University and college students need God’s love too!

by Kurt Lantz
Last night I answered a knock revealing three young ladies who are attending the local university. They had just moved in to the house next door and were bringing cookies to the neighbours to introduce themselves and warn us about a party they were hosting this Friday night. How does a middle-aged man—or anyone for that matter—show the love of Christ to these young women without looking like some creepy neighbour who is just a little too interested in them?

Beyond the stereotypes, university and college students are smart, not just in book knowledge but also in the ways of the world. They have been burned by boyfriends and exploited by employers. They know insincerity a mile away. If we are to approach them with the love of Christ, then it must come from a sincere heart and a godly desire for their spiritual well-being. It must express the love of Christ and not our own self-centred kind of love.

There are plenty of opportunities to show such Christian love toward students, particularly at the beginning of the academic year. They are excited about their studies. They are on an adventure that, often, has taken them far from home into a new city where they are making new friends and even meeting new roommates. We have the wonderful opportunity to share their excitement and let them know we are happy and encouraged by their zeal for life. We can greet them with a smile ask them to tell us about what they are studying and where they are headed with it, and then follow it up with a genuine blessing: “God bless you in your studies/new home/endeavours.” Sometimes it is appropriate to express loving concern and care: “The Lord keep you safe.”

These students are taking major steps of independence from home and family. We can respect that in a way that reminds them they do not have to be totally independent. While not doting upon them, we can let them know God will always be there for them and that the love of Christ in us is ready and willing to support them in every need.

But this love must be genuine, not contrived. It can only be the love in response to the love Christ which He has shown to us in His merciful death upon the cross for our selfish sins. It is that love with which He fills us when we hear His holy Word preached, when we feel the hand of absolution upon our own heads, and when His body and blood are put into our mouths, which strengthens us in faith toward Him and in fervent love for one another.

Rev. Kurt Lantz, is LCC chaplain at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He is also pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Catharines.

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