Thinking about going Greek, partying on the weekends, trying to make friends, and joining groups? Here is some wisdom from the Bible for you to consider as you go out and build a community at Penn.
College is a place where one has few restrictions on the who, when, where, and how of making friends. Everyone wants to find their group of friends, be appreciated, and be popular. However, is this pursuit inhibiting our relationship with God? The decision of who to be friends with is personal and needs to be made with a clear head and the wisdom of the Bible because it is an important decision. The Bible doesn’t say, “Only be friends with Christians.” It does say:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Corinthians 15:33 NASB
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20 NASB
It is advisable to make friends with people whose advice you respect and whose company will bring you closer to the Lord rather than drag you away from your relationship with Him. Even if that means that you have few friends, your friends will bless and encourage you to be holy.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 NASB
One way that you will make friends is through your involvement in clubs and student groups. It is not that you cannot or should not join whatever groups you are interested in, but it is important to consider the atmosphere that you are placing yourself in. It is also important to consider whether or not that group will compromise the time that you should spend at church or with other believers. Is the majority of your time spent with people who bring you down?
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Psalms 1:1-4 NASB
Where is your mind?
The Bible talks quite a bit about the mind and the heart for good reason. The activities you do and the people you spend time with have the opportunity to influence your mind and heart. What you spend most of your time doing and the people you spend most of your time hanging out with will influence your thoughts. Nothing is inherently wrong about going to a party, being part of a secular group, or having non-Christian friends as long as you seek to honor the Lord through your words and actions in those contexts. Be aware, however, of how those things may change the way you think or what you spend the majority of your time thinking about.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8 NASB
Whatever friends or groups you choose to involve yourself with, remember that God gives you the power to resist temptations that arise. Take the time to read these sections of 1 Corinthians 10. They speak about very relevant temptations and remind us that the temptations we face are not really new. Others have also faced the same (including Christ who did not sin).
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. […] Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. […] So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10 NASB
Remember who you are
Regardless of where you go, who you spend time with, or what you do, remember that you, as a Christian, are set apart for the work of the Lord. You have been chosen to be holy and to be a light among the people that surround you. Do not compromise your reputation as a child of God.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 NASB
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NASB
Note From Charis
When I came to Penn, I wanted to be part of a singing group that sang secular music because, to my ear, they sounded great, and the secular tunes were more catchy and fun. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that necessarily, but frequently those groups are primarily made of people who do not follow Christ. The Lord placed me in a Christian A Cappella group instead. We sometimes spent up to fifteen hours in rehearsal in a week, went on retreats, and traveled out of state for concerts. We developed such close friendships because of the sheer time we spent together and the conversations that came up during that time. I became increasingly thankful that I was in a group with believers because advice was Biblical and conversation was uplifting. I think that it is totally possible to represent Christ in secular group, but it was a blessing because A Cappella was a safe place where I didn’t have to be on guard. I made real, lasting friendships there which might not have happened for me in another group.