By Nikki Dabney
College is a time when many young adults walk away from their faith. There are many reasons why this is, but I can testify that college can grow your faith more than you ever thought possible. But to get to that place, you need to prepare and be intentional.
My friends and I read How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski the summer before our freshman year of college, and boy was it a blessing. I highly encourage you to invest in your faith and buy this book. It’s only $4!
So, how do you stay Christian in college?
The Bible is very clear about not putting yourself in the position to be tempted.
“Run from temptations that capture young people.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
“Flee from sexual immorality.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18
Run and flee. Notice it does not say resist. What does this mean? I would highly recommend you do not go to parties where people are illegally drinking.
You may think you’re not tempted to drink, but there are so many other temptations you may have to battle if you choose to go: everyone is dressing up and you start to think about what will make you look sexy and desirable instead of modest and classy. You’re offered a drink and you’re tempted to lie and make up an excuse about why you can’t, but what’s the point of choosing not to drink if you’re not going to give the glory to God? An attractive guy starts giving you attention with no intentions of respecting your body or your soul, and you compromise purity of mind.
Of course, it is possible to go to a party, not compromise God’s law, and glorify Him. However, it is one of the easiest ways to start adopting worldly thinking and keep one foot in the world and one in the door of Heaven, making you lukewarm. Also, it can be confusing to others who know you as a believer, and we are called to live above approach (Titus 1:6).
Obviously there are many more temptations in college, so always ask yourself, “Am I pursuing my flesh or Spirit?”
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” – Galatians 5:17
Know Your Faith Theologically and Personally
You are not going to be in a bubble where everyone believes what you believe. Your professors will attack your beliefs, sometimes indirectly, sometimes advertently. People are going to have intellectual questions and be angry with God. You need to know how to deal with real issues with theologically sound truth. Learn. Take in Truth every day. You cannot rely on your pastor; we are all evangelists.
Obviously you don’t have to learn everything before you go to college; this is what you have to look forward to exploring next year, but start pursuing the knowledge.
And remember: it’s okay to have doubts about your faith. The Bible can withstand scrutiny. Don’t cover up or ignore your doubts. Explore them and seek wisdom. And it’s okay to not know the answer to every question. Admit you don’t know, find out, and share how Jesus has personally changed your heart.
This is absolutely the MOST IMPORTANT. I believe more than anything that you become who your friends are.
“Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
Actively seek friends who are trying to know more about Jesus and make themselves more like Him. Where do you find these people? Church and college ministry. Start trying your options right away, and find your home. Your closest friends need to be like-minded. Jesus associated himself with sinners, but He had 12 chosen friends who were closest to Him.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17
What does it take to sharpen iron? The chiseling away of broken pieces. You need friends who will keep you accountable, ask you hard questions, and help you grow and change even if it’s as painful as putting iron under fire.
None of these steps will be easy to do, but I guarantee you an intimate relationship with the Lord during your college years will make for the best spiritual journey of your life.