For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns. For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns.
It can be quite daunting as a young person to have to defend your faith against so many different beliefs, and it feels overwhelming to think that there are no fellow believers in the sea of diversity. It is hard to hold strong beliefs that differ from peers, and even harder to be mocked or ridiculed for them. Jesus knew how we feel, and so do His disciples. They were mocked, beaten, imprisoned for their faith. However, they brought so many people to God because they were willing to serve Him no matter the cost. If the disciples were able to stay Christian during all the suffering they went through, is it possible to remain faithful on a college campus?
1. Daily Prayer and Devotions
Being mindful of the challenges that present themselves, there are things we can do as young people to stay active in our faith. The first and foremost of these is daily prayer and devotion time. The way we communicate with God is by praying to Him and reading His Word. As we build an authentic relationship with our Creator, He helps us with everything we are going through. Psalm 46 says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The reality is that there will be difficult times, but God promises to be our refuge. We can take shelter in Him and His word. He has so much help for us in the Bible, and we can face the world when we have God’s word written on our hearts. No matter what we are going through, God is there for us, and wants to help us!
2. Guarding The Avenues
Another way to stay Christian in college is to guard ourselves. Amidst all the temptations, distractions, and influences, it is easy to slip into habits that aren’t holy, but we need to be careful about what we let into our minds and our hearts. As a principle, by beholding we become changed. If we examine the Bible every day and learn more about our Creator, God will change our hearts, and we will grow closer and closer to Him. However, if we watch, listen, or even partake in things that aren’t pure or holy, those things will change us and cause us to drift away from God. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” God tells us to spend our time beholding pure, good, and true things, not the opposite, and the best way to stay faithful is by being committed in the small day to day decisions on how to spend our time. So when you catch yourself doing things that take you away from God, turn away and pray, ask God to help you change those habits.
3. Surround Yourself With Godly Christian Friends
Along the same lines as the last way, surrounding yourself with people who will bring you closer to God and not away from Him is very important. As humans, we need community and friends to strive, and as Christians, we need fellow believers to help us along on our walk. By joining a Christian student group and becoming part of a church family, we can form bonds with people that will help us withstand the forces of the evil one. There is something extraordinary about being able to worship and praise God with your closest friends, and when you become friends with fellow Christians, you can uplift each other, pray for each other, and understand each other better than you will be able to with your other friends. By joining a church family, you will find amazing mentors and people who will become like family. They will be there to help you and encourage you as you are navigating your college years, give you advice, and care for you when you need it. Having friends and church members by our side lets us know that we aren’t alone with what we are going through as a college student, and gives us hope for our futures in Christ.
4. Share The Word With Others
Although taking classes and studying will already keep us very busy, getting involved in service is another way that will help us stay faithful. Jesus’ mission here on earth was to seek and save the lost, and on public universities, there are many lost people. When we get involved in serving God, not only do we bring ourselves true joy, but we can show other people about the love of God that what we have found in Christ. When you serve God, it creates a love for God and His people in your heart, and there is nothing more rewarding than when someone you have been witnessing to gives their lives to Christ. Serving God makes us want to know Him more, especially when we witness the amazing things He does for people. It grows our faith in Him when we are working for Him because it isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. So get involved with a Christian student group, with your church’s community outreaches, and personally reach out to the people around you.
5. Make God a Priority
Lastly, but most importantly, we must keep God as the priority in our lives. We do need to focus on school and our degrees, but God has us in His hands. We can bring glory to Him with our studies and by doing well in school, but we need to put Him first. Before our exams, before our friends, before even our family. Because we have God, we don’t need to worry about these things, and when we put God first in our lives, He will honor and bless us. Mathew 6:33 tells us to “ seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” When we decide to choose God over all other things, He provides for us, and in college, there will be times when you have to trust God to help you in trying situations. When your professor wants you to do something against your beliefs, or when your study group wants to meet during the time you go to church. When you are overwhelmed by papers and assignments, and you want to skip church and personal time in the Bible to finish everything you need to do. These situations are tough, but when you seek God first and stand up for Him, He provides everything you need. Put Him first in your life, keep Him at the center of all that you do, and your faith will grow as you see all He does for you!
In conclusion, it is a challenge to stay faithful to God on a public university, but through God it is possible. So as you face the challenges set before you, claim God’s promises He has for us in His word, talk to Him about everything going on in your life. Fill every second of your day with things that bring you closer to God, and make your circle of friends people who will encourage your faith and not deter it. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people,” (Colossians 3:23) and fill your life with loving other people and God. You may feel alone on your campus at times, but know that many other people have felt the same way, and God will provide for you as you serve Him during your college years.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2
Here the Scriptures inspires us as Christ followers to run the race and endure the trials, looking to Jesus. He endured all for us so we could be with our Father, and He will help us face the trials and challenges presented before us at college. So please don’t lose hope and stay faithful on your campus, because it is all so worth it!
Written by: Miranda Lentz
CAMPUS Missionary 2017-2018