While high school is often known as “cliché” because of the visible divides into friend groups, college is even more so. In college, there is even a menu of clichés for you be involved in.
These groups are not all bad and can even be helpful as you’re trying to find friends and fit in. However, for Christians, it can be tempting to simply spend time with people who think, look, and act like you. More than that, you can avoid hard relationships very easily. You can create your own little bubble that consists of people, and ideas, you enjoy being around.
The problem with this is two-fold:
1. The Gospel Isn’t Furthered
There is nothing particularly Christian about only having easy relationships. The gospel is displayed more clearly when people who are different than each other choose to embrace the messiness and difficulty of loving each other. That is what Jesus did in the gospel. He befriended people who did not want him, who failed him, who offended him. Yet, he laid down his life for these people anyway. Likewise, you and I need to continue befriending people from all walks of life. We need to know that while we will daily fall short this model for friendship, our choice to love all people will model Christ to the world. When we press into hard relationships, we embody the gospel through friendships and display to the world that Jesus in and of himself is sufficient to unite people.
Another shortcoming of easy relationships is that they set you up for failure in the future. Why? Because after (or even during) college, you will work with people that drive you crazy. You will interact with people you just don’t understand, people you don’t “click” with. If you avoid hard relationships now, you will either avoid hard relationships in the future or handle them poorly. That, in turn, may mean that you miss your opportunity to share the gospel with someone who needs hope.
2. You’ll Miss a Chance for Relational & Spiritual Growth
This isn’t the only reason I encourage you to press into difficult relationships. Doing so will also help refine your character so you are more like Christ, no matter who you are around. For instance, many of you will get married one day. Believe it or not, your spouse will drive you crazy at times. At time, even your relationship with your spouse—the person you most love—will be extremely difficult. If you practice relationship with your thumb on the eject button the next four years, then won’t you be equally willing to press eject on your potential, future marriage?
How to Start
Difficult relationship are a way God transforms us. You need people in your life who annoy you, who take than take more than they give, who that tell you things you don’t want to hear. God uses these types of people things to transform you into the image of Christ.
So, here are two ways to will help you practice this:
- Join a church that will provide you with relationships with different generations, ethnicities, and backgrounds
- Intentionally develop relationships with people in your classes—God providentially put them in that class with you