My friend and former co-worship leader, Dan Chang, posted an excerpt of a sermon given at Duke Chapel (found in the link above). I think the quote applies to any elite university, UVA included. I am struck by one part especially:
We have spent years educating you into the conceit that you have all you need to grasp the world, to understand, to figure it all out, to get the truth, to use it, make money off of your knowledge, grab reality by the tail & twist….You don’t grasp him; he grasps you.
In short, the conceit that the world in all its workings can be understood, operationalized & controlled is the profoundest stumbling block. Not that this should surprise us, Jesus is the great skandalon (stumbling block) himself. Last week I finished J.I. Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.” The first 2 pages say this about real prayer, which also serves to encapsulate relationship with God which relates very closely to that thought above:
The recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers…. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledge of our helplessness & dependence…. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty
God is sovereign, we are helpless. This is a very hard teaching for students in a university world that promotes & expects perfect performance all the time (as I posted before about “busy sickness”). It requires that a competent, hard-working, self-motivated (and ultimately self-saving) young man or woman relinquish this view of life to embrace instead the mysterious Father, incarnate but divine Son, and the incomprehensible but present Spirit as the author, leader, savior, and source of all real life.
I have seen repeatedly though that when these non-Christian friends do, they find a freedom and wholeness incomparable to anything before. I can think of at least four people at Duke who had this very experience – from performance-based life to grace-covered life. This is very thing that UVA and other high-octane students need: saving from over-competence.
Pray that as UVA students (not just IV but all of them) are in the midst of exam studying and test-taking for the next two weeks that they would get a glimpse of a different way of life, one that does not require that they grasp every iota of data and practice precisely, but hear God calling them to the one where He, God of all power and love, grasps them entirely. And, in grace and truth, speak against this false way of life to any students or friends you know. It might be the very thing they have been aching to hear.