A while ago I reckoned that every student falls into at least one of three categories; Idealistic, Hedonist and Legalistic (Success/Work driven). Looking back it seems I never expanded on the Hedonists, but I still stand by my basic thesis of 3 types of students, and by implication 3 approaches to engaging those students with the Gospel.
Have just been on camp and shared some of these thoughts with students and those heading to Uni this year. My advice was to encourage Christian students to reach fellow students by embracing and redeeming these ways of being a student.
The Hedonist says “I am God”, the reason for living is pleasure… sex, money, good nights out, getting wasted, drugs, raves. In fact whatever you want… so long as it feels good. Work hard, or stay in bed… either way, play hard!
The Christian says… Jesus has saved me not to live a boring life, but to live life to the full (John 10:10), but equally not a life lived for my pleasure, but for God’s pleasure (see Eric Liddell). The Christian knows that God is creator and sustainer and gives good gifts for man to enjoy (Ps. 104).
The Idealist says “we are God”, join a society, get involved in student politics, ban anything made by Nestle, support Palestine, pro-choice and gay rights. If we all work together then we can work for good, there’s probably no god, and religion causes all kinds of evil, so we better get on and fix it ourselves!
The Christian says… we’re not God, but I know the God who made all and loves His creation. My God calls me to speak up for those without a voice, to speak up against injustice (Prov 31:8-9). You can champion causes that many ignore; unborn children, the elderly, persecuted Christians… Christians are people who speak up!
The Legalist says “work is God”, living to please parents, justified by my performance. I go to lectures in the day, free periods in the library, and work in the evenings and the weekend. Life outside of work is non-existence, friends don’t get a look in, all in search of the acceptance of the parents, and a high power, high money career.
The Christian says… I have a loving Father who accepts me not because of my performance, but because of Jesus’ performance. The only person I have to please with my work is God (Col 3:23-24)… so Christian, work hard but not for your own glory and acceptance, but for your true master in heaven.
If you’re starting Uni this September then here’s 3 top tips to get you started on the right foot:
- Get to know your new flat mates, course mates and join societies to meet people of mutual interest. The first few weeks is the best time for meeting new people and sharing your faith. Get involved in what’s going on, go to freshers fair, go to the pub, be all things to all people, but flee immorality.
- Set down the markers. Let people know to whom you belong. Don’t be ashamed of being a Christian, people don’t tend to be judgmental when they’ve just met you! Be like Daniel (Dan 1:8), let people know what drives you, who you’re living for, and when that means you have to say no.
- Find a Church, that will love you, teach you the Bible, give you examples to follow, and help you to live for Jesus at Uni – you can find one here. Don’t forget to check out your Christian Union too, it’s not a replacement for Church, but a good place to meet fellow Christian students as you seek to share the good news of Jesus with your university together – find out more from UCCF.