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Chris Gooding | Wonder

Who are you and what do you do in Oxford?

Hello all! I’m Chris, a second-year law student at Christ Church. I’ve dabbled in various sports during my time at Oxford including football, fencing and rowing. I’m also a fan of the very (very) occasional night out – Bully being a particular favourite of mine!

What do you wonder about?

I often wonder how different my life would be if I hadn’t gone to Oxford. If you are anything like me then from the moment you got here Oxford became a part of who you are. You updated your Facebook, edited your CV, and posted a new pic on Instagram all in recognition of the fact that you now go to Oxford. My parents are proud of me for getting in here, and I’m so pleased to be here. An Oxford degree is incredibly valuable and has opened doors to opportunities that previously I could only dream of. But what if I had never got in to Oxford in the first place?

The problem with places like Oxford is that we place so much value on them, that we end up letting them value us. When I ask myself whether I’d be any less valuable if I hadn’t come to Oxford, I know the answer should be yes, but why? The reason we update our Facebook and change our CVs is because the people around us, our friends, family and future employers value the Oxford education. But this kind of thinking can lead to dangerous conclusions about who we are and what we’re worth. Achievement is a good servant but a cruel master. Basing our value on the fact that we’ve got in to Oxford may be good for a while but it doesn’t last. We’re always chasing the next achievement: the summer internship, the vacation-scheme, the post-grad degree, or an All Souls Fellowship if you’re really doing bits! Basing our identity and our value on achievement, even the achievement of getting into Oxford, is an exhausting and ultimately futile exercise.

Is there something more?

Is there more to life than what we do and achieve? Absolutely. While society would have us prove our value by what wedo, God shows us how much he values by what He’s done. One thing I love about being a Christian is that my identity is not rooted in anything I do. If I hadn’t gone to Oxford then although an employer may value me less, my parents might not have been as proud, and my friends might not think as highly of me, I know that the God who created the entire universe would love and value me just the same. The Bible says that He knew me and loved me before the universe began, that He sent his son Jesus into the world to die on a cross to rescue me from all the sin and suffering in this world and that He rose again and now lives in me, watching over my every step. Earlier I introduced myself as a second-year law student at Christ Church. But the truth is that first and foremost I’m a child of God. Going to Oxford is cool and all, but being fully loved and fully known by the Creator of the universe – that’s breathtakingly wonderful.


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