As students at a Christian university with endless access to faith-building events and activities, we must use the resources at hand to help us continue to grow spiritually.
When we arrive at ACU our freshman year, we attend Chapel and reach our 55 credits with no issue. It becomes part of our routine and fits right into our course schedule. However, when we hit junior year, everything changes.
So many of us move off campus, file for exemptions and continue to complain about having to attend Chapel for a mere 15 or 25 or 45 Spiritual Formation credits. We give in to the culture that surrounds us and fail to complete even so few credits.
While we sit on our couches and groan and complain about having to attend Chapel, we disregard the spiritual gain that could ensue if we took advantage of the opportunities just a short walk or drive away.
We look past our religious freedom and the opportunities that so many are not as fortunate to have.
Right now in Somalia, an 18-year-old Christian is praying for peace in a room filled with darkness and silence as he is constantly in fear of a state that believes only the criminally insane stray from Sharia law.
In North Korea, a 20-year-old Christian is hidden away while she reads the Bible in fear of a relentless government who will, without a second thought, persecute her entire family.
In the Maldives, a 22-year old Christian is studying the Bible by word of mouth, because ownership of a Bible is punishable by death.
We are blessed to live in a country where we can freely worship and express our religion, yet we lack that appreciation. We disregard the importance of religious community on account of our laziness and superiority.
That’s the American way.
After we leave ACU, most of us will be forced to stand on our own and defend our faith. Those who choose to travel or move abroad may face the ultimate test of faith in countries who do not support Christianity; others may have their faith tested in the workplace.
Chapel is intended to help us prepare for the world outside of the “ACU bubble.” It is an opportunity to grow spiritually in a place where a time of worship and community is always accessible.
It is important to acknowledge that every religious community is different, but one thing remains the same–community is instrumental to our religious success as we go through different stages in life.
Recent research has argued that Generations Y and Z are going through Emerging Adulthood, a stage of development that no other generation has gone through. During this stage in our early 20s, we are still trying to find ourselves in a diverse world full of opportunity.
In a survey to students at various Christian universities, 37.6 percent said they were going to take the time after college to explore who they are. The overwhelming result–“increased religiosity is empirically related to decreased lostness and is related to increased perception of possibilities in life.”
By not being physically or mentally present at Chapel or small group events, we are voluntarily depriving ourselves of the most important aspect of our Christian education. We are giving up on the opportunity to freely express and grow in our faith and our self-fulfillment.
It’s time we view Spiritual Formation as a privilege, not a requirement.