Soon, my Facebook feed will be filled with statuses like, “Does anyone have the book for EN 101?” Or “My new roommate is _________!!” Or “Only three weeks of summer left!”
Cue panic attack. Don’t worry – you still have time to get your textbooks and make your schedule. But a new semester is fast approaching!
Perhaps you’ve enjoyed a less stressful summer. Good for you. But you know how you get during the craziness of the semester – panic attacks, maybe some crying (might as well admit to it, guys). Perhaps you’re going to be a brand-new college freshman! Congrats! This goes out to you, freshies…
Don’t stress. No matter how crazy it gets, don’t stress. Why?
I’m a professional stresser. But God has been teaching me some things this summer that I’d like to share with you as we begin a new semester. I hope they’ll help you see the refreshing reality that is a risen Jesus.
Here’s four refreshing realities for stressed new students:
1. God gives people different passions and opinions – it’s okay!
Guess what? People at college will be different from you! Your roommate may get on your nerves, your classmate may be a jerk, and your professor may totally refute your valid argument.
People will disagree with you. And that’s okay!
This is so refreshing – you are not right 100% of the time! And there are a whole host of issues that people can disagree on within Christianity and still be okay. Because God does not make it clear in Scripture. Obviously, doctrine cannot be differed on. But a whole bunch of preferences can.
Maybe God gave them that passion or that opinion so they can reach some unsaved person with that weird opinion for the Gospel.
Maybe God made them more of a hick to reach the hicks. Maybe they’re more hipster to reach the hipsters.
It’s kinda cool how God does that. And it frees us to stop trying to change people’s opinions on things that don’t really matter and focus instead on witnessing to the people God’s put in our path because of our interests or perspectives. Spend your time trying to make disciples of the people in your path as you “go” into college (Matt. 28:19-20).
2. God made you weird – embrace it.
Yep, you’re weird. I could tell with one look.
I wasted so much time trying to be “Mr. Cool” or “Mr. Sporty.” I’m neither and never will be.
I can’t catch a football if it was thrown to me across a table, much less a field. I find more enjoyment watching Congressional debates on the budget than the Superbowl.
I also like llamas. I’m pretty obsessed. I have like seven stuffed ones in my office, car, and apartment.
I’m weird. And I tried to convince people otherwise – but now, I just don’t care. God made me weird. Oh well!
Christians will always be very weird to the world. If we’re not, we better check to make sure we’re acting like Christians!
Don’t waste your life trying to be cool or something you’re not. If you’re naturally hip and awesome, please be that way. If you’re naturally a goober, be the most Christ-like goober you can be!
3. God really, really loves you in Christ – live like it!
Now, I don’t say that as a sort-of “Veggie-Tales-feel-goody” pep talk. I’m not into making people feel good when they’re actually not.
So let me get this straight – you are a vile, wicked person. Yep. You don’t deserve to be given a used toothbrush, much less God’s grace.
But He’s given it to you anyway.
In Christ, you and I are forgiven. Of every last one of our nasty sins.
I don’t understand it. I certainly don’t deserve it. And I still wallow in the sins I’ve been forgiven of and need a good smack and clean-up from time to time (or all the time).
But Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so!
You’re a big boy now, heading off to college. Awesome! But never get over that simple kids’ song. It’s so, so true!
Jesus didn’t save you and now regret it because He sees how messed up you are. He didn’t save you only to tolerate you now – love you but not really like you. As Matt Chandler so powerfully puts it, “You don’t disgust Him.”
He really, really loves you.
“But Matt, if you tell people this, they’re just going to live however they want because God just loves them and nothing can change that.”
Actually, not. If you and I truly understand how amazing it is that God loved us and sent His Son to die for us, we will not do whatever we want. We will not be lawless. We will live loving Him!
You don’t truly understand that Jesus died for you if you don’t want to live for Him!
So tell yourself, especially when you mess up – “Jesus loves me!” You’re gonna mess up at college – expect it. Grades will be worse than ideal, you’ll fall back into the sin you said you’d leave behind in high school…but Jesus loves you.
Learn that Gospel more and more in college. No matter your major, that’s a great thing to study.
At the end of every day this semester, God will still love you the same incredible amount as He did when that day started. Nothing you did that day will affect that.
That’s freeing for those of us who are legalistic perfectionists. It’s motivating to those of us who are licentious lazies. And most of us are both simultaneously.
So here’s my simple advice as we finish summer and enter another crazy school year.
Welcome everyone – even those you disagree with (Rom. 14:1). Don’t try to be someone you’re not just for approval (Gal. 1:10). And through it all, trust Jesus (Prov. 3:5-7).
You’ll get through this semester fine with Him.
Welcome to college!