By ANNIE WESCHE
[She] who pursues righteousness & loyalty, finds life, righteousness, & honor.
Proverbs 21:21 NASB
It seemed like just another typical day at the start of my spring semester of Bible college as I navigated the main hall on my way to class. A few yards ahead of me I spotted a small group of guys huddled together and laughing boisterously about something, and there at the center of the pack was the most popular guy on campus. The semester had barely begun when Chad had most of the girls buzzing about his swoon-worthy good looks and cool, leading-man charm. I winced, realizing my route to the lecture hall was unavoidably going to take me right past their huddle.
While everyone else seemed to vie for Chad’s attentions, I had never been very good at interacting with guys — especially those in the “popular crowd.” So, I applied my best impression of confident disinterest and fixed my eyes straight ahead on the door beyond them, determined to slip past unnoticed. But as I went by, the subject of their laughter hit my ears and suddenly halted me in my tracks. They were quoting lines from a popular, yet crude, “guy movie” and laughing unashamedly. Before I could pause to thoughtfully consider or moderate my reaction, I whipped around and shot a look of disbelief and outrage directly at Chad, exclaiming, “What about any of that honors God?! I can’t believe you all would be laughing at something so offensive!!”
Immediately, all eyes were on me and burning with disgust, letting me know that I had just stomped on some sacred guy-territory. Chad took a step towards me, stared me down, and after a dramatic pause, coldly said, “We obviously aren’t going to be friends. I can’t even talk to you.” Putting his hands up in the air, he turned and walked away with all the other guys following close behind. I stood there in the empty hall absorbing the group rejection and unattractive labels that had just been plastered to my forehead — “extreme,” “no fun,” and “holier-than-thou.” And in that moment, I felt in my soul the tension of a war — my pursuit of Christ wrestling against my pursuit of approval.
When I first entered Bible college, I had in my possession two sincere desires. The first was to deepen my love for Jesus and for His Word. The second was to finally be among serious Christians — young people all gathered together with the shared desire to live lives of devotion to Christ, ablaze with spiritual fervor and zealous for His glory! Surely Bible college would be the place to find both of these things, but it took all of one week to realize that seeking after Jesus wholeheartedly would not be an easy road. And that many, if not most, of the students were there for reasons other than a serious pursuit of Christ. My initial joyful hope quickly deflated into despair as I observed the flirtatious interactions between guys and girls, the distracted minds during lectures, the crude jokes that surfaced during break times, and more talk of nearby travel spots than of the gems of Scripture we were studying. And any remaining shred of hope died off completely when I observed the milk gallon chugging contest happening at the second floor window of the guys dorm (appropriately labeled “the zoo”) and the guys taking turns throwing up one after the other.
I had been so excited about forming like-minded friendships and growing together with a spiritual fire for Jesus, but instead, I felt alone and deeply disappointed. I was by no means “ablaze for Christ” myself, but I was hungry for it! And I had longed for the encouragement of others eagerly going after that same desire.
In the weeks that followed, it was only by the wonderful grace of God that I made the decision to seek after Him, even if that meant going it alone. And, in taking to that narrow road, I experienced extraordinary things happen in my life. First, grace abounded! The Word of God became more and more precious to me as I delved into my studies and time with Him. I actually experienced an increase in my hunger to grow in righteousness, regardless of being so disagreeable to the cool crowd. Second, after a small amount of time, serious-minded souls did begin to surface among the student body and we were drawn together in like-minded hunger for Jesus and true Christ-centered friendship — friendships that remain to this day. And third, was the change in Chad. Near the end of the semester, his demeanor and interaction with me had made an entire 180. Rather than shaking his head in disgust, he eventually began to treat me with respect and talk to me with the honor and kindness of a true brother in Christ.
Dear sister, if you have chosen to stand beside the Cross and declare your love and allegiance to Jesus, there will be some who throw up their hands and walk away from you. You will go places where they will laugh at your fervor and label your devotion to Jesus as something undesirable, foolish, or even offensive. But never let the Deceiver sway you by these tactics or get you off course in keeping Jesus at the fiery center of your heart and life! The temporary fizzle of earthly joys are nothing compared to the lasting treasures you have in Jesus. And when you choose Him, you will find in Him everything you need to live out that choice. And who knows how many lives could be changed beholding a life fully given to Jesus Christ and living unashamed!
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NASB
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 NASB
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the lord.
Romans 12:11 NIV