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Archive for the ‘Faith on Campus’ Category

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As a young Christian headed to, or in, college (and, more and more, even in high school), you will experience (or already are experiencing) significant challenges to your faith and beliefs.  Some of these challenges will be motivated by out-and-out antagonism; others by sincere wonder about why you believe what you do.

As a result, there will be times where you feel attacked, ridiculed and/or singled-out/isolated for your Christian belief.  If you’ve never had your beliefs deeply probed/challenged (whether by hostile or sincere motivations), it can be overwhelming and cause serious cracks of doubt in your faith’s foundation.  This is exacerbated if you’ve left behind familiar family and friends for the newness (and initial aloneness) of college.

To help navigate these times, here are six ways you can ensure not only the survival of your faith, but that you will learn, grow and flourish:

1. Know why you believe.  Scripture tells us plainly to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you the reason for “the hope that you have”  (1 Peter 3:15, NIV and TLB).  Young Christians often abandon their faith because they are not prepared to answer the arguments against God that many professors, students and organizations present today.

I’ll never forget when, as a new freshman in college, a new friend and I were  discussing our beliefs.  As this friend probed my beliefs, he eventually said, “Jeff, I’m surprised you don’t know more about why you believe what you do.”   His statement has stuck with me to this day.

That was some time ago — in today’s post-Christian culture, the atheistic arguments against the existence of God and against Christianity are more aggressive, passionate and complicated than ever before.  Seemingly insurmountable and impenetrable arguments are presented as to why religion in general, and Christian belief in particular, is not just ignorant and antithetical to science and basic common sense, but even harmful to individuals and society.

However, Christianity is not simply “blind faith.”  There is sound evidence which leads to faith and buttresses it.  Knowing why you believe; knowing such belief is not crazy; knowing that faith, science and reason are allies is crucial to being able to give an answer for the reason for the hope that you have.  If you don’t know why you believe, if your foundation of faith is based more on feeling than on evidence (sealed by the witness of the Holy Spirit), your faith could be irrevocably shaken later.

Toward that end, there are a number of sources that can help you determine and understand the evidence that buttresses faith.  Some suggestions: 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists by Kenneth Boa & Robert Bowman; Why Science does not Disprove God by Amir D. Aczel; Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis; Know Why You Believe by Paul Little; a variety of essays by Eric Metaxas and others via the internet.  For a taste of how science more and more indicates a Creator and Designer of the universe, watch this.

2. Face Reality.  Jesus told us, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19, NIV).  The fact is, in America, we are living in a post-Christian culture. Our nation’s institutions (education, judicial, media) have ceased to recognize God and the Bible as our national center, as the source of the common good.  More and more, our institutions attempt to force compliance in thought and deed regarding this post-Christian worldview.  Simply being aware of this and facing the fact that your faith will be challenged (either directly or indirectly) is a must.  It will help you think critically about what you’re being taught and told.

3.  Seek out Allies.  Don’t remain in the “aloneness” you may feel/encounter when you initially move to college (or that you may feel in high school). Identify and join campus groups which share your faith and worldview. Examples include Cru, Baptist Student Union, Navigators (for high school, Youth for Christ or Campus Life). Find and join a bible-believing church which faithfully preaches the gospel and submission to it in the form of discipleship. We all need friends and groups that remind us we are not alone in our faith, in whom we can confide and find encouragement and growth. These groups can also help you navigate the politically correct obstacle course that runs through campuses as well as find professors that share common Christian belief.

4.  Avoid needless battles.  It isn’t your personal responsibility to change the administration’s or professors’ views on Christian faith. It is, of course, necessary and a part of our calling to stand for truth, but it is not necessary to start unnecessary and unproductive conflicts in the name of “conversions.” Look for opportunities for people with truly open minds and an environment for real discussion — but if that doesn’t exist, don’t try to force the issue.

5.  Stay cool.  If you do have the opportunity to engage in a discussion of your belief or are answering a question on why you believe what you do stay calm, gentle and reasonable. In that same passage where Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer for our hope, he also states to give the answer in gentleness and respect.  Thinking of things in terms of “I must win/you must lose” and acting/speaking accordingly is not going to help the cause of Christianity. Remember, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5, “we are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.”  The person who loses his cool usually loses the debate …. and in our case this can have eternal consequences.

6.  Work Hard.  Professors and teachers value hardworking, enthusiastic students.  That is one way of showing respect. Many teachers will respect you in turn … it is one way to “win the right” to engage in discussion of belief.  This is also the path to success in the classroom.

In the end, if you continue to walk with God, seek Him and apply the above, you stand to get more out of your college experience than most. Why? Because you are exposed to dissenting worldviews much more frequently. These challenges and opposition will sharpen you academically and deepen your faith. You will grow intellectually and spiritually as a result. The secret is to be prepared!

 

 

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