Say that five times fast.
At number two on my list is something I've only just begun to truly appreciate: being able to learn in a Christian liberal arts environment. Gordon calls it "freedom within a framework of faith" and uses slogans like "Faith Seeking Understanding" to describe it, but basically what it comes down to is that the faculty, staff, and students on this campus share a common foundation and framework: our faith in Christ Jesus, but we are open and able to learn and explore things that interest us in an effort to better understand and serve in the world.
I grew up going to public school, and I wouldn't trade my experiences there for anything, but coming to a Christian college was a decision that I made pretty early on and really didn't waiver from. I wanted to see what it would be like to be in an environment like this, where everyone knew Jesus, where professors opened class in prayer. Little did I know that that wasn't even the half of it.
What I got was a reshaping of my limited worldview and the ability to grow and learn in an environment where I didn't have to be on my guard and on the defensive about my beliefs. Sure, this campus isn't free from sin, doubting, or questioning. In fact, that last one is often encouraged in an effort to help us really flesh out what our faith means. But it has given me the freedom to learn from people who share the belief that the world is fallen and broken, but that God is constantly redeeming the Creation to Himself, and that we are called to act as agents in that redemption, whether it be through design, music, medicine, ethics, sociology, or psychology.
I feel like I'm leaving Gordon a completely changed person, and I wonder how I'd be different if I was graduating from a large state university where I was just a face in the crowd. I think that Gordon has prepared me to face the world, thinking in terms of what ought to be done and how I can play a role in making the ought the reality.
Another slogan that Gordon likes to use is "preparing the people of God for the work of God", and I truly feel that, as I graduate from this wonderful institution, I am significantly more understanding of what that slogan truly means that when I first started.