Returning TMC students come back to campus and move into their dorm rooms today. There’s an interesting situation in Hotchkiss Hall. Hotchkiss Hall is a dorm that’s two stories tall and built in the shape of an “H.” There are four wings for girls on one side of the H, and four wings of guys on the other side. In the middle is a lounge.
This summer, Hotchkiss was remodeled. But due to finances, only half of the rooms could be done. It was decided that out of the eight Hotchkiss wings, two girls’ wings and two guys’ wings would be remodeled. What makes this interesting is that now, on both sides of Hotchkiss, there are two brand new wings and two old wings. And as is always the case, new things always make old things look older.
So who gets to live in the new rooms and who “gets stuck” in the old rooms? This is a bit of a dilemma (although the size of the dilemma depends on what your values are). I’m the Resident Director of another dorm, and I deal with housing issues and requests and preferences all the time. There will be a few difficult conversations with students who are assigned to the old rooms but want to live in the new rooms. This desire isn’t inherently wrong. The overall situation, though, reminds me of a few biblical principles that are very important.
1. God is a good giver of good gifts (James 1:17). A room to live in, whether it be old or new, is one of these gifts. God has provided. And if you get to live in one of the new rooms, He’s made it more efficient and shiny and nice than the ones you lived in before. He is an over-and-above kind of giver.
2. The Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). Jesus didn’t have a room, even an old one. He left His eternally happy home above to sludge His way through a sin-saturated world so that His enemies might have life, a family, and an eternal home in which to enjoy God. And while He was here, He spent a lot of time traveling around preaching a hard message to hard and hurting people. He had nowhere to lay His head. For His followers, then, a dorm room or an apartment or a house or a mansion is not part of the deal. It’s a bonus. It’s an extra. This has massive ramifications for our views of dorm rooms and houses and real estate.
3. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). Those who live on the old wings ought to rejoice with those who get to live on the new wings. This is simple Christianity, even though it can be very hard to do. Our envy, jealousy, and self-seeking often stifle the joy that the Spirit wants to produce in us over the benefits that others enjoy. But we must fight this, and fight it with tenacity. And we must exhort those who are giving in to envy, jealousy, and selfish frustration to be happy for those who are happy. This is what a family does, especially God’s family.
4. Consider others’ interests above your own (Philippians 2:1-11). I’m certain that there are students who have requested to live in the old rooms because they know that others will want to live in the new rooms. This is a reflection of Christ. Others will not have the spiritual wherewithal to even consider for a moment that other people exist, much less that they have interests, too. But for all of us who profess to follow Jesus, this radical call applies. You must die every day to follow Christ in this way, but it is the most beautiful and Christ-reflecting way to live. As Jesus Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
5. Life is short, eternity is long, God is real, heaven is glorious, hell is horrifying, the world is lost, the laborers are few, and the Lord deserves His glory. If these realities do not compel us to put aside peripheral issues like who gets the “new” room and who gets the “old” room, we may be spiritually uncompellable.
Conversations about housing are necessary, they can be good, and like everything else that we do in life, they are worship (of something). Just yesterday I had multiple conversations about dorms and roommates and housing exceptions—it’s part of my ministry. But it’s a very small part, because it’s of very small value. So here’s to all of you who live in Hotchkiss, that God might grant grace for you to maintain perspective in the midst of something small that Satan would love to make big. Fight on. We’re with you.