Momentum: A walk with God
MOORE—What began as a large gathering of college students from various campuses across Oklahoma ended as an experience of worship led by young people with an obvious passion for something more than another year of college.
Walking into Moore, First, when hundreds of college students are singing of a Savior Who can move mountains and Who is mighty to save will give the impression that the students of today aren’t that different from previous generations who once attended statewide events sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The theme of Jesus and the cross has remained constant for decades. Yet the sights and sounds are drastically different as the collegiate of today faces different trials than those of their predecessors in ways seldom conceived just five years ago.
What they wear is certainly different (Logan Walter, the lead singer of the Dutton worship band, was wearing a Batman T-shirt) and how they sing is radically different from music commonly associated with a meeting of Baptists. The content of their worship resonates with ancient Christian doctrine more than trendy themes and marks a theological shift from the more therapeutic sounding lyrics of recent decades. These students sing about Jesus—a lot. With raised hands and loud shouts of praise to God, the singing lasts almost 30 minutes before a young man dressed in jeans, an untucked shirt and moccasins stood before them with a Bible.
For those who thought preaching might have been a fad which left the church scene with the advent of video cameras, projection screens and strobe lights, Michael Kelley’s presence on the platform proved that preaching remains a constant even for a generation raised with an iPhone. Kelley begins with a video showing how life in a Baptist church would have looked long before these students would have been born. The photos look antique—downright funny—as they laugh and wonder how their forefathers could have been captured performing such strange practices as wearing choir robes and sitting in rows in Sunday School.
The deep baritone voice of the narrator speaks of a legalism and phoniness which can be all too present among religious people. Following the video, Kelley states that for many, the very idea of being a Christian is all too easily wrapped up in rules to be followed for reasons totally foreign to most people.
“When you look into the Bible, you will find rules about everything,” Kelley said. “Rules about hand washing; rules about marriage, money and mildew—even where to use the bathroom.”
He states that it is a fatal misunderstanding of the Bible to see the book as merely a rule book without understanding “this can’t be all there is.”
Realizing that the Bible as a book is seldom read by most Christians, Kelley begins an overview of the Bible which touches on key themes in key books focusing on the majestic attributes of God and His divine power to rescue people trapped in their sins. He states that many people—especially in churches—do not fully know or understand the Bible, having read very little of its contents.
Kelley seems intent on driving home the point that the Bible reveals a God Who does not like “good” people who do “good” things. Rather, he stresses that the Christian Gospel is about a God Who takes “dead people and makes them alive by the power of the Holy Spirit.” He references the modern mantra of many atheist professors these students are certain to encounter that “Christianity is a crutch for the weak.” Kelley seeks to shatter that myth as he states that “Christianity is not a crutch for the weak, it is a stretcher for the dead. To state that we are simply weak is to give us too much credit. We are dead in our sins.”
Christianity is not to be conceived as anything less than “becoming fully alive.” In that process, Kelley states, “there is a description of the Christian life that is perfectly captured in the word—walk. Walking is the response of a Christ-follower who is in fellowship with God.” The concept of movement toward God and with God as the Christian “walks” toward Heaven is a critical insight that believers must understand if they are to know the fullness of God in Christ.
Taking the text of Genesis 5:21 where Enoch walked with God, he states that God is the hero of the Bible and God alone is “the central character of every story.” Enoch was “consumed with God in a way that many of us are not.” Enoch “walked with God in a way that placed everything else as secondary to his relationship with God.” Kelley challenged the students to gaze upon God as their chief treasure even as they ask the very important questions that face them during this very important season of their lives.
“We must learn to value God more than anything else and learn to walk with Him in ways in which God becomes our passion,” he said.
After the session, students could be overheard talking about the Bible. Most were realizing (some for the first time) that they were not good students of the Bible to the degree that they were students of the subjects they studied in school. Jennifer Duckworth, originally from Ponca City and now a senior at Oklahoma State University, said “many do not know the Bible for themselves because we are lazy and too comfortable.” Other students echoed Duckworth’s sentiments, and the evening seemed to prod them to study the Bible more during these years when they had many questions about its contents and meaning.
Kelley challenged each of them to learn to walk with God and worship God in ways that would continually shape their minds and hearts through the years of service God granted to them in this life.
“In the end,” Kelley said, “Enoch simply walked with God on to His home, and we must keep walking until we see God.”