This Sunday I’m preaching on Hebrews 2:1-4. Consider this a brief introduction.
My College life…
My first year of college was a positive experience (and so were my second, third, fourth, fifth, etc.) It was a time for me to gain a greater sense of self-identity and to reaffirm and “own” my childhood faith. I didn’t know it at the time but it was also a perilous period of my life. Since that time I’ve seen how the failure to engage with a Christian community in college can seriously damage a college student’s faith.
I don’t think many young Christians head off to college with the desire to lose their faith. Instead, they take it for granted, encounter challenges (internal and external) for which they have no answer, and eventually find themselves adrift. This is easy to do, in fact, it’s not about what is done, but about what is not done.
Hebrews 2:1-4 and the Drift…
Hebrews 2:1-4 is the first of several “warning passages” in the book. Each passage contains a specific sin (or set of sins) and a warning of judgment. As I studied these together, I noticed that the sins addressed seem to escalate. The warnings in Hebrews 6:6 (“To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”) and 10:20 (“who have trampled the Son of God underfoot, who have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace”) are particularly severe. By comparison, Hebrews 2:1-4 is tame, although the warning of judgment still has bite to it: “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?”
The warning in 2:1-4, however, isn’t again some sinister activity, but against inaction. “We must pay careful attention,” it says, “so that we do not drift away.”
The first recipients of this letter lived in a world where popular opinion was decidedly against Christianity. These early Christians needed to be intentional about their faith. Negligence would inevitably cause them to drift away, along the current of popular opinion, which would lead eventually to a heart hardened against God’s word and filled with unbelief.
As we enter into a new post-Christian society, our condition is not so different. This reality isn’t unique to college students but, for many, especially those in the enclave of West Michigan where I serve, college opens young people to a broader society they may never have experienced in full.
Advice for college students…
There are many things believing college students can do to thrive spiritually in college. In fact, there’s a whole book on this topic . However, if I were to give just one piece of practical advice it would be this: Get involved in a community of faith; a local church and a Christian organization on campus. If you are away from home, it is especially important for you to be part of a campus organization, like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
Why is a community of faith so essential? Well, the key for any Christian is to keep your eyes on Jesus. Except for a minority of contemplatives this doesn’t come naturally apart from a community. The local church provides all the tools necessary to do this; the preaching of the Word, worship, prayer, encouragement (and correction), and the opportunity to make use of the gifts God has given you to build others up. And, on top of all that, if we really to keep our eyes on Christ, what better way than being part of the body of Christ.