Unique, cool, quirky, individual.
Four words to describe yourself? In Brighton, where I was on Tuesday, the streets are laced with the alternative. Student culture in that artistic, creative city is all about the “cool”, and being different is the aim not the fear. Little boutiques and one-off businesses thrive as 30,000 students pass through the lanes in search of hidden gems, whether that be retro charity shop purchases, a limited edition EP of a little known band, a decent coffee from a local-run cafe or the best night out in a hidden club. It’s certainly a place I wish I’d had more time in to explore.
As I was speaking to a bunch of students in Brighton that evening, I figured it was important not to ignore the student culture that they have moved into to study there. After all, every city is different, every uni has a different vibe, some more obviously contrasting than others. And yet, from the perspective of someone who calls them self a follower of Jesus, we’ve got to believe that this faith we have is relevant wherever, in whatever context. Faith translates across campuses, cities, nations, cultures and people.
In Brighton’s “cool individual” culture, it’s important to note that being a Christian doesn’t mean you trade in your individuality, your unique quirkiness, your freedom to be you, in exchange for a main-stream brand of religion that demands you all look, talk and act the same, like manufactured robots.
Actually, I’d argue that to be the most unique, original individual you can be, it can only happen through God.
If you wanted to know how to get the most effective response and use out of a brand new originally designed car, you would refer to the maker and designer of such a machine. You could have a go at driving it yourself of course, but without being aware of how it’s made, the power it has and how best to harness all its potential, you will never get the maximum performance from it. You also run the risk of damaging the car by not using it properly, as it was created to be used.
Similarly, if you want to know who you are and be the most “you” that you can be, to understand and harness all your potential to live as you were deliberately created to live, it makes sense to ask your maker. Go back to the creator, God, and get him to show you how he made you and therefore how you can feel most uniquely you, most alive, and most free, through him. In the Brighton culture of cool and individual, I would argue that to be the most individual, counter-cultural, radical, different and most importantly “you”, that a person could be, will never be fully realised, without knowing the creative creator who designed you, specifically, uniquely, lovingly, to be fully you, by living a life fully alive in the source of life himself.
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ Ephesians 2: 10.