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Campolo challenges comfortable Christians

By Julie Ooms

On November 7 and 8, in a visit that included two lectures and a chapel service, Tony Campolo encouraged and challenged Dordt students to be risk-takers for the kingdom of God.

Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo

Campolo, one of the most sought-after speakers in the country, has been a guest on multiple television and radio programs and is a nationally renowned preacher, speaker, writer, and Christian activist. His writings and talks challenge the dominant culture and encourage Christians to risk disagreeing with that culture in ways that will bring about change. At turns funny and dead serious, his lectures forced students to ask themselves how they were living as a testimony to Christ’s work in their lives and in the world.

In Campolo’s view, the purpose of Christian living should be centering on Jesus and furthering the kingdom, not gaining status and acclaim for oneself. “When you die,” Campolo said in chapel, “and they drop you in a hole in the ground and go back to the church to eat potato salad, will they be talking about your title? Or will they be talking about your testimony?”

Along with charging students to take risks for the kingdom rather than living for themselves, Campolo brought up the biblical point that we can’t serve both God and mammon, or, as he puts it, “We can’t serve both consumerism and Christ.” Our money, our resources, and our time must all be spent as Christ would have us spend them. If we claim that we want to live in service to Christ, we need to be willing to take risks and challenge the values being promoted where we live. “It’s time the students in Christian colleges in the U.S. stand up and say, ‘We want change!’”

Even from an audience of reserved Dutch college students, he got a scattered chorus of “Amens!”