As many freshman are preparing for new year of college, here I am a senior at University of Texas at Austin, giving my advice on how to continue your faith in a place where being Christian can be challenged. I consider reading “How to Stay Christian in College” by J. Budziszewski, as many of my answers come from this book or from my own experiences.
Go to Church
This is an obvious one, but it is often overlooked because it requires commitment. But really, church is where you can find your community in college. “There’s no such thing as a solidarity Christian. ” says Budziszewski. This means you need the community in order to be a Christian. The community that Church provides is the Body of Christ, with Jesus as the head. So, I recommend you find a church that follows Jesus faithfully that welcomes and encourages others to be like Christ in the world. This means more than just going to Sunday service, but make your fellow parishioners your friends and your family in college.
Be Involved in a Christian organization inside or outside of church
This sounds more the last one, but many churches have different organizations within them. You can’t strengthen your faith without actively learning, practicing and sharing your faith. Some organizations make retreats, like Awakening, some do service hours for Austin State Supported Living Center, which is for the intellectually disabled. These groups allow me to use my talents to serve God. If it is outside of your church, it can let you know similarities and differences between different denominations. You don;t have exclusive to your church, because Jesus didn’t exclude. All are welcome.
Be wary of the challenges of others
Some professors are against your faith. Some of your friends aren’t Christian, and may believe in different faith. So there will be arguments between you and others. I encourage you to know what to say and not be angry about it. You want to stand up, but you don’t always have to win. The main idea is you want the other person to know how important God is to you. This makes being honest, kind, and loving, not prideful or arrogant. You want them to know God through you, but it doesn’t have to be a eloquent speech. Just understanding their opinion and explaining what you believe through actions and words.
Be wary of the challenges such as politics, and sex, campus culture
This is more of being against principles rather people, and in a sense, that is way you should approach challenges. I know being pro-life is hard. in a age where abortion is considered a part of feminine health care and the death penalty still exists, but I realize how important it is to love, and speak up for those who don’t have a voice. I see the value in the possibility of a satisfying life in forgiveness and love.
As for campus culture, be aware when you go to parties what’s going on. This doesn’t mean don’t party, but be safe when you do. Don;t drink to excess. Don’t have sex until marriage. I know that colleges want to prevent rape and sexual assault by making consent and safe sex a priority, but as Christians, we hold ourselves to higher standards by waiting until marriage. This way, we know the commitment is real, and the sex is not just for pleasure, but an expression of love between two people united by God and for the creation of another human being.
Maintain a personal relationship with God
I cannot say enough about having a strong relationship with God. You want to be more than friends with God. You need to find your place in God’s will, rather than just finding a place for Christ in your life. Make Christ the center of your life. Then let your college years be a time to “discover, develop, and deploy” your talents. That way you can find what you are good at, strengthen your faith, and share your faith to others. This doesn’t have to be only within the church, but wherever you are in whatever you do. Your prayers need to be more just requests, but a conversation with the creator of the universe. I am certain that if you want to remain Christian in college, keep strong in your faith in God, and bring your faith into whatever you say and do. God continues to do amazing things, but we need to active to see and understand it all, and be a part of the Body of Christ here on Earth.
The Nerd of May