It is beyond encouraging to see the rise of gospel-centered Christianity once again. Time and time again, after a cycle of healthy church activity and spirit-filled life, a large percentage of the world comes down from the high of a gospel revival and experiences a Christian identity crisis. People start carrying the title of Christian, in name only, without any of the new creation transformation. As A. W. Tozer would say, these people have received the message of the gospel in word only and not in power.
One has only to look at our colleges and universities to get a glimpse of where this decay in gospel-centered living may begin. According to research done by the Barna Group, 60% of twenty-somethings were once involved in church but now no longer are. Even more surprising is that 78% of this same age group claim to be Christian. The numbers do not really add up. If 78% of college students were spirit-filled, gospel-centered Christians, the name of Jesus would be emanating with a triumphant voice from all of our campuses… but it is not.
Studies overwhelmingly show a great secularization and liberalization of college students in terms of philosophy and ideals. Not only that, but students also deal with the image of keg parties, sex and drug experimentation, and frat hazing as “rites of passage”. Anyone who is Facebook friends with many college students who were once steady churchgoers has been met with this sobering reality. Unfortunately, the typical Christian teen that moves from youth group to college is subject to the same pressures as a non-Christian. The desire to be accepted and to free oneself from his/her parents is such an incredible force. Over time, the growing separation of the parental guiding hand makes it easier for the student to disobey their moral compass.
The truth is, we have a Father in Heaven that continually surrounds us and wants to protect us “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” (Luke 13:34b) We forget these truths daily and make ourselves unaware of His presence. Our forgetfulness is a glaring sign of our need for Christian community. Our Father has placed our Christian brothers and sisters in our lives to continually remind us of the gospel and of His presence. In community, not only are we reminded of His presence, but “where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”(Matt 18:20) It is apparent that He draws ever closer in community.
For us gospel-centered college students, the Father’s presence continually reminds us of His acceptance. To be reminded of this is to be reminded that we no longer are pressured to fulfill the “rites of passage” of peer acceptance. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have ultimate acceptance from our Father, Creator, and God. When we are constantly aware of our justification, we are emboldened on our campuses to live the life of new creation and to share the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ with our fellow students so that they may find the same gospel-centered life that accepts and completes us in the only meaningful way.
In this vein, I would like to invite you out to Mercy Hill’s College Connect event this Sunday directly after the service. We must band together in the Triad to devote ourselves to mission through speaking the Word and living in the power of the Spirit. We must stand together and encourage each other; celebrating each other’s triumphs over the pressures of the world and praying for each other’s future strength when we falter.
You can check out the details here.