How can I shine?
While I was studying at Oxford Brookes University, I regularly heard a phrase at CU meetings and church, ‘shine out as a light on campus’.
This idea was based on Philippians 2:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation, then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Philippians 2:14–15)
But hearing this sometimes evoked a feeling of smallness and powerlessness in a place that seemed so large and defined by the surrounding culture. ‘How can we stand out for Christ?’, ‘Where do we even start?’ were the questions I was asking.
When looking at your university buildings and the lives of your friends, you may be asking similar questions. How can the Christian Union, a small cluster of stars, shine out against this backdrop? And personally, how can I stand out in my lectures, where I live, and in my friendship groups?
In Philippians 2, we are encouraged to shine out in a different way, a seemingly small way which probably doesn’t feel like it would have much visible impact on campus:
‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing’.
As a student, another thing I often heard from people, myself included, was complaint. Complaint about the lecturer, about the deadline, about ‘that coursemate’, about no one doing the washing up, about the bus being late, the speaker at CU last week, the worship leader and their music choice or style.
‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing’ says Paul, ‘then you will shine’.
If you’re feeling powerless and like you’re not sure where to begin, then hopefully this clear command helps. By not complaining, we will stand out from the culture around us.
But, it must be said, we are human beings in a fallen world, and doing everything without grumbling isn't easy.
So, what’s our motivation? What will enable us to do this?
A Christ-like humility.
Earlier in Philippians 2, we are told that Jesus ‘made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant’, and ‘humbled himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:6–7).
Let’s follow Christ’s example and assume the position of a servant, rather than the self-elevation that leads to unhelpful criticism and arguing. Let us ask how we might support and bless others, rather than complaining about them behind their backs. Let us ask Jesus to be our Saviour and to change us as we meet with Him day-by-day, so that we will shine and become ‘blameless and pure’. While this doesn’t mean that we will never disagree with other people, or that we should run away from conflict, it will change the way we conduct ourselves during conflict.
In the vast expanse of campus, here is a clear way to shine: imitate Christ’s humility that leads to harmony.
Joe became Media Producer for UCCF after studying at Oxford Brookes university. He loved getting involved with the Christian Union there and went on to spend a year working alongside the CU and in Media Production as part of UCCF's Relay Programme.
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