Year Two in Penland Hall

If this post feels a little disjointed, its because a couple of my residents next door are testing the limits of their 500 watt speaker system. I’m back in the freshman dorms for year two. I live in Penland Hall with 480 of my favorite freshmen. I’m a Community Leader (Baylor’s version of an RA) here.

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As much as I love Penland and am blessed to be living here, my neighbor playing Guitar Hero next door reminds me that I don’t really belong here. I’m not a freshman. I’m not leading sic ’em cheers in the Penland dining hall, stumbling over my words at mixers with our sister hall, or walking around with an overstuffed backpack on the first day.

This feeling of not belonging reminds me of the Gospel. 

That sounds kind of strange. Christians are supposed to be really big on belonging. We use that word all the time. It’s a buzzword in our sanctuaries. We talk about about belonging to the local Church or belonging in God’s family. But I think that in some really significant ways, the Gospel tells us that we don’t belong. 

It tells us that we don’t belong in our sin, our junk, or our messes. It is God calling us out of our brokenness, to come to Him and be redeemed, renewed, and restored. It tells us we were made for more, for relationship with our God and Savior.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:1-2

And yet the Gospel tells us we don’t belong in another way. The crosses in our churches and on our necklaces and car bumpers remind us what had to happen for us to belong in that relationship with God. The wine we drink in communion is a bitter reminder that we don’t really belong. We don’t deserve God’s grace, but He gives it freely because He is good.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

So what does this have to do with Penland Hall? Whenever I have to tell my residents that bowling in the hallways is frowned upon, or that genuine swords are not appropriate wall decor, it reminds me that I don’t belong. 

I don’t belong in my sin and shame because my God has called me out of that.

I don’t belong in the presence of my Jesus because my sin put him up there on that cross. I deserved that.

I don’t belong.

And whether you’re a freshman or a senior or a senior citizenneither do you. 

Wouldn’t things be different?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Me and the guys are going to commit these five verses to memory this week. Sometimes you come across scripture that is so applicable. The verses just strike a chord in your heart and you know that it is true, it is beautiful, and it’s speaking directly to you. It makes me wonder what our lives would look like if we lived these verses.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

What if we took that word always seriously? What if we truly trusted in His plan and simply rejoiced regardless of the circumstances? Wouldn’t things be different?

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

What if Christians were known for being gentle, rather than loud, arrogant, and judgmental? What if we took our WWJD bracelets seriously and actually ask ourselves what Jesus would do?  Wouldn’t things be different?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

What if we simply weren’t anxious? What if we we approached things by prayer and petition? What if we went to Him with our problems first? Wouldn’t things be different?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

What if this wasn’t just Christian wall-art? What if we took our thought life seriously and dwelled on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? Wouldn’t things be different?

It’s easy to read scripture, like the way it sounds, put our Bibles on the shelf, and go live out our lives. Me and my bros here don’t want to do that anymore.