Two days ago, as I walked across the campus of High Point University, I observed eager students bustling about getting ready for the first day of classes. Many were still moving futons into dorms and taking last minute trips to Target to pick up that all-so-important (but usually forgotten) shower caddie. Others, you could tell, were catching up with friends and already making plans for the weekend.
Now that school is back in session I am reminded again of the formative decisions that college students make on a regular basis. What major should I choose? Do I join a sorority? Should I date her? How many classes can I actually skip?
One question, though, for many students is…what will I do about my faith? Sadly, many students who come into college with a Christian upbringing simply walk away in pursuit of something else. In an article on the Gospel Coalition this week, Derek Rishmawy summarized well the mindset of many “Christian” students as they enter college:
I’ve been a good kid in high school. I’ve done my homework, been to Bible study, and didn’t mess around too much or anything. Now, though, I really want to go out and enjoy myself a bit. The “college experience” is calling, and I can’t be expected to go and not let loose a little bit. I mean, I really love Jesus and my faith will always be a big part of my life, but you know, I’ll just go off for a bit, maybe a semester or two, have my fun, and then be back around. You’ll see.
Rishmawy says that many students have concocted this “neutral time” where he or she thinks “your walk with Jesus is something you can leave alone for a while and, once you’ve done your own thing for a bit, pick up again.”
To spotlight the absurdity of this sentiment, Rishmawy surmises the following scenario.
Imagine one day I looked at my wife and said, “Honey, for the next few months we’re going to cut back on this whole ‘communication’ thing. I love you, and our relationship is really, really important to me, but you shouldn’t expect more than a text message every couple of days. I’ll be out traveling with the guys, catching up on hobbies, and just having a good time. When I’m done, though, we’ll pick it up seriously just like it is now.” Again, does anybody think this approach will actually work?
Why is it, though, that so many (once seemingly) faithful followers of Jesus think it’s “OK” to put Jesus on the shelf for a couple years. Rishmawy continues.
For some, it’s probably because we have an overly cognitive idea of faith where, if we keep believing certain propositions (with no necessary correlation to behaviors or habits), we can be confident we’re still Christian. It could be a trivialized version of assurance where we think, Well, you know, I prayed that prayer, and I’m not explicitly ditching Jesus, so it’s all good. Or maybe they’ve so compartmentalized their faith that they’ve disconnected from the real world. Whatever the case, because faith is a part of reality, things don’t work that way.
The sad (and for some students harsh) reality is this: “The Bible nowhere imagines an ‘off season’ to faith. Please don’t fool yourself into believing you’re special. Jesus is calling you to abide…Right now.”
This weekend at Mercy Hill we are hosting College Connect (after both the 11:00 and 5:00 services). This is an opportunity for you – as a college student – to connect to the life of Mercy Hill Church and see all that we have to offer for college students. I’m not sure where you’re at. Maybe you are that student who has embraced the “magical myth of neutral time” and you’re ready to take a break from Jesus. Or maybe you don’t believe in Jesus. Regardless, I am pleading with you to at least consider coming to College Connect. It could just be the decision that changes the course of your next three or four years…maybe even your life.
– Jeremy Dager (Pastor of Age-based Ministries)