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Christian Union: The Magazine
September 9, 2021

CU Lux at Yale Hosts Summer Seminars

Christian Union Lux at Yale University hosted a series of seminars this summer entitled: “The Science of Love: A Conversation with the Gospel of John.” The study explored the theme of love in the Gospel of John in dialogue with various religious, philosophical, and sociological notions of love. By hosting these conversations, CU Lux “aspired for nothing more than an increased love for God and neighbor at Yale.”

Luke BellLuke Bell, Yale '22The discussions, hosted in person at Christian Union’s Pennington Center and online via Zoom, were open to students and pre-frosh in the Yale community. Dr. Ben Pascut, Christian Union’s ministry director at Yale, was the host. Christian Union: The Magazine recently interviewed one of the student presenters, Luke Bell, regarding the impact of “The Science of Love” and how it would serve as a catalyst for the ensuing freshmen outreach campaign in the fall. Bell, a sophomore in Pierson College and mathematics major, is co-president of CU Lux.

Christian Union Magazine: What was your focus as a presenter?

Luke Bell: As the renowned mathematician Georg Cantor once said, “to ask the right question is harder than to answer it.” I believe this statement applies when studying Scripture. By asking thought-provoking, leading questions, I tried to encourage our attendees to uncover for themselves new truths about the Bible, love, and God that they wouldn’t have otherwise discovered without probing questions. Thus, my focus as a presenter was on asking the right questions so that our attendees engaged with and articulated the truths we were learning.  

CU: What were some of the key themes of the conversations?

LB: The two key themes were precisely defining the biblical definition of love and carefully understanding what it means for God to be love. One of my favorite conversations was in our third study. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), we did an interesting biblical exercise where we examined the interchangeability of the words “God” and “love.” First, everyone closed their eyes as one of us read several passages from John 1 and John 3, supplanting every use of “God” with the word “love.” Then, everyone closed their eyes again as one of us read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, substituting every use of “love” with the word “God.” We spent almost an hour discussing our reflections on what we learned. This exercise was so eye-opening because it gave a unique, multifaceted perspective of love while beautifully illuminating God’s character. 

CU: What separates the love of Christ and the love in the Gospel of John from the world’s notion of love?

LB: Hands down, the unconditionality of Christ’s love is what makes His love so different. The world’s love often comes with prerequisites. It requires us to be smart enough, athletic enough, attractive enough, charming enough, or other variations of “enough.” Jesus, on the other hand, offers his love completely irrespective of our sin and lack of worthiness. He simply overlooks every reason why we don’t deserve his love and offers us “grace upon grace” if we only trust Him (John 1:16). 

CU: How did the attendees interact and react with the series?

LB: As a Christian audience, I believe our attendees have really enjoyed the series. One of our favorite times was when we chose a “theme passage” on which to meditate every day for two weeks. After meditating, we shared stories and testimonies about how our passages impacted our lives. It was so refreshing and encouraging to hear such amazing testimonies and experience the power of the Word, “which is at work in us who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). 

CU: How did “The Science of Love” align with the mission of Christian Union Lux?

LB: I would say this Bible study has perfectly aligned with the mission of CU Lux, since our primary command as believers is to love God and neighbor. Through studying the Word, engaging in corporate prayer, cultivating relationships, and sharing the gospel, love is what undergirds who we are and what we do as believers at CU Lux. Getting to refine our knowledge of love and its Scriptural significance in the gospel of John simply reinforced our conviction that love is supreme, and without it, we have nothing. 

CU: As co-president, how does this theme of love for neighbor motivate you for the upcoming academic year and your freshman outreach campaign?

LB: One of my favorite scenes in the Gospel of Matthew is the narrative of chapter nine. Jesus goes from healing a paralytic to debating the Pharisees, to teaching about fasting, to healing a sick woman, to raising a dead girl, to healing two blind men, then to healing a mute man; the text indicates He did it all with little to no rest in between. Jesus loved others by simply being with them, by spending time with them. This aspect of Jesus’ love is what motivates me for the upcoming year. Whether it’s laughing, crying, eating, walking, playing, studying, praying, worshiping, or reading Scripture with friends, I just want to love my neighbor by simply being there for them, just like Jesus is there for us.

CU: How has serving with CU Lux helped develop you as a Christian leader?

LB: A Christian leader’s primary responsibility is to love people, so one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in CU Lux is what it means to love the body of Christ. I have never encountered so much compassion, fervor, acceptance, and love as I have witnessed in Christian Union, and I honestly don’t know how I could survive Yale without this community. To say I am extraordinarily grateful for what my Christian Union family has given me would be a tremendous understatement, and I can honestly say my time in CU has been one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. Having experienced the love in this community, CU Lux has taught me how to reciprocate the love I’ve received to those I help lead, which has been an invaluable lesson in my development as a Christian leader. 

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