This week's Guest Blogger is Sarah Young, the student worker from Community Church Edinburgh and recent graduate. Who we live with has a huge impact on our time at uni so we asked Sarah to tell us her story...
In my first night of University I overheard one of my new flatmates telling a friend that ‘her worst nightmare was to have to live with a Christian’. It wasn’t the smoothest of starts to living with someone but by God’s grace we had a great year in the flat together and are still friends. By living with me she got to see a side to Christians she had never seen before.
I spent all of my student years living in flats with ‘non-Christians’. There are countless ways of doing mission and demonstrating Jesus to people but none as intimate as living alongside people. University is a unique time of living with strangers who become friends. When you live with someone they see you at your best and at your worst. My imperfections - that could be hidden from everyone else - could not be hidden from my flatmates. There is nowhere to hide. My flatmates knew I claimed to be a Christian and held me accountable to my actions (apparently dropping my dinner out of the fridge was no excuse for swearing).
Far from being annoying it was refreshing to be with people who will not settle for hypocrisy. Who wants to live with a fake? They saw my humanity, my weaknesses and mistakes, but that despite all this I still had a relationship with the most High God. Christians are not super nice, super intelligent, completely sorted people sent to judge the world. They are real people, with messy lives who have received grace and are seeking after Jesus and the coming of his Kingdom.
As a flat we walked through all aspects of life together including many celebrations and also bereavement. Here was the perfect opportunity to ‘Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.’ (Romans 12:15 - The message) I also had the chance to have great conversations with them, whether it was 2am or mid-afternoon during a Mario-cart session. I did not have to wait for an outreach event or put on a fancy presentation; I just had to be myself. As I walked with them, Jesus walked with me and brought his light into our flat.
Matt 5:15 says ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.’
Jesus calls us to bring light into our homes - to share this light with our friends and not to keep it hidden. It is often very tough but the presence of the Lord dwells within us... ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ (1 cor 6:19)
So does this mean Christians shouldn’t live together? No, not all. Everyone has a part that they can play at university, wherever they live. Christian flats can be a great hub for community and a center for prayer and mission. I know of Christian flats that have prayed with one another at the start of the day, run alpha courses out of their homes and hosted bible studies. Living with other Christians has so much potential – just sit down with your flatmates and ask, ‘What is God calling us to do?’ In any case - ‘ practice hospitality’ (Romans 12:13).