A Challenge to Students

Tsilavo Ratsimbaharison | April 27, 2020

I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say that we’ve found ourselves in a generation-defining moment. The season of social distancing, self-quarantine, and video conferencing that we find ourselves in will undoubtedly shape this current generation of students. Time will tell just how much this season will influence the way they think about things like relationships, loneliness, crisis, and authority.  

A few weeks ago, I encouraged our students. This week, I’d like to extend a challenge to them. Paul reminds you to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). To put it simply, the challenge for this season is to think differently. I want to challenge you to think differently about how you can define this moment or, maybe, redefine the moment. I also want to challenge you to make “the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:15). 

So what does that look like? How can we redefine a generation-defining moment? How can we think differently about the season we’ve found ourselves in? 

I’d like to offer 3 different ways to make the best use of the time:

1. Cultivate your relationships 

I believe that this season has caused many of us (hopefully, all of us) to closely examine the quality and the depth of our relationships, both with the Lord and with one another. Now is the time to cultivate those relationships. 

One of the sweetest promises in all of the Bible is found in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” I want to challenge you to make the best use of the time by making it a habit to draw near to God through prayer and through abiding in his word.

I also want to challenge you to draw near to one another. Now is the time to pursue real intimacy with one another, instead of mere connection. It’s one thing to be connected but it’s a much better thing to be known. Make the best use of the time by pushing your conversations and video calls towards encouragement, intimacy, and vulnerability. 

I hope you’ll resolve to grow and deepen your relationships during this season instead of hoping that you can just “pick up where we left off.” 

2. Cultivate your mind

God cares about what’s on your mind. The bible is filled with verses that remind us to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), to be sober-minded (1 Pet. 5:8), and to set our minds on the things that are above (Col. 3:2). As tempting as it might be, don’t view this season as solely an excuse to catch up on the last five seasons of your favorite show or to rewatch Tiger King. Instead, think differently. Make the best use of the time by setting your mind on things that are eternal and worthwhile. Set your mind on some of the big truths that have been revealed in scripture, wrestle with the hard questions you’ve been asking, be creative, and learn something new. 

I love the way Paul puts it: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8, emphasis added).

3. Cultivate thankfulness 

If you scan your bible, you’ll also find verses that encourage us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thes. 5:18), to abound in thanksgiving (Col. 2:7), and to simply be thankful (Col. 3:10). I think these are some of the most overlooked passages in all of scripture but the reality is that God also cares about our thankfulness. In a season when it’s much easier to grumble and complain about things like toilet paper and masks, let’s make the best use of the time by cultivating thankfulness.

I pray that the Lord will make us more mindful of and thankful for the family dinners, phone calls with old friends, long bike rides, and extra time to finish that book. I also pray that we’ll grow more thankful for the ability to gather and worship with one another when that day comes. Until then, make the best use of the time.