RIVERSIDE (BP) -- Paul Chitwood is certain he has a lot in common with students at California Baptist University. The school, with an enrollment of just over 11,000 students, is affiliated with the California Baptist Convention. Chitwood is the first IMB president to speak at the school.
Addressing the thousands of students who attended CBU's chapel service Jan. 28, Chitwood said, "I went to a Baptist university, so I knew it would be easy for us to connect."
"I mean, you're in college, and I have two kids in college," Chitwood quipped. "You're young, and I don't turn 50 for another two months. You all have phones, and when I was in college, we had a phone, in our house, hanging on the wall. You get all your information online. When I was in college, the internet came online."
Those comparisons aside, Chitwood told students God wants the same two things from every person, regardless of their age: God wants us to love His Son, Jesus, and God wants us to serve His Son, Jesus. Preaching from Colossians 1:13-20, Chitwood challenged students to try to understand how much God loved Jesus.
"I had dinner last night with several students from CBU," Chitwood said. "What they all had in common was that they grew up overseas on the mission field where their parents were serving. I loved getting to talk with them and hear about all the places they had lived and how they ended up here at Cal Baptist. But as awesome as they are and as much as I love them, and as awesome as you are and, if I got to know you, I'm sure I would love you, there are a couple of college students I'll always love more than them or you.
"There's a young lady who is senior at the University of Louisville who I love more because she is my daughter. And there is a young man who is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, and I love him more because he is my son. It makes sense that God loves His only begotten Son, Jesus, more than anyone or anything else."
So, why then, if God loved Jesus so much, did He send Jesus from heaven to earth to be "despised and rejected"? Chitwood asked.
"Every good story has a hero," Chitwood said. "Star Wars has the Jedi. There's Harry Potter and his friends. There's Frodo and his friends. There's a new avenger every week. Every good story has a hero, and so does the greatest story ever told.
"It's a true story and it's our story," Chitwood continued. "We were, as Colossians says, in the domain of darkness. It was the domain of our sin and our enslavement to our sin, and hell awaited us.
"But then the One who is the image of God, the firstborn of all creation, by whom everything was created and for whom everything was created, He came to rescue us from our sin by the blood of His cross, reconciling us to God. He is the world's all-time greatest hero. And this is why: So you would love Him."
God also wants us to serve Jesus, Chitwood said.
"Jesus deserves first place in your life because of what He's done for you, but He doesn't just deserve it, He demands it. In fact, that's the only place He will accept," Chitwood said.
Sharing from his own experience, Chitwood challenged students not to bargain with God about serving Him "someday" but to commit to serving Him "now." Because God loves us, He is justified in asking us to love and serve His Son.
"I cannot imagine how my life could have been more filled with joy, more exciting, more fun, than it has been since I began to serve the Lord," Chitwood said. "God wants you to love His Son. He also wants you to serve His Son. That service may take you into a career where you live out your faith. It may take you into church ministry. It may take you to the mission field.
"The IMB is hiring," Chitwood concluded. "We're sending Journeymen. There are Hands-On and tons of other opportunities here at CBU. I don't know what God has planned for you. But I know what He wants from you: He wants you to love His Son and serve His Son. And I'm here to commend His Son to you: Jesus is worthy of your life."