Oliver James Jackson and Alex Lucas share Christian Unions are all all about.
Q1. What are Christian Unions?
UAL Christian Union: A Christian Union is a student-run society within University. They put on free talks and events about Christianity throughout the year. Everyone is always welcome to attend these. There are also events weeks. In London, these happen in the spring term, where students from anywhere can come and hear excellent guest speakers, and get answers to questions they might have about Christianity.
Q2. Why should students care about Christianity?
UAL CU: As students we’re at a time in life when we're forming who we are and making our own choices. It can be a time of confusion or uncertainty and so looking at Christianity and what it says about us as people (for example that God made us in his own image and that he’s pleased with us) is an important thing to explore. God knows how hard life can be at university, and so he’s a really relevant God to get to know. He knows we're not perfect. That's why he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for all the bad things we’ve done, so that we can be in a perfect relationship with him. Through accepting Jesus, we receive both an identity as one of God's people, and the promise of everlasting life. Christianity gives a great perspective on life. There's so much more to say, it is really really relevant.
Q3. Why do some students think religion is out of touch?
UAL CU: People oppose religion for very good reasons. A lot of “religion” in general can be judgemental, rule based and divisive. So can some forms of Christianity. For me, being a Christian is not a religion, it’s a personal relationship with the God who made us and loves us. I'm deeply upset and outraged by the fact that some Christians are deliberately judgemental about certain groups of people. That’s just not in line with Jesus' teaching. Jesus loves all people, and that's why he died for everyone, regardless of race, background, gender or orientation. So if you’ve ever heard any people shouting that he doesn’t love certain people, I want to apologise—it’s simply not true.
Q4. How is “Christianity” different to other religions?
UAL CU: Other religions say “do”. Jesus says “done”. Christianity is the only religion in which our good actions don't help us get to heaven. As Christians, we are very aware of the fact that we’re not perfect, and can never measure up to being completely without “sin” (bad things we do, say, or think). In the beginning, God made the world perfect. But then mankind decided to reject God, and sin against him. That deeply upset God and he couldn't face us because he is without sin. But because he loves us so much, he sent his perfect son Jesus to die for our sin. When he died, he was the perfect sacrifice — he took all the bad things that we’ve done and will ever do, and wiped the slate clean. Through Jesus, and only because of Jesus, God can now look at us with love because he doesn't see our sin anymore. It means anyone that believes in Jesus can enjoy a relationship with God the Father and ultimately, eternal life in heaven. That is different from any religion, and it’s shocking. You don’t have to spend your life trying to be good, but instead the gift is available to anyone that believes in Jesus.
Q5. What are you praying for at the moment?
UAL CU: We pray about everything and anything. As art students, we pray for our friends in the studio, for great Christian friendships and for our work. We also pray for the wider community — for those who are poor, struggling, or ill, and for those in countries experiencing terrible suffering. We also pray that for more growth and joy in our relationship with God.
Q6. What is the biggest obstacle for students to find out more about Christianity?
UAL CU: Feeling that Churches are not places you’d want to visit. Or having negative ideas about what Christians are like. There are plenty of young Christians in their 20’s and 30’s, especially in London, and there are loads of different types of Churches from traditional ones, to really modern ones depending on what you’d prefer, a lot of people are surprised that they’re not all old and boring! If you’d rather not visit a Church, one great thing to check out is Alpha. The Alpha course is a friendly, open and informal opportunity (usually with free food) to meet other people like yourself and discuss the big questions about life and the Christian faith (see page 25).
Q7. What are some views that people may have about the character of Christians that you don't agree with?
UAL CU: I’ve found that some friends think that Christians are living by rules and therefore it’s restrictive. I’ve found the opposite. As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to earn our way into heaven by trying to be good people or obeying rules, instead, simply knowing and accepting Jesus achieves that. Another view is that Christian’s are judgmental people, who think they’re better than everyone else. True Christians know that we’re far from perfect — that’s why we need Jesus; he’s the only person to have been perfect and so that’s the reason he could take the punishment for imperfect people like you and me. If you’ve felt judged by Christians in the past, then again I apologise, we have no right to do that.
Find out more about the UAL CU on their Facebook page