“Is being different because of faith worth the sacrifice?” I just bought Shauna Niequist’s new devotional book, Savor, and this was the question I gathered from the April 28 devotion. But my immediate answer was “Yes! A million times yes!” I know I would be lost without Christ. Then I started thinking, “I don’t really feel that different because of my faith…”
“Is being different because of faith worth the sacrifice?”
I feel pretty far removed from this question. I am so different than those who do not live in the way I define as Christian that I do not even feel the tension of being different anymore. It really does not occur to me that people get so wasted they can barely walk unless I walk past Greek row at the right time. I rarely get upset about being the “church girl” like I did in high school because I am surrounded by countless “church girls” and just as many “church boys” at all times. We unconsciously encourage behaviors from each other like doing quiet time, and discourage behaviors like blacking out drunk, because of the way we associate some behaviors with being more holy or righteous. I no longer feel out of place for the way I talk and the books I read and the places I spend my time because every other person I choose to be close to at school spends his or her time the exact same way. In fact, the only tension I feel now is when I am operating in a way that is not exactly the same as my Christian friends.
I remember in February, when we got assigned “littles” in our sorority: girls who are a year younger that we are supposed to mentor. None of my roommates, myself included, drink at school. Of my 9 roommates, 7 are also in Chi O, and my little is the only one who drinks out of that group.
Sidenote: She is an incredible person. My inclusion of the fact that she drinks is not a jab at her, but an admission of how knowing that about her helped me realize my own sin instead.
It honestly seems like a Herculean (and unfortunate) feat that I have wedged myself so deeply in the Christian corner of campus that I can count the amount of people who might ever send me a drunk text on one finger. I have rejected college culture by identifying so fully with a group of Christian people, but in that I have also rejected its people, who are just as loved by God as I am.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we isolate ourselves when Jesus was a friend to all?
Christian community is not a bad thing. It can be helpful in strengthening our relationship with Christ, but overwhelming dependence on it causes idolatry. To me Christian community is also very comfortable. And very Instagrammable. It’s easy and pretty to wake up and do my quiet time with my cute devotional book and go to breakfast with my also-Christian roommates and talk about what Jesus is doing in our lives and support each other and then take a picture of it sometime throughout the day and Instagram it and be a perfect Christian girl. So easy. Yet so heartbreaking to Jesus.
It’s so easy to end up in a holy huddle. It’s so easy to want to surround ourselves with people who act and speak just like us because we equate an action we may not share with another, like drinking, with an inability to connect with that person on any level. That’s not true: we are all children of God. College and the lifestyle it fosters can be a threat to life with Jesus, but its people rarely are. If the strength of my relationship with my Savior rests on how many Christians I can grab and gather around me, I need to take a look at that relationship again.
In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul states, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” My realization of how problematic holy huddles can be does not mean I am not currently situated right in the middle of one. I am. I am the worst sinner when it comes to this problem; I write this to become aware of my own shortcomings.
And maybe it’s not always a problem, maybe sometimes it’s where we need to be to grow in faith. But right now, Jesus is telling me, “Come closer to me and then look further out to all the children I love so much. I have given you eternal eyes!”