‘First it's Jesus Sir, then its Dubstep’, commented one of the lads I work with.
This flippant yet quite profound quote got me thinking. What are the priorities in my life? What is it about my life with Jesus that gets people talking? Is it the sort of music I listen to, the choice of language I use when I am around friends, maybe even my heart and passion for mission? I can guarantee you the thing they’re not talking about is my personal relationship with Jesus. Why not? Because this is usually hidden from the view of the wider public and even my friends and family. Generally what happens between me and Jesus stays there and what doesn’t happen for example my lack of quiet times or spending time in God’s word also stays quiet. It floats quietly under the radar and life goes on.
I find it so easy to make sure people can see what I am doing, the places I volunteer, the Christian Union meetings I attend, maybe even how loud I sing in church. Surely these are all ‘holy characteristics’. It says in Ephesians 2: 8-9 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ It's not about the kind things we do, how many times we get involved in mission or how many times we have attended student cell, great though these are, it's about our personal friendship with our creator.
So often I hear pastors and preachers say Jesus needs to be first in your life. This really gets to me because I know from personal experience that far too often it is easy to put Jesus first followed by a whole list of other things, like going out and drinking and relationships. I want to challenge this and say that it's not about putting Jesus first but putting him in the centre of everything you do. If Jesus is in the centre and we are looking to him to direct everything we do, then there surely cannot be room for anything else to govern us? These ‘other things’ start to become rooted in Jesus, our relationships with others flourish, going out doesn’t necessarily involve drinking ourselves to the floor.
As I write, I want to discover more about God’s heart for students and young people in mission. To prayerfully consider how God is leading this generation to change the world one step at a time. As a student and prison chaplaincy volunteer I want to draw on some of the things I come across to try and put student mission into greater perspective through stories, experiences and also revealing where I have made mistakes and what I have learnt from them. However most of all I want to continue to work on putting God the centre of everything I do.
We start the new year with a guest blog from Iwan, a fresher in York who works in prison ministry whilst at uni.