After school I studied at University of New South Wales, which was known for its courses in engineering – civil, electrical, mechanical, aeronautical – and cheap articles maybe more! As a result, there were quite a few students there who were sponsored by one or other branch of the Armed Forces. The deal is that students get a salary while they study, their fees paid, superannuation, an allowance for textbooks, subsidized accommodation, and free health care. What a bargain! You get to do the course you want, and someone else pays the lot!
But there’s a catch, of course. I quote the ADF website: ‘As Defence is investing in your education, you will be required to commit to a certain number of years in the Services. …Your commitment to the ADF is the number of years you’re sponsored, plus one year.’
Imagine the student who is surprised, at graduation, to realize they have to work for the ADF for the next four years. Wouldn’t their officer say, “What do you think we educated you for? Why do you think we gave you all these resources, looked after your health, made sure you were well fed and housed? Did you think it was a free lunch? We invested in you so that you can serve us better.”
1 Peter 1:3-2:3 says that God has given us new birth, hope, a completely secure inheritance, and God’s protection until Jesus returns. He has given us the salvation of our souls. What has he done all this for? We shouldn’t be surprised that the next sentence begins, ‘Therefore…’, and is followed by a list of God’s requirements from us. We shouldn’t be surprised to hear God say, “I invested all this in you, so that you can serve me better.”
What does God require of us? We are to live our lives in this world as strangers, revering God, not all the glossy things our culture offers us. The thing that absorbs all our thoughts isn’t to be career or family or money, but the grace (the gift we didn’t earn) that will be ours when Jesus returns. And we are to live transformed lives; we are to love every other deeply, as if we will live together forever – because we will.
- Katie Peken