Finals got you stressed? Me too. But I’ve got Jesus to keep my blood pressure down ’til I inevitably bag my 2:1 ticket to settled suburban comfort.
Sorry, but to use a contemporary expression, that’s fake news, and it’s sad that that’s what people expect from a Christian finalist. I’m fed up with Christians treating Jesus like a self-help guru as though we’re just emotionally fragile types who put on soppy spiritual music when we get a bit angsty and call it a “relationship with God”. Christianity is about so much more, and the piffling fuss we make over finals should embarrass us all.
Why do we whip ourselves into such a frenzy? Finals don’t define our identity. Our value isn’t dependent on them. They’re certainly not all-important for our future. Or are they? In spite of your stress-relieving spirituality, can you not face the fact there’s a version of you who doesn’t quite make the grade? Have you buried them under your colour-coded revision timetable? Do what you like, they’re still under there.
We like to think of ourselves as heroes in our own little story. It’s why we identify ourselves with the heroes in other stories. I’d watch Lord of the Rings with my friends as a kid and we’d fight over who was Aragorn. When we watch ‘The West Wing’, we’re President Bartlett. When we watch Star Wars, we’re Luke, Han, or Leia. When we read the Bible, we’re Moses, David, even Jesus. We claim to be Christians, but we’re the Christ in our lives - the well-intentioned but misunderstood hero fighting for good against the world.
Sorry Christians, but we’re not. When we read the Bible, we’re Judas, using Jesus to buy money and wealth. We’re the soldiers, because we make mockery of the man on the cross when we demean his sacrifice by reducing it into our stress-relief. We’re the thief on the cross shouting “Save us” without acknowledging that we’re the reason we need saving.
The worst thing that can happen to a Christian finalist isn’t failing. It’s succeeding and forgetting what’s really important: that there’s a perfect and holy God; that the way we’ve lived has offended him; that our offence deserves judgement; and that the only way to avoid what we deserve is to trust the crucified Christ who bears the penalty for us. Peace comes to the Christian only when they understand that their finals don’t matter in the slightest if the gospel is true. And my reflection as a Christian finalist is that too many of us appear to have forgotten that.