As college students, most of us live away from home. We rent out apartments, live in dorms, and find ourselves apart from family months at a time. So when we find ourselves going home for breaks, the time is limited and precious.
We look forward to breaks. They’re a time of sleeping in our own beds, eating home-cooked food, and hanging out with old friends. They’re a time where we can sleep in, binge-watch on series that we’ve put on hold, and stay up late in the night for fun. But as more breaks have gone by, I’ve begin to realize: College is short. It’s fun to do nothing on break and have Netflix as your best friend, but time is fleeting.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
So first, here’s a little bit about the Book of Ephesians. This letter ultimately displays the extent of God’s plan for both Jews and Gentiles. The entire book can essentially be divided into two parts: Christian Identity, which entails who we are and what we believe, and Christian Practice, which states the implications of God’s grace for His people. In the quote box above, we see Paul giving a direct command to us: to “mak[e] the best use of the time…” Going into breaks, we always have an agenda–even if our agenda is simply to rest. Your goals may be to meet up with old high school friends or exploring your city. Or trying a new boba shop that opened. Or spending time with family.
Now, what does spending time with family physically look like? Sitting in the same room? Having a good conversation? On this topic, I would like to pose the question:
Are you intentional in the time you spend with your parents? Granted, every family is different and what quality time looks like can vary; however, what is your mindset?
- Are you casually going to family dinners while spending the majority of the time on your phone?
- Are you spending more time with your friends than you are with your family?
- Do you find yourself more eager to go back to your room or to watch TV rather than asking how Mom is doing?
- When your’e at home, is your mindset more along the lines of, “How can Mom and Dad make my time at home more comfortable?” or “How can I serve Mom and Dad and use this time I have to make their lives easier?”
Those are some of the questions I find asking myself when I go home for break. Now, the principles mentioned above are good. In fact, they are great, and I would advise anyone to adhere to them. However, as Christians we have a greater calling than simply to spend “quality time” with our loved ones. The Bible is clear in its high standard of love for one another. Verse after verse it says:
- “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
- ” Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
- “…And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24
For many of us, the idea of seeing our parents as brothers and sisters in Christ may be extremely foreign and even uncomfortable, but it is biblical. The “one another” commands apply to all. They are not meant to exclude your parents or any other family members. When we think of our parents we usually think of “Honor Thy Father and Mother” or “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” But when we think of commands such as “Love Thy Neighbor As Yourself” or “Spurring each other towards love and good deeds,” my guess is that parents aren’t where our thoughts go to first.
But why don’t they?
Why is there such a different sense of concern and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in our college fellowships than the ones we have for our parents? Yes, parents are different from friends. The Bible directly commands us to respect, honor and obey our parents because they are given to us from the Lord; however, more than not, we mistake obedience for care.
From a young age, we are taught to listen to Mom and Dad: Eat your vegetables. Apply for colleges. Do well in school. After a while, our obedience becomes routine, and we begin to equate the satisfaction we see from our parents with caring and loving them. The bottom statement is: obedience does not equate to care. Let me put it this way: Do we actively consider our parents’ spiritual life? Do we care that our parents are spiritually growing? And if our parents are non-believers, shouldn’t this issue be all the more important? There should be as much urgency to see them profess Christ as Lord and Savior as the unbelieving friend next door.
So let us ask ourselves: Are we just merely obeying our parents or are we caring for them too?