by Christian Olivier, TC ’20
What does it mean to be a Christian at Yale?
Being a Christian at Yale means always relying on God’s grace and mercy to speak thoughtfully, act graciously, think critically, and love deeply, never losing sight of God’s plan for my life.
Being Christian at Yale, though, seems to not always align with what being a Christian should be.
Being Christian at Yale should be relying on God to guide every aspect of my life- you know, except those pesky post-grad plans. “I have to secure the bag, Jesus. You get it, right?”
Being Christian would also mean hungering for a personal relationship with God- I mean, of course, time permitting. “I have studying to do, Lord! Don’t you get it? I’ll get back with you right before I’m about to go into this exam.”
Being Christian at Yale should mean shining God’s light through meaningful connections with people. You know, through Snapchat or whatever. All of this “let’s get a meal” nonsense is for the birds.
It feels if at times, being Christian is falling short of what it looks like to be a Christian. If I were a Christian Christian, I wouldn’t be doing the things that Christian is doing, but what good Christians do.
Do you see what I’m saying?
At times, my walk with God feels as if I am not measuring up to a moralistic standard that hangs over my head.
The apostle Paul from the Bible seems to struggle with the same thing. In Romans 7:15-20 he says:
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Here, we see Paul struggling with a dichotomy of self: what he knows he should do, he is not doing; and what he shouldn’t, he is. In verses 17 and 18, you can see why this passage is important to this problem. Paul is saying that we are not inherently good people, saying that “good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” The desire is there, but the support from basic human nature is nonexistent.
What is beautiful about Christianity, however, is that God did not send his son to reinforce our goodness. Jesus did not bear the weight of humanity on his shoulders to make good people great- he died so that every sinner has no obstacle between himself and God.
So now where does that leave us?
Being Christian, Becoming Christian
Being a Christian at Yale- or a Christian Christian I should say- is restlessly living with the tension between sin and goodness. Relentlessly striving toward the standard that Jesus set, while not negating the grace he as shown in my life when I fall to the base of the insurmountable peak of righteousness. Being a Christian at Yale is standing right back up and fighting the good fight, even if being Christian is what got me on the ground in the first place.