Ingredients for Graduation

Are you ready to graduate? I hate it when people ask me this question. Why? Because of all the details about my life after college that I don’t even know yet. For me, the scariest part is thinking about how I will continue to invest in the wonderful friendships that have taken such time and effort to form in college. Additionally, will I find good friends where I end up moving? How long will it take to establish those?

 The changing face of friendships after college is a legitimate concern. I should be preparing myself for that. But how much more should I be giving thought to how the dynamics of my relationship with God will change after college! There’s no doubt, these past four years have been formative, even critical, in my relationship with the Lord. But when the entire structure of my life changes, when I am uprooted from a community that keeps me accountable, thrown into a new environment with a full-time job and a whole new host of challenges, will I continue to live to please God? Will I continue to grow in understanding of who God is and how I can serve him after my formal education is over?
I recently read The Fabric of Faithfulness by Steven Garber with this very concern in mind. He outlines three ingredients that, by the grace of God, equip college students to connect what they believe with how they behave in the real world. The first ingredient, convictions, is what this post is all about. Character and community are vital as well, and we’ll talk through those in the next couple of posts.
When we are talking about convictions, we are talking about a worldview. How does what I believe affect how I relate to politics, the arts and business? How does my faith affect my sex life? How about the way I manage my money? The way I treat my employer and my employees?  My attitude and actions in my local community? The exciting thing about the Christian worldview is that it encompasses everything. Rooted in the possibility and reality of truth, the Christian worldview enables action, gives purpose and meaning to our 9-5 days, and what we do with our time in between. We are able to live and serve and expend energy for something greater than our 80-90 year lives.
One of the interviews Garber conducted was with the former director of industrial policy in the Ministry of Trade and Commerce in Malaysia. When asked how his worldview informed his career and professional life, he answered:
In a world of greater pluralism and globalism where people will recognize their roots and belief systems more, and the lack of universality of these, and so then will cry for commonality– since we need to conduct life with some notion of decency– we are going to be faced with the question, “What is our theory of change, and what is its basis?” 

I have come to the conclusion that the only valuable theory of change is one of integrity. Whoever espouses such a theory needs to live by it, and when you do that you have set up a model for moral leadership where people will begin to trust what you say […]

A worldview rooted in the reality of truth applied to behavior is the only way we’ll be able to live coherent, consistent lives. The Christian worldview works because it addresses all of life. If we believe there is no right or wrong, how do we reconcile our need to stand against injustice? How do we hold each other to a standard of “decency” and justify the desire to live a meaningful life?
College is the time to start teasing through these issues. It is the time to ask, is Christianity the only belief system that really address all of life in a consistent manner? We need to read good books, we need to read our Bibles (!), we need to ask hard questions and confront doubts. God has revealed in His Word every piece of knowledge that we need to live coherently. Let’s not be afraid to believe that and act upon that belief by trusting God enough to dig for answers. Seize the opportunities in college to get involved in book discussions, dig into the Bible in small groups, go to lectures, conferences and classes– now is the time! Being a Christian certainly doesn’t mean giving up your brain.
In addition, being a Christian doesn’t just mean cherishing these convictions in isolation and going into the woods with your Bible for the rest of your life. Next up we’ll talk about another important component that can be cultivated in college to help us grow in our relationships with the Lord in the real world: community.
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