“Who here likes to think?” asked my chemistry professor in class one morning. As I slowly raised my hand, I came to the horrifying realization that I was the only one in the room raising my hand. “It’s okay,” my professor assured me, “I like to think too”. Seriously – none of my classmates liked to think? Not even the girls I sat next to who were aspiring medical doctors and nurses?
If you are a conservative Christian young person in college it will not take long for you to realize that you are often the odd one out of the group, whether you speak up or not. If you do decide to verbally speak up in class, then you’ll really be remembered by classmates as the weird one. Remember your identity is found in Christ, not the team mascot. Loneliness is going to be one of the hardest things you will have to deal with as a committed Christian in college. Lots of people will be coming and going in your life, but you need to make Jesus your constant companion, holding everyone else with an open hand (here is a poem on this topic).
Don’t count on student ministries to help you keep your faith – often your biggest challenge will not come from the atheists but from the compromising, worldly Christians (more on that topic here). The Word of God is your life line, so be sure to read it every day and have a small Bible in your backpack or car. The best college year I ever had was when I created my own plan to read through the Bible in a year and stuck to it. Praying for your professors, classmates, and yourself is absolutely essential as well.
“Princes also did sit and speak against me: but Thy servant did meditate in Thy statutes” ~ Psalm 119:23
Be sure to prepare yourself for the situations and wrong ideas you will encounter and don’t let being labeled “intolerant” bother you . Sooner or later, you will need to defend the Biblical view of marriage, whether in class or among friends. You are going to encounter lots of moral relativism. Of course, you will also need to know how to defend Biblical young earth creation. Don’t think that evolution is only taught in science classes – many subjects like psychology, sociology, philosophy, education, and government will present evolution as fact. Ideally, you want to do a lot of independent pre-study on these hot topics during your breaks or early in the semester. I highly recommend keeping a journal and/or blog recording what you are learning and where you are learning it from.
You don’t necessarily have to verbally speak up during class to stand up for what you believe. Be creative in finding ways to share your faith. I enjoyed writing some choice notes for posterity in some of the textbooks I sold back. You can leave a nice trail of gospel tracts at the library (they make great bookmarks), casually share your knowledge about the big cultural questions with classmates and friends, or witness to someone over lunch in the cafeteria. You might try to get your library to put the technical research article by the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis in their system (Here is a great place to go if you’d like help doing this). Tell your librarian that it will give students a greater “diversity”– they really like that.
Next week I will share some tips specific to verbally speaking up during class. Even if you aren’t a college student, I encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of what is really going on in our American education system and know how to best encourage the students you might know.