Dan’s Advice to New Students

…You are now preparing to share your life with several other people that you probably do not know that well; those sitting around you – perhaps in a different room from you – are very different from you.  They come from different family back grounds, perhaps different states or countries.  Most likely they are going to do things that you simply do not understand.  They don’t make sense.  And you will not be able to figure out for the life of you why they just did what they did.  (As a brief aside– I suppose it is a possibility that you will not notice any of these things – in which case there is a decent chance that you are this person to others.)

But fear not.  This is part of community.  That, is what you are learning… or at least part of it.  As different as you all are on the outside, you are that different on the inside – if not more so.  But that’s okay. That is part of the learning experience.  You are learning how to live, and interact, with other people.  This is an important life skill, because if you have yet to figure it out, people are everywhere. And most likely you will have to interact with them on a fairly regular basis throughout the rest of your life.

You will learn quickly that if you do not let go of your personalized agenda, then you will very quickly become overwhelmed, frustrated, feed-up, and tired of it.  You don’t want that; no one wants that.  Letting go is a big step here – letting go of your personal, individualistic stuff (for lack of a better word).

But what you let go of will not – or should not – be dropped completely by the community as a whole.  The important things that you let go of will be picked up by others.  That is where this ambiguous term of love comes in.  You will, hopefully, develop a love for one another.  And what is fascinating about this is that, hopefully, you will find yourself acting not purely because that is what you want, but because that action is important to those that you love and you wish to show them that love.

…As we take a step back and explore this whole idea of Christian community, it is perfectly reasonable to ask how this can possibly be done successfully.  And I’ll tell you now, hopefully removing some burden, you cannot do it perfectly.  There will be mistakes made and feelings hurt.  You all will heal and learn from them – it will be okay.  You also cannot do this alone.  (Okay, obviously you need other people to make a community, but that is not the direction that I was going with this…)  You need Christ at the center of not only the community, but more importantly at the center of your individual life.  That is the key.

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