Ask A Chaplain- How can I put Jesus at the centre of my life while I’m at university?

One of three guest blog posts that I did at McGill Christians Blog in which myself and some others were asked different questions surrounding questions that students had.

How can I put Jesus at the centre of my life while I’m at university?

This boils down to 3 different things that you need to understand deeply in your heart that will help you keep Jesus at the centre of your life in university.

  1. Gospel
  2. Being led by the Spirit
  3. Being part of Community

1. Gospel

What is the gospel?

The Gospel is the means by which we turn our affections from selfishness to God, from being wholly focused on me to being focused and amazed by God. It is literally good news, and the good news is the story of God and humanity. That is Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration.

Creation

God creates everything, and declares it good! He creates an amazing world with no sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, suffering, any of that. He creates mankind which was for whom the whole world was created for. God places His image into us, and He gave us the whole world to work and enjoy.

Fall

Man rejects God’s law and follows himself, through the temptation of the snake, that is the devil. We are now “naked and ashamed” because our selfishness lays exposed to God. We are now born with “dirty hearts” (as I tell my kids) or born with the stain of sin. We know intrinsically that there is a problem, and we do everything we can to solve this problem apart from God, but we cannot.

Redemption

The rest of the story of Scripture talks about God’s pursuit of man. Notice the order, God pursues man. We have glimpses of the rescue through many different narrative accounts throughout Scriptures. But eventually, God sends His only Son to come and live the perfect life that we could not. To die the death that we deserve, so that we can live with a reward that should only belong to Jesus. God solves our problem of sin.

Restoration

God makes all things new through the work of the cross. We are now given a new identity because of what Jesus has done, not on our merit but on the merit of Jesus. In other words, Jesus came to live the life that we could not, to die the death that we should have died, so that we can have reward that we do not deserve. 1 Peter 2:24, “For He Himself bore our sins, in His body, on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by his wounds we are healed.” Because of this we are given a new identity, we are given new family! By merit of believing that this is what Jesus did, we now have a new identity, we are part of a new family, and at the head of this family is a deeply loving father.

One day, He will restore things to how they were, an amazing world with no sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, suffering, or death!

Myself, and I’m sure other campus leaders can tell you story after story of students who are incredibly smart, have their whole life and careers planned, and find that their grades are slipping. When this happens, I have seen students slip into a depression and massive identity crises.

Why?

Because their whole lives, all of their high school courses and marks were because they had a certain career track set up for them. Now that is all in jeopardy because of some bad marks. How does the gospel respond to this?

We in order for the gospel to be part of life survival, we need to move it from a noun, to a verb. From a person, place or thing, or set of beliefs that we agree to to something that is moving in our hearts.

If your grades slip for whatever reason, the gospel responds to this by reminding us first and foremost who we are, because of what Jesus has done. Because you have believed in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, you are his beloved son or daughter. Just because you have bad marks, does not change that identity. You cannot simply cease being a son or daughter of God. Work hard for your marks, but understand that your future career, your security, your worth as a person is not wrapped up in who you become, or by your marks, but rather by who you are on the merits of Jesus dying for you.

Romans 6:4 tells us, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

2. Spirit-led

We need the Holy Spirit. We need to begin to understand what it is to be Spirit-led. Remember it is not Father, Son, Holy Scriptures, but rather Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a teacher, a guide, a giver of gifts, and needs to lead and direct our lives.

It is because of the Holy Spirit that we have boldness to witness and testify to the goodness of the Spirit. The Spirit helps remind our hearts about the truths of the gospel. The whole role of the Spirit is to testify and highlight Jesus.

There is no telling what or how the Spirit may use you in your classes, with your roommates, friends and family. Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Acts 6:10, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”

Practically speaking, He is the one who strengthens and enables us to do what we need to do!

3. Being Part of Community

This can never be emphasized enough. We were not created to go through life alone. I know many of the ministers, and leaders of the campus groups, and I know that they would all agree just how vital it is for you to be plugged in somewhere. The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself from everyone else.

Some find community through small groups,  some its missional communities, there are different expressions, but the goals are often the same. The one thing that we have heard consistently, is when believers isolated themselves from the community that God has placed them in, it impacted them greatly on being able to work through all of life’s stresses. Community is so vitally important! You need people to remind you of your identity in Christ, you need people to pray with you, to encourage you, we were just made for people!