman :D). I remember vividly his kind and warm smile as he took his time to wash my feet — it was as if Christ was smiling at me (not that I’ve seen Him). As for the actual washing, I was not sure as what to think of it. I was just blown away by the fact that such a transcendent, majestic King would do the lowliest of tasks for me! In hindsight, the love, the encouragement, support and love that my fellow brother and sisters in Christ at Campus Challenge showed me was really just a glimpse of the unwavering and undying love that Christ showed me through His death on the cross.
Now it was my turn to was the feet of my fellow Christians. Since there were so many committee members lining up to wash feet, I only got to do this servant task to one of the attendees. Because I only had one shot, I wanted to make this moment worth it. As I was washing the person’s feet, I tried my best to put myself in Jesus’ shoes and how He cared for his disciples through those same actions. I’m certain that the disciples’ feet were much more smelly and dirty than the ones I had to wash, for starters. However, thinking back on this event, what struck me during the washing was how the committee’s role was to steward and guide the fellowship just Jesus guided the sheep as the shepherd. There was so much sacrifice and commitment involved that I didn’t realize — I would have to set an example for CCF just like Paul did for the Philippians (Phil 2:17) and I would have to devote significant time to serve CCF instead of using it for academics and career. However, it will be worth it —when I’m at the gates of heaven and the Lord says to me “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
It’s so easy to forget the Gospel in our busy lives especially when serving in church or fellowship — it’s the driving reason behind why we serve and love others. I encourage you to sit back, slow down and reflect on how Christ has shown His love to you. Take the time to pray for God to show you the Gospel in a different light. And when you do encounter Christ and the Gospel, you’ll be in shock, awe and admiration.
“…but God shows his love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8