This week's edition of the Cru blog comes from Jeff Grant, College Missionary and Partnership Specialist on Cru's Student LINC Team.
Few people enjoy conflict. We want to get along with others, and it is much easier to stick to topics where we can agree, or at least pretend to agree. But is that stopping you from sharing your faith? Does the fear of offending someone keep you from saying anything at all?
It’s a valid concern. The truth is, we might offend people. The gospel asks for a person to change, and that can be a tough pill to swallow. Others might take offense at the need for a Savior or to bow to a Lord. In fact, Jesus pretty much promises that people will be angry at His message (Luke 21:12-19).
When concern for keeping things pleasant keeps you from talking about Jesus, you might need to do a heart check on the following priorities:
Choosing comfort over JESUS.
This is probably the most obvious one. Jesus commanded us to tell people about Him (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). Even though He already owns us, having created us, Jesus traded the infinite comfort of Heaven for the brutal death of a criminal all for our sake, to exchange the eternal punishment we deserve for eternal restoration and a meaningful part in His rescue mission to the world. Will we shrug at all of that and go back to wasting our time in comfort? I don’t believe we can lose the gift we did not earn, but I am both chilled and inspired by Jesus’ promise in Matthew 10:28-33.
Choosing comfort over LOVE.
It’s funny that we’re afraid to tell people about Jesus, because not only does it glorify God, but it is also the most important and awesome information someone could ever get! A famous atheist, Penn Jillette, once said, “How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
When you discover a new TV show or piece of technology, do you keep it to yourself or do you “like” it “share” it and email it to everybody you know? We should always be sensitive to another person’s thoughts and feelings, but it comes back to being motivated by love and filled with the Holy Spirit. If those things are true, then you will listen well and meet them where they are rather than deliver a faceless, one-size-fits-all, prepackaged gospel message.
Choosing comfort over YOURSELF.
A friend of mine recently asked, “why are the things of this world so much more tempting and tangible than the things of God?” It’s a great question, and toward the end of my response, I realized that my best answer to that feeling is to follow Henry Blackaby’s advice to “see where God is at work and join Him.” You’re not going to experience God moving through you if you aren’t willing to step into the current of what He is doing. God is about rescuing the lost, and if we want to be a part of this story (what we were made for), we need to ante in.
So if you’ve looked at all those things, and put comfort aside for the greater cause, is it still possible to get it wrong? (Matthew 7:22-23)
In his book, With, Skye Jethani talks about the many poor postures we can have toward God (such as “over God” or “against God”). A surprisingly bad posture though is living “for God.” We can serve Him relentlessly but never know Him. Living “with” God does involve plenty of hard work and sacrifice, but God cares more about a loving relationship with Him than simply what He can get out of us. Don’t forget, He doesn’t need us at all (Matthew 3:9).
Consider starting with a “sometime” question. Ask a friend or family member, “could we sit down sometime so I can hear about your thoughts and experiences about spiritual stuff? I’d love to share mine with you as well.” When you do have that conversation, be ready to ask good questions and listen well. Then, tell themyour story and be sure to include how the Bible says they can know God personally.
Remember, the greatest tool we have is the love and kindness of Jesus. No matter how offensive the thought of changing or of needing a Savior may be, many people are disarmed by an act of love.
This week's post comes from Ashley Tripp, a University of Alabama alumni, who posted for Cru.org. As you read, ask yourself, "Do I need to hear this?" or "Is there an incoming freshman I could encourage this with?"
A growing trend reveals that college freshmen aren’t just preparing a goodbye speech to their families, but to their faith as well.
Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic, “[Freshmen] leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don’t go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they’re surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all.”
However, because I attended a university in the heart of the Bible Belt, it came as no surprise to see many college students dressed in their Sunday best for church. But what did come as a shock to me was how these church attenders behaved the remaining six days of the week.
Attending church doesn’t make one a Christian, and yet, this is a lie many college students believe.
Even as someone who grew up in a Christian family, I struggled too with living out my faith instead of saving it for Sundays. Certain barriers pushed me away from experiencing the fullness of my relationship with Jesus. The majority of my first semester revolved around sorority life, school, dance and Alabama football. I didn’t get plugged in a campus ministry because I would make up excuses. I was becoming a part of the growing trend of saying goodbye to my faith.
Who knew I would need a spiritual survival kit in addition to my freshman survival kit?
It wasn’t until the spring of my sophomore year that I settled down and became invested with Bama Cru, Cru’s campus ministry at Alabama.
At Bama Cru, staff member Jeff Norris is “convinced that the greatest need that incoming college freshmen have is to explore and develop the spiritual area of their life.”
“One of the best ways to do this is in the context of community,” Jeff said. “Often times, freshmen are curious about faith and want to develop their spiritual life, but they don’t know where to start or who to start with.”
