I’ve enjoyed life in college. A lot. I don’t think I’m alone in that.
So when I got to the Blue Ridge Region’s chapter camp recently and entered a track called “Life After College,” I knew God was about to make me pretty uncomfortable.
For a week we studied Scripture, took in content from speakers, and discussed what it means to trust and glorify God in our work, churches, relationships, and finances as we transition away from college. This transition, the InterVarsity staff workers informed us, would likely involve (among other things): (1) many more intergenerational encounters than we’d had at college and (2) moving (at some point). I did not like the sound of either of those. I like college students, and I like my college town.
Funny thing, though: God doesn’t necessarily call us to do what we like. He calls us to like what he likes—and he likes people of all ages and ethnicities from all cities, states, and nations.
With these thoughts in my head, the staff workers commissioned us to go and be “blessed to be a blessing” to others. Reality set in as soon as I left camp.
From camp I headed to the airport to visit family for a few weeks in Dallas, Texas. Halfway through the flight, the older woman seated next to me pulled out an old, tattered Bible, read for a minute, and started making bullet points (“hyperlinks,” perhaps?) on a notepad.
“You look like you’re planning a Bible study . . . ?” I said, half-jokingly.
“I am,” she replied, and then went on to explain that she was leading her women’s Bible study group the next day—which she had never done before—and was feeling genuinely unprepared.
Ten minutes later, we were doing inductive Bible study step-by-step right there on the plane. I had no idea I could study Scripture so naturally with someone almost three times my age. But lo and behold, it was a lot like studying Scripture with someone who is my age!
Evidently, God does not discriminate based on age and calls his people to the same standard. The young can walk alongside the old; the old can walk alongside the young (1 Timothy 4:12; 5:1-2). Even if we do have a particular passion for children, teenagers, college students, or the elderly, we are called to love all our neighbors—in dorms, in apartments, and even on planes (Matthew 22:36-40).
In All Places
The next morning, I decided to go visit a church, partly because that “Life After College” track had talked about how and why to visit churches.
Honestly, when visiting churches, I often grumble that “this isn’t what I’m used to” and compare it to my college church or to my InterVarsity fellowship. But that Sunday it was clear that God has rapidly and radically changed my heart. Throughout the day, while going to church, driving around town, and visiting family, I wasn’t thinking, I don’t know that I like this place, but rather, I know that God loves this place. He loves my campus, my college town, the town I’m in, the town I’ll move to, and, quite frankly, every town (Matthew 28:18-20).
World Changers Developed
In my four years as an InterVarsity student, I developed a heart for students and college campuses and have often considered pursuing campus ministry after college. But, also thanks to InterVarsity, I’ve been reminded that it’s important not just to love my own campus but also to see “world changers developed” and to grow “in love for . . . God’s people of every ethnicity and culture and God’s purposes in the world” (emphasis mine).
If you’re in college or recently out of college, by all means love your campus—but not just your campus. To love just your campus is to idolize the comfortable familiarity that your campus, your friends, and your InterVarsity chapter bring.
I’ve idolized this familiarity all too often. Honestly, right now I’m still not totally thrilled about being away from my campus. Maybe you aren’t either. But I pray that God would forgive us for our narrow-mindedness and open our eyes to his work on and off campus, on planes, and around the world. Because the truth is, he loves all people and he is in all places. And he’s eagerly inviting us to join him.
Julia Powers is a 2013 graduate who double majored in English and psychology at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She blogs at http://juliapowers.blogspot.com.
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