I loved college. Not for the typical reasons; parties, independence, dating, etc…Since Scott and I got married when I was 19, the majority of my college career was spent in wedded bliss leaving no time or desire for the aforementioned activities. No, I loved college for other reasons. I loved learning new things about my major. I loved reading about new ideas or topics, discussing them, writing about them, researching them, and then taking advantage of the resources at my disposal to learn even more. I legitimately enjoyed going to class and doing a lot of my homework. Yep, I was a nerd. I still am.
Scott got me this cute book bag for my twentieth birthday. Seriously, who gets that excited about a book bag?!
There were a few exceptions though.
I was required to take an environmental science class as one of my general education classes. I’m not big on science especially environmental science (more power to you if you are) so I deliberately procrastinated taking this class. I put it off until my senior year. Registration rolled around and I knew the bell was tolling for me. I sucked it up and signed up.
I showed up on the first day, in dire need of an attitude adjustment. I sat down between two eager freshmen with laptops at the ready. The professor passed each of us a syllabus and jumped into his introduction to the course. I glanced down at my syllabus and began to peruse the break down of how he would grade us, reading assignments etc. Right off the bat, I noticed that there was no attendance requirement for lectures. Score! I looked up from my syllabus just in time to hear him begin discussing the fact that he would test us exclusively on lecture material, which would all be posted online. Score again!
The freshman to my left was furiously typing everything he said word for word while the one on the right was already copying the reading schedule from the syllabus into her planner. I on the other hand, casually put down my pen and smiled. I was a seasoned veteran after-all and I spoke syllabus speak. No attendance requirement? Only tested on lecture notes? That were posted online?! I made up my mind right then and there that I would spend this class period in the library researching my senior seminar paper. I didn’t even buy the textbooks. And I finished the semester with a B.
I was pretty proud of myself when May rolled around. I didn’t have to sit through a boring gen-ed and my GPA didn’t suffer at the same time. It was a win-win right? Not really.
Sure I finished with a good enough grade but I left having learned nothing. Seriously. I couldn’t tell you one thing from those lecture notes that I pulled down from the class website and memorized the night before the test. I made zero friends from that class. No one even noticed that I was gone each Tuesday and Thursday because I had invested absolutely nothing in that class or the people in it. And to top it all off, it was obviously an easy class that I should have earned an A in. I settled for the B though because other things were more important to me.
Some of us treat church like the dreaded Environmental Science class.
Photo Credit: Kelsey Lasher
We realize at some point in our Christian walk that we can squeak into Heaven without attending. The “lecture notes” are posted online, written in our daily devotions, or learned by osmosis through our parents, so we leave them there to tarry until a test comes along and we try and cram it all into our hearts and heads. We pass this life but with an average grade, when we should have crushed it and made the Deans List.
We keep ourselves busy with other things, other priorities, on Sunday mornings, missing out on the opportunity to learn and to grow.
And then we wonder why no one misses us when we don’t show up.
Church is like college in some ways. It is what you make it. I graduated having made the most of my history classes. I learned and I contributed to the discussion. I had a grasp of my field and I left ready to continue my journey outside of the walls of my university. As far as the other stuff though, well you know how that went.
You can choose to skip out on church. You can say you’re a follower of Christ and ignore spending time with other people who are on the same journey. But that would be like saying you’re an environmental science major with the attendance habits of, well, me.
You can say you’re a Christian and not go to church but that’s like saying you’re a college student that doesn’t go to class. Sure, you’re a college student. But are you participating in the life of the university?
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLV
I loved college because it took my raw love, interest, and passion for history and gave me the opportunity to shape it and grow it. I was surrounded by people who knew more than me who could teach me and people who knew less than me that I could teach.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Church can do the same thing with our faith. It provides a context to take our faith and make it more.
Here’s the thing about college though. As much as I would have loved to stay there forever, debating the real causes of the American Revolution or whether or not FDR’s policies were what got us out of the Great Depression, I couldn’t because I didn’t attend college for the sake of attending college. I went to earn a degree so I could leave college with something to offer the world.
We attend church to gain the encouragement and inspiration to offer something, the greatest thing to the world.
I could talk to you for hours about what I researched or wrote about for my history classes. The time and effort I put in prepared me for that. But environmental science? I got nothing.
Simply believing in Christ and asking Him to be your Lord and Savior is your ticket into Heaven. That’s your passing grade. And what an amazing gift that is!
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 NIV
But why not bump it up a notch? Engage the community of believers through the local church and let your faith, your life, your knowledge of our great God grow. Why settle for an A when you could have that A+?
Maybe those freshmen had it right after all.