How not to lose your faith in college
Pursuing a relationship with Jesus and living out one’s faith seemed to be a thing of the past as I looked around at the brokenness on campus. Most students don’t come into college thinking they’ll lose their faith. But then to-do lists pile up, and it becomes a backburner. However, I found that my faith actually strengthened during college once I became more intentional about my activities.
These are a couple of things I found helpful:
1. Get Plugged Into a Ministry
Whatever your theological background, get plugged in with a group of solid believers who love God and love people. I chose to become involved with Bama Cru, Campus Crusade for Christ’s chapter at Alabama. Surrounding myself with a community of believers, I created relationships and gained a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. It wasn’t until college when I realized Christianity was not just a certain religion, but also a relationship with Jesus.
2. Take On a Leadership Role
Are you passionate about your faith? Seek after a leadership role on campus. I became my sorority’s chaplain and spread the love of Jesus Christ among my Gamma Phi Beta sisters. Some of my friends from Bama Cru led a six-week video series from Matt Chandler on dating, relationships and sex based off of the book of Song of Songs in the Bible. Open to anyone, the series was held at different sorority houses each week. In addition, my sorority collaborated with another sorority for a Bible study on Marian Jordan’s book, “Radiance.”
3. Attend a Summer Project
The summer before my senior year in college, I went on Greek Summit, a summer project led by Cru staff in Destin, Fla. There, I met over 100 college students from across the nation. The purpose of the mission trip was to learn how live out one’s faith and how to become an influence in your sorority or fraternity. It was probably the best two weeks of my college career. I learned a great deal about the Gospel and what it looks like to share one’s faith with your sorority sisters.
4. Make it a Priority
Reading the Bible and attending church is what “Culture Christianity” tells society is the right way to practice Christianity. I’ve discovered it’s a daily walk and a personal relationship. When I wake up, I do my best to make it a priority to spend time with God, not in a routine manner or because it’s my duty as a Christian, but because God is my reason for living. It’s almost like brushing your teeth. Do you brush your teeth because it’s a part of your routine, or do you do it so that your teeth won’t rot away?
With enough passion and perseverance, it is possible to live out your faith into your college experience.
Below is a true story of how God changed one freshman's life. As you read, ask yourself, "where do I find myself in this story?" This fall, might you, like AJ, have an opportunity to help a freshman like Sam discover what really matters? Or, are you more like Sam? Could God be calling you to find true, lasting satisfaction in Him?
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of this upcoming freshman class, and pray that God would open their hearts to Him and His great love!
When Sam attended his first week of college, he was not looking for a Christian group, in fact it was not on his radar at all.
Raised in a Christian family, he routinely went to Sunday School and youth group. However, when he started high school, he questioned the reality of God. By year 12 he was less interested in church, starting on a destructive path fueled by the approval of friends and lust of the world.
After an unexpected break-up with a girlfriend, Sam was shaken. He says: “I was dating a girl from youth group. She went to some camp, came back and didn’t talk to me for a week. She said ‘God’s telling me that it’s not His plan for us to be together.’ I was like, ‘He didn’t tell me that!’ I took it really bad.” Sam found solace in drinking. During his gap year after high school, he began clubbing, eventually pushing boundaries by experimenting with drugs like ecstasy. “I wasn’t happy. I knew something was wrong,” says Sam.
When the first week of classes rolled around, it had been two years since Sam attended church. That week, Cru ran a booth where they handed out spirituality surveys. Sam filled one out. A few days later, he received a call from a missionary AJ. Although hesitant to meet AJ, Sam did. Through their first meeting, God began to turn Sam’s life around.
AJ was there to listen, but strongly prompted Sam to make a decision about what he already knew to do. Sam checked out his first Cru group meeting and was refreshed by people different from his friends. They were not trying to impress each other and talked about things that really mattered. Sam started attending church again.
Sam began to recognize his sensual life of lust and drugs was eating him alive, and he could not break free. He says: “During the worship session I was on my knees and was crying; I was a mess. I knew something wasn’t right--something had to change. I remember surrendering my life to God.” From that moment the pleasures that consumed him lost power, and he began seeing victory over the sins that had plagued him.
The satisfaction Sam finds in pleasing God far outweighs his old habits, and he now lives with a passion to do what God is calling him to do. He lives in the ecstasy of new life in Jesus. Having open, honest and accountable friends from Cru has been a huge encouragement. Furthermore, being discipled by AJ has made a lasting impact on Sam’s life.
He says: “Every time I share my story, it just reminds me I have a lot to be thankful for. It’s God that has brought me this far. I can never go back.”
Sam is now happily married to a wonderful young lady named Eldora.
This story was written by Gina Liu on June 25 2012. You can find more stories like it at www.cru.org.
A community where Jesus Christ captures hearts, transforms lives, and launches men and women into a life long adventure with Him.