Are you a student about to head off to college? (Or a parent about to see your baby go off to college?) Do you want to see your faith not just survive in this new stage of life, but thrive? You may ask, what is the most important thing to my faith, and the answer may surprise you…relationships.
In your life there are, and will be, many important relationships that will have a major impact in developing who you are and what you do. As you go through your college years, there are two relationships that you need to prioritize: With Jesus and with fellow followers of Jesus.
One of the top reasons young people “lose” their faith is because their faith was never theirs to begin with. Many young people who grow up in the church will cling to their parent’s faith or assume that they are Christian because they go to church. For those of who this is true, when then leave home, they find that they have no ties and no reason to keep going to church or to pursue Jesus. That is why the most important thing you can do for your faith is to prioritize your relationship with Jesus. This is true regardless of the stage of life you are in; however, now more than ever, you will be asked to assess who you are, what you believe and what you are going to live for.
So, who are you? Who is Jesus to you? When you think of God, what comes to your mind?Start thinking about these questions now and be ready for some version of these questions to come your way this year.
When it comes down to it, if you want a confident answer for who are you, what you believe, and what are you living for, then you must prioritize your relationship with Jesus! In Jesus we find who we are, understand what we believe, and know what we live for. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And a chapter later in John 15:4-5 Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If you want to thrive in your faith, then it starts with your relationship with Jesus; remain in Him, pursue Him, spend time with Him in His word and in prayer.
The second relationship that you need to prioritize while off at school is fellow believers. One of the first things you should do in your first week in a new town is find a local church to get plugged into. Make sure it is a Bible-based church that you can get to regularly, and once you find it, commit. Make it a priority to make it to Sunday morning service, start to meet those who attend there, find a place to serve where you can use your gifts, and if they have them, join a small group or LifeGroup! On top of finding a local church, I would strongly suggest looking into the faith groups that meet on campus to see if there is a Bible study or small group that you can plug into. God created us to be in community, we are not meant to do this on our own, so if you want to see your faith grow, then you need a strong faith community around you! (Look for a community that is trying to live out Colossians 3:12-17, and Philippians 2:1-8 and similar verses.)
If you prioritize these two relationships, then I can guarantee you will see growth in your faith. In college, and for the rest of your life, there will be good days and bad, joys and trials, uncertainty and security. But for those of you who abide in Christ, stay in His Word, and stay connected to a biblical community, you will find that there is always an underlying peace and confidence that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ.
One last relationship that I want to touch on is the relationship with a significant other. Does anyone else find it odd that many of us will go to four or more years of schooling to prepare for a career, and yet most of us spend almost no time preparing ourselves to be a husband or a wife? So, as you get ready for college, one thing I strongly encourage you to do, is to put time into three things:
1. Pray – Start daily/weekly praying for your future spouse. Pray for their character and over them in general. Pray for yourself, that God would grow you into the husband/wife that you’re created to be.
2. Study God’s Word – Read passages like Ephesians 5, and pursue becoming the kind of person who looks like the description of a Godly husband/wife.
3. Keep Jesus First – If Jesus is your priority, then your relationship with a significant other will flourish as you follow Him together.
Too many people in our culture are consumed with the next date, or having a significant other, but I promise you that it is worth the effort to pursue a marriage, not just a date.
We become like those we spend the most time with – so yes, your relationships in college are important! Spend time with Jesus, spend time with those who love Jesus, and pursue a marriage that will have Christ at the center – if you do you will find a faith that thrives in college and beyond.