Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What Would Jesus Say to a Fresher?

I was happy to be asked by the University of Lincoln Christian Union to help at their Freshers' Week this year, giving a talk during one of their lunch bars. This included the offer of free food and a talk that relates to Freshers on campus.

The topic I was asked to tackle was "What would Jesus say to a Fresher?". Here is what I think Jesus would say to Lincoln Freshers of 2014.
As a digital professional, I thought a good place as any to find tips for you Freshers would be Twitter and #TipsforFreshers which was trending this week. Here are some:
  • Eat your tuna pasta out of the saucepan to save on washing up
  • Bring all the fancy dress items you have
  • You will do all your essays the night before they are due. You will hate yourself for it. But you will never change.
  • The first time you buy your own toilet roll will be accompanied by the crushing realisation that you are now an adult
  • Perfect your jenga skills. If you topple the washing up / bin pile, you have to deal with it
I could relate to most of them! But as for what Jesus would say to a Fresher, I think you can find the answer in the Bible. I've picked three tips that I would have found helpful as a Fresher.

1. "When you burn out; I'm here for you."
The move to university is pretty massive and it gets bigger as you go into your second and third year; it can be quite overwhelming at times. Not only are the studies pretty stressful but the moving away from home and family can be hard too. At some point you'll burn out and won't know where to turn. Jesus says that he is able to take your worries and burdens.

When talking to a group of religious people, who probably thought they had it sorted, Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus offers you a personal relationship and the opportunity to take the load off. Give him your time and effort and lay your worries on him and he will help you.

2. "Get your priorities right"
It's so easy to put your all into something during your first year for satisfaction. It might be the massive parties at The Engine Shed, getting to know that person you fancy, making the first team in the football club, even getting the top marks on your course.

Jesus told the people he spoke to that putting their whole life into things like that - in the world - will leave you disappointed: the party might not be as epic as you thought; your crush might not like you back; you might not make the 1st team in the sports society; you might not get a 1st in your course. Even if you do get these things, they won't last forever.

In the famous sermon on the mount, Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

He was saying that if you base your life around things that don't last, you'll end up disappointed and unsatisfied. It's not that enjoying a party, getting to know people, having ambition in sport or doing well in your course are bad things in themselves. You need to put your heart into something that lasts - and Jesus says that he is that thing.

3. "Take me seriously"
Help with burn out and getting satisfaction in life are all well and good but there's more to Jesus than just that. He said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).

If you want to know the best way to live, you want to know the truth about reality, if you want life after this one, Jesus is the way to get it and you need to take him seriously.

A famous author, CS Lewis, once said that Jesus could be one of three things: a liar, a lunatic or Lord.
  • Some people think Jesus was a good man or a good teacher. But if his claims that he was God and the only way to heaven were lies, he could hardly be good.
  • If you saw someone in the news that said they were God, you'd expect them to be sectioned. But Jesus' teachings are revered across the world by Christians and non-Christians alike. He's hardly a lunatic.
  • Others have gone on to say he could be fourth thing: a legend. But there are very few historians that deny Jesus really existed and all the writings from the time suggest that his followers truly believed he was God and rose from the dead.
Jesus had some very important things to say. He even said that he would die for the sins of the world. Sure enough, he was crucified. But rising from the dead, he showed that he indeed was God and that what he said was true. No one else in history has lived, died and risen again. This Jesus is something diffferent.

Jesus said things that relate to you: whether you're a fresher, a third year, a mature student, a lecturer or anyone at all. His life, death and resurrection mean that what he said is worth looking into.

The one piece of advice I'd give to any Fresher is to look into who Jesus is and what he said and did. It will change your life!