Fall is fast approaching! Yep folks, it’s that time of year—college new year. The time of year where all things are possible. It’s a fresh start with new hope and the season of anticipation of things to come. There’s a feeling on campus in August—many of you know what I’m talking about. There’s a pulse in the air, and I’m not just talking about game-day anticipation or national championship hopes, but rather a current of the excitement of new beginnings and the opportunity to be part of a broader community that impacts the world.
I often think of the early church during this season and how the disciples must have felt like the “freshmen” class of the early church. There was an excitement and energy that we read about in the early chapters of Acts. As they stepped onto the pages of history to spread the news about Jesus, they did it with excitement and boldness. As you read the first several chapters of Acts, you can almost feel the anticipation of what was to come … being part of something big … a broader community … a change. The disciples had met the risen Savior, and it changed everything—their outlook, energy, plans, and future was changed forever when they encountered Jesus after He rose from the dead. The disciples acted just like freshmen stepping onto the campus in the fall; they, too, were stepping out, ready for something to change and to be part of a change.
When we grab hold of the fact that we have encountered the risen Savior, it changes our outlook. The disciples, just weeks before hiding in a room desolate and unbelieving, were not at the tomb with “Welcome back, Jesus!” signs. BUT, when they met the risen Jesus, it changed everything about how they looked at life—the message and hope of Jesus. You can tell a huge difference in the disciples from the end of the Gospels to Acts. They were bold and could not help but share about Jesus, hence the start of the early church. One of my favorite verses in the first couple of chapters of this “new” beginning is 4:13, “Now they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” They gave off such a vibe that people knew something was different about them.
My hope for our students on campuses this fall is that they would look at the start of the school year with a new outlook and a new beginning, full of possibilities and the opportunity to change their campuses. I pray that they see that our universities are full of people needing to encounter the risen Savior. My hope is our students would show the boldness that Peter and John displayed, and when students on campus look at them, they would recognize something different about them—that they had been with Jesus.
As a new year’s resolution, let’s engage and connect more students than ever to the risen Lord. Because, let’s be honest, it’s a game-changer. Knowing Jesus changes everything about our lives and our future; we can be part of bringing that change to the campus.
Sarah Farley is a campus minister at the University of Georgia. She loves talking about Jesus, SEC football, eating burgers and drinking coffee with students.