You have turned in your last paper and taken your last exam. Now you are packing up and heading home for the summer. While summer is a nice break from school, the summer can be a disastrous downward spiral to growing spiritually. You may have taken monumental steps of growth in your Christian walk, but, depending on how you use your summer, you can end up going completely backwards. You see, Satan doesn’t take the summer off, and neither should you. Peter tells us,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8
We not only struggle against our rebellious desires; we have an enemy who longs to destroy us in any way he can (Ephesians 6:11-12). He creeps into our lives, tempting us with those things we once loved and now find shameful. He tries to convince us of the lies that we once believed.
Maybe you are a new Christian and you are going back home for the first time since giving your life to Jesus. Your former friend group is now a tool in our enemy’s hands to try and draw you back to the life you once lived. You do not have the kind of Christian community at home that you did at school.
Don’t be nervous or afraid! Your summer doesn’t have to mean setbacks in your Christian walk. Here is what you need to do:
- Continually go back to the Gospel
This summer, the most important thing you need to do is to go back to the Gospel. We are so tempted to forget what Jesus has done in our place and how that changes everything, so we need to be reminded. How can you be reminded? I’m glad you asked. The Gospel is seen most clearly in the Bible. You need to go back to the Bible in order to be reminded of the Gospel. You need to make time to be reminded of how Jesus has loved you and what that means for your life. The community of faith plays a key role in this as well. You need to sit under Gospel preaching, and you need to be in a community that points you back to the Gospel. If this means getting into a small group Bible study, then do it. If it means going through a book of the Bible with two other friends, then do it. Whatever you need to do, in order that the truth of the Gospel is put before you, do it. If you need help finding good resources, let me know.
- Take the role of community seriously
You need community. Our culture would have you believe that you are merely the sum of your own individual choices. This is not entirely true. The choices you have made do, in fact, shape who you are, but the communities in which you were born into or associate with shape you even more. The people we hang around shape our thinking and our actions. In light of this, get into a Jesus-centered church this summer. Your life depends on it. You need accountability—that is, truth in the context of a relationship. You need the encouragement of other believers. All these things are found in the Christian church. If you need help finding a good church in your area, contact me.
- Understand that the mission of Christ is not a college-only task
Don’t simply be on the defensive this summer, get to work! You have not been called out of darkness to avoid darkness. You have been called out of darkness to shine light into darkness. Don’t be tempted to think that you are on a break from Jesus and His mission. Christ is Lord over all of your life, including your summer. Yes, I know, the summer is a break from school, and you should definitely rest. But rest doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. You have a tremendous opportunity to minister wherever you are for the summer. Invest where you are! Seek to have Gospel conversations with your co-workers, hometown friends and family; now is your chance. Pray for opportunities and then step out in faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and leave the results up to God. Leverage your summer for the mission of God.
As a Christian, the summer may be harder than the school year, but it doesn’t have to be. So, in between your Netflix binges, I challenge you to take these three steps this summer. Don’t simply float through your summer, be proactive.
-Jon Sheets (College Pastor)