Leaving home for the first time is a college student’s Independence Day. Being in college myself, I can say that college (for most) provides an opportunity to live on your own, fully as your own person. You are no longer under your parents’ umbrella. You are in control of your own destiny and your own umbrella.
It’s a very exciting – and yet daunting – experience. New responsibilities shift our priorities. Work, school, social circles, and hobbies can take over, until we just get lost in the busyness of life. We become drained and depleted, which leaves us feeling aimless. Something that directly contributes to this sense of lostness is the lack of priority we tend to place on church, as being involved in church and serving others somehow seems less important once you have your independence. However, Jesus has a more beautiful way of living. Rather than just going through the motions, Jesus calls for a relationship with us. As you leave your house, remember that the church, and ultimately Jesus, offers a better and more meaningful way of life.
Now, I’m not saying if you just show up and go through the motions at church, you’ll automatically have a better life, or all your problems will be solved. Actually, having that mentality is an easy way to get burned out. However, if your heart is focused on loving Jesus Christ and serving His church body, then you will be fulfilling the calling God has for your life. Matthew 18:20 says that “where two or more are gathered, the Spirit of the Lord will be there also.” The Spirit of God does supernatural things. When you worship and devote time to church with your brothers and sisters in Christ, you will be liberated from the chains of the world and will experience true freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
When I say freedom, I don’t mean freedom from all other responsibilities or freedom from temptation. The enemy desperately wants us to stray from church, because he does not want us to live a beautiful life filled with victory. He wants to entice us with other priorities, that may not be altogether “bad” but will slowly lead us away from the church.
In the current climate, depression and thoughts of hopelessness run rampant. Some feel paralyzed, and the lies will say to stay at home on Sunday, or go and don’t invest, which will eventually lead you to staying home anyway. Church ceases to seem “worth it” if you just attend on cruise control. The battle to pursue the way of Christ is hard, for myself included. However, the good news is that we have a God who has given us ways to win and make this life more beautiful. An example of an amazing pathway to victory is the Grace Care and Counseling ministry. If depression or anxiety has a stronghold in your life, spiritual counseling could equip you to understand yourself and allow for healing and restoration. It should not be the last option, for though it’s hard and vulnerable, it is a path to spiritual victory and should actually be our first option!
If you are struggling, don’t allow the desires of the world to overcome you. I pray this over all of you who take on the mission to serve: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
Jesus doesn’t ask you to “have it all together” before coming to church. He simply wants your heart, and He wants your devotion. Find a church community and serve with the heart and passion of Christ. There will be tough weeks, but continue to see it through. God is already on the other side of the battle. He doesn’t expect your perfection; He just wants your willingness.
No one can make you invest your heart in church. As you obtain independence from your parents, seek dependence on God. Be encouraged to have your own relationship with God and spiritual freedom will come. The way to start is simple: Wake up, show up, and ask God for strength to serve His Kingdom and His church. Your life will become more beautiful the more you embrace the beauty of your calling to know and love Christ.