It’s a question that every student needs to think about. More so, Christian students have to wrestle with this question as it determines the way in which they will live out the next period of their lives. How a student honours God with their time in university will have a huge effect on both themselves and their campus.
If I’m honest though, this is a flawed question. It is flawed because it assumes that you are able to define how God fits into your life, and more specifically that we are able to decide how God is going to use us in university.
In the opening session of P2C PLUS , Daniel Im began his talk by asking everyone how they would respond to the question, “who are you?” To answer this question, he drew from one of the most fascinating characters in all of scripture: John the Baptist.
Why would a session built around answering the question “who are you?” focus on a hairy man who was known for living in the desert? John the Baptist did not define himself by what he had done or who he knew. When pushed to answer this question, his response was “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord – just as Isaiah the prophet said.” (John 1:23) Even in his response, John the Baptist defined himself solely by the mission that God had called him to.
As Daniel Im put it, “John recognized that his life was not his own.” John knew that he was going to be surpassed by a man greater than himself (John 1:26-27), who was Jesus. John didn’t define his life by how he saw himself or how others saw him, but by who God was. He was called to join in the mission of God.
John recognized the flaw in so many of the questions that we ask. We often seek to fit God’s mission, or even our identity, into our understanding of who we think we are and what we want to do. The flaw is that it’s impossible to define how God fits into our life. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was for our restoration to himself. Through that restoration of relationship we experience eternal life and we can be used by God to change the world. If Jesus had died to fit into what we want out of our lives, it would mean that our lives have a value apart from God. God just becomes another tool we can use to fulfill our desires.
Just as John the Baptist refused to let others (or his own desires) determine who he was, we likewise need to view ourselves through the only lens that can tell us who we are: God.
So where does God fit into my time in university? Just as Daniel Im flipped some questions during his talk, we need to do the same.
Ask questions such as: How is God using my time in university to further his mission? What is my role in the work God is doing on this campus? How is this time preparing me to be used by God in the future?
Take some time to reflect how God is already at work in your life. Ask God to show you how he sees you, so that you do not have to define yourself by another lens. Seeing ourselves from God’s perspective will free us to both know him more fully and to partner with him in the work he is doing.