Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Open Letter to Wheaton College

Dear Wheaton College,

Many alumni, including me, regularly read the confessions made via the Wheaton Confessions page. Many of the posts have made me roll my eyes, shake my head, and think, “Only at Wheaton…” And I am not judging at all when I say that – I love Wheaton’s uniqueness, and I am eternally grateful to have been part of it!

Other confessions, though, have broken my heart. The revelations that someone has deeply hurt the confessor. The confessor who made up a reason for not going to the President’s Ball to avoid speaking the real reason. The cynical, the depressed, the bitter, the frustrated, the disappointed, and the lonely. Those on the receiving end of harsh, senseless, thoughtless judgment. Those young men and women struggling with same-sex attraction who fear seeking counsel. Those longing for a hug.

Some may wonder, what is the root cause of all this suffering beneath the surface of the quick wit, good looks, and full course load of the typical Wheaton student?

Friends, it is not unique to Wheaton. The church at large struggles with hiding its brokenness beneath the surface. For it is simply this – our broken, sinful, fallen state – that is the cause of many of the confessions. I say this not to blame or judge anyone, but to acknowledge the reality of our condition. I think the “beneath the surface” phenomenon is magnified at Wheaton because it is a small community that lives together during one of the most precarious times of life – that time when you are first free from your parents’ ubiquitous influence and you have to (begin to) decide who you are. It is also the first time most students have been in a residential, explicitly Christian community, and the shock of discovering all the brokenness is painful after all the wide smiles in admissions office brochures. Much has been written and said about this phase by wiser and more verbose people than me.

The point, to put it bluntly, is that every single member of the Wheaton community is a sinner. Every one has broken the Covenant – and I do not mean “breaking” in the sense of purposefully disregarding the prohibitions against, e.g., alcohol. In the section “Living the Christian Life,” the Community Covenant affirms several marks of the Christian lifestyle, based on Scripture. These include “show evidence of the Holy Spirit,” “love and side with what is good in God’s eyes and abhor what is evil,” and “be people of integrity.”

I fell short of these marks when I was a student at Wheaton. But truthfully, if I could have chosen anywhere to be when I fell short, it would be Wheaton.

I agree fully with Confession #48 and later ones like it: “I actually really like Wheaton. I’ve been blessed by my professors and have grown incredibly in my faith. Wheaton is a broken place full of sinners, but I’m so glad I’ve been here.”

That was my experience, and the experience of countless other alumni. Many of us alumni pray for you all – every day. We pray that God would be your strength in times of weakness and your joy in times of sorrow. We pray that God would fill you with the Holy Spirit as you sharpen your minds and soften your hearts to reach this lost and broken world that He loves so much. In even the two years since I graduated, I have cried out to God many times to cover the college community with His Spirit.

And so, Wheaton, if I may, let me offer you but one challenge. Run to the Cross. Run. To. The. Cross. Fall prostrate at the feet of Jesus. His endless grace has covered all your stains, and made you whiter than the first beautiful, pristine snowfall that covers the campus every winter. His death has made the way for you to be reconciled with God. His resurrection changed the course of human history, and it can change your life, and those of your roommates, classmates, teammates, lab partners, chapel buddies, CFAs, and the people you see at Sunday brunch, dressed in their Sunday best but hurting so much on the inside.

This is not an easy fix. There is no easy fix to all that plagues us in the already but not yet. C.S. Lewis noted that nowhere does Scripture promise the Christian an easy life. The exact opposite is a better reading of Christ’s words. Christ Himself suffered beyond all we can comprehend. But Christ, just before He ascended into heaven, promised the disciples His everlasting presence and help in time of need. That is what I (and many, many other alumni) pray for you every day – that you would stop relying on your own strength, but rather reach out and grasp the hand that reaches down from heaven. It is the hand of the Lord Jesus, who died not just so that you would live, but that so you would flourish. That you would find healing and restoration beyond your wildest dreams.

I say this not as someone who has “figured it all out.” Far, far from it. But I hope my words may be of some encouragement to you all as you approach each new day at Wheaton.

Run to the Cross, Wheaton! Find there all you need and so much more.

With love and prayers for God's grace,

Eric Joseph Rubio ‘11


Anonymous said...

Well said brother!

Stephen (your trombone buddy:)

Linda said...


"I love God because he listened to me,listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn't know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me."
Psalm 116 1-6 (MSG)