The other day I found myself thinking back to a particularly interesting conversation I had with one of my former co-workers a couple of years ago.
“I used to be really awkward around non-Christians…” He said.
“What?! No way, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
I couldn’t believe that statement. He was and still is one of the most missional guys that I know, and that was the last thing I’d ever expected him to say. But he explained, and I listened, and an interesting story began to emerge.
He’d gotten saved somewhere around high school, so by the time he started college at The University of Texas, he did what most college Christians logically do when they start school – he plugged into a campus ministry. More than one actually.
Before long, he was running bible studies, leading mission trips, active in church and became that super Christian college guy that everyone looks up to. But somewhere in the midst of all these great activities and hanging out with other Christians, something strange happened.
“It was like all of a sudden I couldn’t connect with other students around me. I didn’t know the music or movies or other things that people were interested in, and now I was the awkward guy who couldn’t relate to regular people.” He said. “That’s when I knew it was time to change.”
College is a tricky field to navigate for Christians. It’s an incredible place filled with some of the most amazing and interesting people and teachers that you will ever meet in your life. It’s also a place where many fear students will enter as Christians and leave as heathens.
But while there are admittedly things that we don’t want Christian students to get involved in like drugs or alcoholism, the reality is in a bid to avoid these “trappings of society,” Christians can also go to the other extreme.
I’m not saying going to church or a campus ministry or bible study is bad. But if it gets to the point where all you’re doing is hanging around other Christians, is that really what God has called you to? What use then is having a testimony if you don’t interact with the people who really need to hear it?
Getting Out Of The Box
The day my friend realized his irrelevance also marked the day he started truly living on mission. He immediately cut back on ministry activities and leadership duties, and I’m sure several people thought he had gone off the deep end. But the truth is he had hit upon an important realization: if he wanted to reach people, he needed to make time for them, and learn about them.
In short, he needed to get out of the box.
Whether we realize it or not, I think a lot of us Christians inadvertently put ourselves in boxes a lot. We assume that being a good Christian means never hanging out with others who could be bad or wrong influences, but maybe we need a mindset check. What if instead of worrying that we’ll be changed, we start thinking of ourselves as the ones who will BRING change?
We need to remember that in every aspect of our lives, we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors to the world. (2 Cor 5:20) We’re the ones who need to be out there sharing God’s love and sharing our lives as living testimonies for all to see. And just like an ambassador ventures out from his homeland to a foreign nation, so we too must be willing to leave the 4 walls of a church and get into our community.
Relating With A Purpose
My friend went from someone who only knew how to talk to other Christians, to someone who now hangs out with non-Christians a majority of the time. He grabs a drink with them, plays video games, watches movies and discusses music and politics.
He’s still the same guy he’s always been who loves Jesus and wants to see friends and families saved. The only difference is that he went from feebly attempting to bring people to church with him to BEING the church wherever he goes. And because of that, he’s seen guys willing to study the bible with him, and witnessed several friends come to Christ.
My point today is this might be you. You might be the person who’s doing all the ministry stuff and being a “good Christian.” But if I’m right, then there’s probably also a part of you that feels like something is amiss, and wondering why you don’t have those cool stories about seeing people meet Jesus like some of those other Christians have.
My solution to that is simple, and better yet, comes straight from Jesus – Go. Go into all the world and share the good news. (Mark 16:15) Right now your world might be the college campus, your work place, your club, or dorm. Whatever it is, you need to go.
So grab a friend, start praying and start sharing. Words may sometimes fall on deaf ears, but an unspoken testimony reaches no one at all. Don’t let that be the case with you.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org