When a Christian Doesn't Want to Live Like One in College
December 1, 2014
I’m headed up the road to participate in tomorrow’s live Mortification of Spin panel at Cairn University. This is going to be an interesting conversation. The topic is “Getting Through College Without Becoming a Heathen.”
Again, I find myself coming to the discussion with a noteworthy difference from my two cohosts, and probably many of the students attending a Christian university. I went to a secular university and, for the first 2+ years, was not living anywhere close to the Christian that I professed to be. While I may have looked like I had high standards compared to the “heathens” that I hung out with, you could look at my college life and predict that I was going to be one myself by the time I graduated.
But that’s not what happened. I was partying with my four roommates one night my Junior year, and it hit me. What hit me? Well, it wasn’t a voice from God and it wasn’t a snowball with rocks in it (got hit with a couple of those this weekend). It was the meaninglessness, the outright rebellion, and stupidity of what I was doing. I remember thinking that I just plain wasn’t living according to who I am. I thought I was being authentic, having been sick of hypocrisy. I thought I got a pass because I was young. I had all along been planning to eventually straighten up my act and become a responsible Christian adult when it was time to settle down and get a real job and all that good stuff.
But that’s not how it goes.
And even in the pathetically immature state that I was in, I could see that a little more clearly that night. You don’t live in sin and then magically develop Christian character to be a good wife, mom, neighbor, or coworker. I was becoming someone whom I didn’t profess to be. I professed to be a sinner rescued by the almighty Son of God. But I was living like someone enslaved to sin. Things had to change. That wasn’t who I was.
And I believe the Holy Spirit had been pressing me to that honest self-evaluation. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. Although I hadn’t been there in close to four years, the ministry of the Word was still powerfully working in me. It was powerful enough to work in me in the middle of a night partying with a group of college girls.
And so I found a church. I wish I could say that church greeted me, that someone invited me over or asked me to come to one of their study groups. I wish I could say that I could even remember the pastor’s name, or one sermon that he preached, or even remember one face that I sat beside in a pew. I don’t. It was actually a pretty crummy church in that way. I’m sure that inviting me to be a part of the church life and community would have made a wonderful difference in my growth and decision making as I finished at the university. I was ignored, albeit a few greetings and smiles.
But I kept going, even though my roommates were beginning to wonder what the heck had gotten into me. I began reading my Bible again, found a Christian bookstore, and even did Bible studies with a roommate. God’s Word didn’t go out void.
It took a long time for me to get a good understanding of the church. I didn't know about the beauty of the covenant community of God's people loving and serving together. But I can say that I’m one who came into college looking like a heathen, and left looking like a stumbling, growing, eager Christian. I think there are many out there like me, who grew up in the church and for one reason or another faded out. That kind of person probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. But if you live near a college or university, your church has an opportunity. You can bring the gospel to many who may have never heard it. Or you may be able to call some back who are backslidden.
Reach out to the colleges. Offer rides. Offer meals. Offer friendship. But most of all, offer the faithful ministry of the preached Word and administration of the sacraments. After all, it is he who promised who is faithful.