Five years ago I stepped on the college campus with big plans, big goals, and big dreams. The culture of college seems to do that; you start out thinking the whole world is yours for the taking. Why wouldn’t it be? For the first time in your life you are free from someone dictating you, whether that be your parents, high school principal, or your high school sweetheart. You are free from the limitations of adolescence. You can rent your own apartment, take road trips whenever, and drink lots of coffee. Maybe most importantly, you are free from the person you used to be. You can actually reinvent yourself in college. Once you were known as the nerdy guy who spent too much time reading novels by yourself and not enough time watching football with the guys, but not anymore. You can walk around campus wearing a Dolphins jersey and simply regurgitate the segment of SportsCenter you watched that morning, and all of a sudden, you are a football guru.
Freedom is one side of your newly-found inspiration, the other is power. While you were once cooped up in Podunk Town, USA, you now have more information, technology, and social connection than 90% of the world. Not only that, but your words and ideas have power: people actually listen to your opinion about politics, religion, and social issues. You’re at the helm of the world, all you have to do now is grab on.
Or so you think. Every college student eventually figures out that the supposed freedom and power actually aren’t enough, if they even exist at all. The person that you used to be is still, deep down, the person you are. The difficult times you went through during your earlier years still affect the way you think, act, and relate to other people. And all of the power you have now as the straight-A, best-friend-of-your-professor, president-of-the-fraternity student cannot change that.
And that’s where Jesus comes in.
The freedom you thought you would find in college didn’t happen because it was based on you being in a new place. You were still stuck with what keeps you bound the most: yourself. Jesus, on the other hand, deals with you. He doesn’t just give you a self-help or make you a better you; Jesus makes you a new you!
One of the first Christians, Paul, wrote about this: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) If anyone knew about this it was Paul. Before he met Jesus, Paul was named Saul, and he beat, imprisoned, and killed Christians because he thought they were dishonoring God. After he met Jesus, Saul’s life radically changed, and he became the greatest Christian missionary in history. He changed his name to Paul as a symbol of him becoming a “new creation.” He was eventually killed by the Roman Emperor Nero for his Christian faith.
As it turned out, Paul was not looking for Jesus when he found him. You may or may not be looking for Jesus now as a college student. You may still be trying to find freedom and power in other places. I challenge you, however, to find out about this Jesus in college. He may not be the Jesus you have been bored with your whole life; he may be much more powerful and offer you much more freedom than you ever imagined!