What are the some of the characteristics that you admire in your friends? How can you model those to others?
I enjoyed the high school and college friendships that I experienced. I recall the enthusiasm and openness of these age groups and particularly the independence and zeal for adventure. The idea of making a difference among college students has resonated with me the past few decades as I’ve worked in and among them.
Donna, Scott, Linda, Chris, Tammy, John, Jill, Steve, Patrick, Skip, Mark, Jeanie, Robbie, Dave, Jeff, Quintin, Teresita, Chris, Huzie, Samantha, Celeste, Mark, Jake, Steve, Patrick, Katie, Tony, Liz, Fish, Melissa, Brenna, Roy, Mariela, John, Hoe-Phong, and Andrew are just some of the ones I remember. There are many more, of course, that elicit fond memories of divine encounters, road trips, campus conversations, Bible discussions and outreaches, skits and laughter, academic, life, and spiritual integration. Men and women I was blessed to know for a short period of time, yet long for our eventual reunion in heaven.
I love these men and women because of the traits I saw in them – honesty, vulnerability, a thirst for success and excellence in their field of study, integrity of faith and vocation, humility, a love of life. Each of them brings to my mind wonderful stories of redemption, varied paths to meet and surrender to King Jesus in the Academy, and continuing to know and serve Him afterwards in the marketplace. Being with them for a semester, a year, or longer was a rich period of access, friendship, and service together in a collegiate environment.
Being around them was a reminder of the influence of Jesus: His forgiveness changed us at our core; His grace enabled each of us to strive for our potential; His power put us on a path to flourish as masterpiece creations of His.
Read Romans 15:1-7.
I learned through my relationships with so many college students (and staff that joined me over the years) that it is possible to provide an example to others of who Jesus is by the way we openly and joyously live. I still remember how Taylor was influenced by Stacia at M.I.T., to eventually put his faith, hope, and trust in Jesus. She radiated the characteristics of Jesus in a way that made Taylor, and many others, feel as if they had, in a sense, been with Him.
Jesus loved sacrificially and intentionally. Jesus cared for the forgotten ones. He actually touched a leper, a woman who was sick, and unlovely (even dead) children, and gave them all life. Jesus obeyed the Father. Jesus lived within His means. Jesus prayed earnestly. Jesus met needs unselfishly. Jesus reflected and represented God’s holy name. Jesus served well. Jesus lived well. Can we agree to respond to His pursuit of us with a requisite hunger and thirst to be like Him?
The students listed a few paragraphs above represent dozens, hundreds, even thousands, that I have interacted with that are loving Jesus and serving others. Next time you are with a group of people, think about how you can reflect the characteristics of Jesus. Nothing flashy or to gain their praise. Just be a friend who lives a Jesus-like life among them. Live communally. Our friends should see Jesus in us through our words (verbal & non-verbal) and our actions.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz