Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Learning to love our neighbors in Lynchburg

In order to successfully share our faith, Liberty students should be mindful of testimonies in the community

Among the lanyards, sweatshirts and our tacky car stickers, Liberty University students can typically be spotted a mile away. Whether we are attempting to buy groceries with Flames Cash or cutting someone off in traffic with our parking stickers flashing in the afternoon sun, we have grown to be a big part of the Lynchburg community. So, we’re back for another semester of school, but is the local community happy with the atmosphere we brought back with us?

Our actions show the quality of our relationships with Christ. To be servants of Christ, we must also be willing to be servants of others, regardless of where we are in the community.

Most Liberty students have heard the rumor that we do not tip well, or at all, but one Liberty student, Katy Davis, brought up a good point. She said that Liberty students often view restaurants in the same way that we view Doc’s Diner.

“(T)hey don’t realize that there is a difference between on-campus dining and off-campus dining, and the respect that goes along with it,” Davis said. “Yes, these are college people exactly like us. They need our tips just as much as we need a job.”

After interviewing many businesses, let me speak for them. We do not own this town. God gave us land in which a college was planted. God gave us this chance to study, better ourselves and grow through Him. This land, this campus and this opportunity is not ours. God gave this chance to us.

Luke 12:48 states, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.”

We go to a Christian university. Wherever you go, the name, “Christian,” must go also.

“If we don’t live it out right, they look at us and say, ‘That’s the way a Christian acts, it’s who they are,’” Dr. Elizabeth Sites, an assistant professor of psychology, said.

Liberty students cannot act a certain way, then expect the local community to take our college and our faith seriously. When we pick up our books we must also pick up our crosses.

“How we drive when we leave the parking lot, that all has to do with how we reflect our God and how we reflect on this university as well,” senior Ryan Hepler said. “Tipping is an extension of generosity, which would be an extension of holiness. Our ministry isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are.”

Many Liberty students are blessed to experience short-term mission trips, but for the majority of the year, our mission field is Lynchburg. We cannot feed the hungry in Nicaragua, then ignore the people here who are in need of a good influence, a true friend or a listening ear. Sometimes being a witness or a missionary means putting down your plane ticket and opening your heart to the needs in our local community. So next time you decide to leave campus, remember that just as your car is stamped with the Liberty logo and Christ’s name, your heart is stamped with the influence of Christ.

As the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, always says, “We must go out into the community and earn the right to be heard.”

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