There is something about sunsets that draw us in. Maybe it's the transformation — people can’t help but admire the colors that trail across the hemisphere of the sky as day softly fades into night.
The beauty of the sky has inspired artists for years. In Psalm 19:1, David composed, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
When we return to campus each fall, there seems to be a buzz as we remember the beauty of Indiana sunsets. Soon enough, however, the thrill is lost as evening after evening the sky is painted anew with color. The breathtaking beauty of a sunset becomes common because we have the opportunity to watch it so many times.
I wonder if we do that with the beauty of the gospel. Because we attend a Christian university, we have the blessing to hear countless stories of the grace of God. While each testimony could stand beautifully on its own, story after story might numb us to the power of God’s redemptive work as a whole. The plot becomes common and familiar to us, and instead of being inspired by God’s handiwork, we let it continue on without much thought.
Yet the beauty of our changing lives far surpasses the changing colors of a sunset.
Recently, I was moved to tears by a quote from an unknown source. It simply says: “The apostle Paul entered heaven to the cheers of those he martyred because that’s how the gospel works.”
What is this saving grace that would take a murderer and make him a martyr himself? Who is this Jesus, that a relationship with him could change the course of a life? Of many lives?
It is a testament to God’s kindness that Paul entered heaven and got to meet his maker face to face. It is beyond incredible that, while surrounded by the faithful Christians he had killed, Paul was reconciled through Jesus and recognized for his own faithful work.
Each transformation story we hear is an opportunity to witness the artistry of a graceful God. When Jesus walked the earth, he was the kingdom of heaven moving in our midst. As Jesus walks with us through our lives, we get the chance to experience the kingdom.
In Matthew 13, Jesus explains through parables the value of the kingdom of heaven. Whether comparing it to a pearl or a hidden treasure, Jesus taught that the kingdom is to be treasured above all else. In the parable of the hidden treasure, a man is in a field when he discovers previously secret treasure.
“In his joy, he went and sold all he had and bought that field,” says Matthew 13:44 (ESV).
Every day, we are faced with numerous choices of what to value. Like the man in a field, we might discover a new story that is the work of Christ. Treasure this outworking of God’s grace and value it above all else.
As the semester continues on and our relationships grow more committed, we will most likely get to hear the story of how our friends came to know Christ. A professor or coach might require their students to share testimonies with one another so that collaboration reaches a standard that can only be met with deep relationships. Best of all, living together in such a small area means we have the opportunity to tangibly witness the transformative power of Christ among our peers.
The Christian Ministry department requires that students share their testimonies in all of their introductory classes. Dr. Phil Collins finds this sharing to be encouraging both among the students and to him personally, as well as a great reminder of the type of God we serve.
“No two testimonies are the same,” Collins said. “God is creative in His pursuit of all of us.”
Never let the power of God stop stunning you. The gospel is unbelievable and overwhelming at times — that is how it works.
Indiana sunsets often take our breath away as God alters the colors, clouds, and light in unimaginable ways. God is doing the same in your life and in the lives of your peers. We might just need to step back and allow the beauty of his work to touch our hearts in a fresh way each time.