I have this beautiful picture in my head of living in community with multiple generations. Old folk who look like Gandalf and smell like pipe tobacco or lavender breathe beautiful wisdom. Middle agers with young children take me into their home, feed me, and mentor me into adulthood. Little children run around at our feet reminding us not to take everything so seriously. I inevitably become their favorite young adult role model, and maybe they start calling me uncle (that’d be cool). We go to church together and then serve the homeless. And we drink fair trade coffee. When it comes to being the body of Christ, we’re “all in.”
It turns out that I don’t know of anything like that, because I’m a college student in a city I didn’t grow up in surrounded by people I don’t know. I don’t know how to invite myself into community, nor have I ever been invited (sometimes I hover around nice-looking families after a church service with the “lost but willing” look on my face, hoping that they’ll adopt me. It hasn’t worked yet.)
But the thing about being a college student at a small, private, Christian school is that campus life can be a decently functional church substitute. Community, worship, and learning are all part of the package deal. Why make the costly investment of time and energy trying to plug into a church community when all those things are right here? And who knows where I’ll be in the next couple years? I’d have to start all over anyway.
But as a senior approaching graduation and looking at life beyond, I have to start asking myself some real questions. When am I going to give up my life for the kingdom? When am I really going to go “all in” as a disciple of Christ? It didn’t happen in high school. It hasn’t happened in college. What makes me think graduating will make a difference? I can already see my own excuses: “I just need to get my career started…As soon as I get through these first bumpy years of marriage, I’ll be ready…I really can’t jump in now because I need to focus on my family…I’ll finally have time when I retire…”
New life starts now. I’m being called to step out of the boat, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I guess I’ll have to trust that that’s ok, and that in losing my life, I will find it.