Is fear driving me to follow the crowd, Cameron wondered
"Scarfies on the grog! Scarfies on the grog!" shouted Kiwi uni student Cameron Mackenzie as he partied in a bar with his scarf-warmed Otago University peers.
Yet as the party rolled on Cameron recalls sensing a small inward voice, saying "There's more to life than this."
In the coolness of the morning he realised it was fear of not being accepted that was motivating his lifestyle, not enjoyment.
"I had this underlying fear of not fitting in or being seen as 'uncool', which impacted the things I did and said," Cam admits.
In his early school years he recalls that the occasional mockery of his ginger hair and freckles drove his desire for acceptance.
"I've heard it said that acceptance attracts while rejection repels," he reflects.
"For me, this means we are drawn towards that which accepts us whilst hiding from any sort of rejection."
He was raised attending church by religious parents, where he did not shy away from the cool activities.
"I did youth group, played drums in the music team and played sport on the weekend," Cam says.
However, as a 12-year-old he remembers seeing his priorities clearly while disconnected from outside social pressures at a youth group camp.
"In the outskirts of Canterbury, New Zealand the reality of God's love for me became real and in response I placed my faith in Jesus.
"In that moment, God came to live in-a-supernatural-but-very-true-way inside of me, and began His work of making me into the person He created me to be."
Years later, as he drank among his peers, Cam realised he was looking in the wrong place for acceptance.
At a Christian conference run by Student Life he newly considered the message of Romans 8, verse 31: "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
"I asked myself, 'if the God of the universe is for me, why am I afraid of what my friends think?'
"God used this verse to show me where my priorities were and that they needed to change if this verse is true."
He also learned what it means to be accepted.
"I learned that absolute acceptance is when someone (Jesus) dies for you."
As he trusted in what Jesus had done for him Cam gratefully responded in obedience to Him.
"I began to truly follow Jesus and live my life in a way which demonstrated the acceptance that I had come to know."
Courtesy Student Life NZ, www.studentlife.org.nz