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Joe Cofler | Wonder

Who are you and what do you in Oxford?

I’m Joe, and I’m a 2nd year studying Maths and Computer Science at Worcester. I also enjoy a lot of things that aren’t my degree. Coming from a non-religious family, I actually became Christian after last year’s OICCU events week. It’s been an amazing journey growing in my faith and knowledge of God, and I am definitely changed because of it.

What is the most wonderful thing about life?

I genuinely would answer being able to have a relationship with God; and because of God, who is beauty, and love, and goodness – all to their fullest amounts – I can definitely say that beauty, and love, and goodness in the world are some of the most wonderful things in life. Despite all the ways in which the world is broken – and I feel strongly that fundamental to the Christian message is a rejection of this brokenness – beauty, and love, and goodness are all already in the world, if obscured sometimes behind layers of pain and suffering, reminding us of how things should be, should have been, and will be.

This pain and brokenness in the world is hard to avoid. Working with the homeless, amongst other things, has made it all the more clear to me just how acute this hurt can be for individual people; and every single one of these people is just as much loved by God as you and I. So I wonder how – empowered by the Holy Spirit, who is God, to love beyond my capacity – I can bring God’s restoring love into other people’s lives: whether through social work, helping people come to know the God who loves them, or just listening to them in a time of need. I also wonder how Christianity can work in the issues that most affect our world today. I have a conviction that for Christians, God’s message of hope, love and restoration should undergird how we interact with the world in all ways.

Is there something more?

One evening when I was 16, I realised that there somehow must be more: God must exist. At that time I didn’t really know who God was, but after about two years I had converted to Christianity; having learnt more about the faith I was left with little choice but to see that God had been truly revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. As Christians we believe that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8, 16) and that this love is manifested in Jesus on the cross: conquering the brutal violence of the Roman Empire with self-giving love, to rescue the whole world – including those who had just crucified him. Three days later, Jesus was resurrected. A few Galilean peasants began preaching that a new world, with one day no more death or suffering, was breaking into the old and broken order – and that this is good news and hope for all. With this good news – this gospel – for us all, there is something more.