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New city, new uni, new me?

Let me tell you about my friend, Mike. We thought we knew Mike. One of our first-year squad, he was friendly and always willing to buy a round of drinks. Then, during the year, little things came to light about Mike that surprised us...

It turned out he was actually in his late twenties. He was fluent in Hebrew. It also transpired that he had spent time in jail. Soon we were expecting to find out his name wasn’t really Mike, and that he was an assassin on the run, studying English Lit at Royal Holloway under a pseudonym in order to shake off the law. I mean, you think you know a guy…

It’s very easy to reinvent yourself at university. Everyone you meet knows nothing about you, so what’s to stop you, like Mike, adopting a fresh identity? And for Christians, in the panic of meeting a whole load of new people, it can be tempting not to mention your faith – at least not until people think you’re cool enough.

Perhaps you’ve recently started university and are tempted to do this. Perhaps you haven’t told many people you’re a Christian or really got involved with CU or a local church. Perhaps you’re dreading difficult questions about your faith. I get it, it’s a real challenge.

For those of us struggling to muster the courage to make our faith known on campus, Jesus has a couple of gently encouraging things to say that remind us why He is worth the struggle:

  1.       He gave up everything for us.

‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:45)

Telling new people that you’re a Christian, when you don’t know how they’ll react, can feel like a big sacrifice – what if they become awkward around you or stop spending time with you? It can feel like you’re giving your life for the cause. The most helpful thing to remember in this situation is that the cause has already given His life for you. As we run the risk of sacrificing our ‘cool guy’ reputations or giving up our free Sunday mornings, we can know that we are only going where He has gone before. Just think – the King of the Universe chose to step away from His freedom and glory and give everything to die for you!

  1.       He will help us in the fight.

‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’ (Mark 9:1)

Here Jesus is referring to the moment when, after the Romans would execute Him, He would stroll out of the tomb for all the disciples to see. And the power that enabled Him to do that was the same power that then transformed those 11 blokes from nervous wrecks into people who would boldly declare Jesus is risen. This same power is still on offer to us today. The Bible says that the Spirit that brought Jesus back from the dead is inside you (Romans 8:11) and will help you change and grow in your love and knowledge of Him.So, in the moment you feel weak, in the moments when it’s hard to tell someone you’re a Christian – you can know that His power is with you.

These are helpful truths. How do we put them into practice? Perhaps you could begin with two easy steps:

  1. Go to a church next Sunday – if you don’t prioritise this, it’ll be really tough to follow Jesus at uni. Especially if going means you’ll miss something else; it’d be a big step in nailing your colours to the mast. Ask a friend who goes to church or contact your CU to find one they recommend and travel there with a friendly face.
  2. Tell someone you’re going – either before you go (‘I’m actually not around Sunday morning – gonna try a church!’) or when you come back (‘weekend was good thanks. Went to a church on Sunday’), I guarantee the reaction will be something between surprise and interest.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Make that step and know the kindness of Jesus and the power of the resurrection with you, and then pray for boldness to share your faith with others. 

Connect with your Christian Union to join a community living and speaking for Jesus on campus. 

James Bunyan is a bit of a fidget, to be honest. His inability to sit still tends to spill over into all sorts of areas of his life; he loves travelling, good writing, all sports (except frisbee), the sense of purpose that the gospel gives him, exotic teas and the satisfaction of peeling off a sticker all in one go. He lives in Feltham (London), where he works as a CU Staff Worker for UCCF: The Christian Unions.

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