“As the church, we are in community together trying to fulfill this Great Commission that Jesus left us with. As we gently press into each other, we form one united thing, His church. As we work together, sharing the space God gives us to do His work, we all become shaped a little different. We all become a little more like Him.” ― Jennifer L. Lane.
As I’ve passed on from high school to college, I’ve noticed a series of distinct difference between the two. Granted, this may not be the case for all, but considering I’m contrasting a Christian education with a secular environment, there already appear to be a world of dissimilarities.
When I was in high school, pretty much everyone said exactly what they thought—for better or for worse. Classes were small and typically, disagreements during class discussions were fairly common. When it came to views on important matters, everyone had an opinion. Sometimes the opinions were loud, and sometimes they were quite militant, but they were opinions nonetheless.
Now that I’m in college, the dynamics have done a 360. Few people really seem to have strong feelings about anything, and if they do, they manage to hide it well. The hallways are quite sterile, and it’s infrequent to even really make eye contact with anyone. The overall mentality seems to be “You stay out of my business, I’ll stay out of yours“. I hung out with one of my friends recently who’s still in high school at a local public school and she said that she rarely shares her opinions with anyone, as that only causes drama.
From what I’m noticing, it seems that the general consensus in Christian environments is “I’m going to give my opinion very loudly whether you like it or not” and the general consensus in secular environments seems to be “Stay out of my business and try not to get in anyone’s way“.
Both approaches fall short in interacting with the world as Christ would.
When someone only wants to yell and point fingers, they fail to care about the very people they’re supposed to be loving. When someone never stops to give advice or to try help someone work through a problem, they communicate coldness and apathy. As Christians, we’re supposed to love and be a family, which presents an entirely different vision than either approach offers.
When you’re in a family, you don’t just spew off disagreements without a relationship and the other person’s best interests at heart. You also don’t only chat casually and avoid any subject that could potentially bring conflict. Both of these approaches are dysfunctional and both fail to live up to Jesus’ calling to “Go and make disciples” (Which could also be thought of as, “go bring people to the family“).
Many times in the media, we hear the word empowerment being used frequently. I believe this word best sums up my point here. Our goal as Christians is not to condemn or to be cold and uncaring, but to empower people to find their best selves in Christ. This means caring about forming relationships with other people, helping them sort through the messiness of life, and helping them to find God’s will in their lives. Clearly, there are many matters where it’s best to “agree to disagree” but we should never, in our pursuit of kindness, default to the booming, loud apathy of disconnection.
Our love needs to come from a deeper place than silence and rage, it needs to come from our living breathing Savior, who loves us and has adopted us as His own.
We can only become all that God intended us to be through caring, building up, and watching over our family and potential family-to-be.
Anger and apathy will never be enough.