Every three years the Urbana Mission Convention, sponsored by the Inter-Varsity
Christian Fellowship, takes place in Urbana-Champaign. As usual more than
20,000 students, missionaries and others attended this year. The Convention
ended on January 1. In the past John Stott and Eric Alexander have been
some of the men giving the morning Bible readings. This year one of the
speakers who made an impact was Vinoth Ramachandra. He is a staff member
of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and he spoke
on the uniqueness of Christ.
The Lord Jesus is unique, he said, because he, as the Saviour of the world,
was killed as a common criminal. Ramachandra said the fact that Jesus
died a criminal's death was nonsense to many in the first century. The
saving message of the cross was subversive because it bypassed all the
philosophies of the ancient world and went straight to a crucified Saviour,
he said. Ramachandra described three ways that the gospel of Jesus Christ
1] First, the cross subverts all other salvation stories. Other beliefs
hold that salvation is being freed from the world, that life is somehow
evil, and that to be saved is to be in one sense less human. By contrast,
Ramachandra said, Jesus came to us as God incarnate, suffered as we did,
and through his redemption offers forgiveness and then enables humans
to become more human, not less.
2] Second, he said, Jesus is unique because he subverts the way of thinking
that came out of the last 200 years of history. In this thinking, self
is emphasised, and the philosophies of Marx and others focus on how humanity
can find fulfilment in itself. Jesus, on the other hand, exposes and judges
sin and teaches that humanity doesn't have the answer within itself and
that every human effort of finding fulfilment or God will never work.
Christ makes us truly human, and satisfies that longing, he said.
3] Thirdly, Ramachandra said, Jesus subverts the post-modern view that
there is no ultimate truth. The problem with this, he said, is that humanity
is left totally alone, wandering through vague "spirituality"
and "virtual reality". In Christ, though God takes us as we
are, changes us, and gives us a definite truth (himself) to follow.
Ramachandra exhorted the Convention not to see the world as a battlefield
against opposing views, but as a mission field. He said that the church
first lives out its mission by loving one another. The unity of true Christians
shows by their actions what life in Christ is like, he said. Believers
further their mission by being willing to die in order to bear fruit.
At an offering taken at the Convention over a million dollars was given
to mission organisations around the world, especially the Fellowship of