So, What is RUF?
“So, what is RUF?” This question is among the most frequently asked at the beginning of every fall semester. (Many students have no idea that the name “RUF” is an acronym, and just pronounce it “rough.”) One could answer by explaining that the “R” stands for “Reformed,” and then launch into an account of the historical context and theological priorities of the Reformation. But that’s not really what inquirering students want to know. They want to know what we do on campus. So I usually respond by saying that RUF is a Christian ministry that helps students grow in their faith while in college. If someone wants to know more, I extend the invitation to check us out on Tuesday nights, to get to know other involved students, and to let me buy lunch sometime. What I hope students see from us in practice is that RUF is a ministry for many different kinds of people. I hope they see that regardless of their beliefs or doubts, RUF exists so that they can explore Christianity and grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to follow him in community. RUF is here for the “convinced” and the “unconvinced,” the lost, the found, the burned, the bored, the cynical, and the spiritual.
I’m also hopeful that students begin to understand that the gospel is only for the weak (and that’s all of us). As one author put it, “strength Christianity” proclaims, “I am strong. I sought the Lord. I’ve turned away from sin. I’m for God!” “Weakness Christianity,” by contrast, says, “I am weak, but the Lord has sought me. I believe, but now help my unbelief. I fail and am broken by my continued sinfulness. Have mercy on me, Lord, for apart from you I can do nothing.” In Luke, 18:9-14, Jesus makes it clear that these are two different approaches to God, and yet only the latter does He desire. Neediness is at the heart of biblical religion. So, what is RUF? It’s a place where students can come and be reminded that “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”