For many, the college years are a formative time in life. Today, Stephen Nichols encourages students on how they can remain faithful to their Christian convictions in this environment.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: How can Christians remain faithful while in college? Joining us this week is the president of Reformation Bible College, Dr. Stephen Nichols. Dr. Nichols, how can Christians remain faithful while in college?
DR. STEPHEN NICHOLS: College is a very exciting time. It’s also a very challenging time. For many, they are away from home for the first time, and they’re out from some of those structures that have been in place. And of course, in our current moment, especially at many universities across America, but even globally, we realize that the college campuses are both a challenge ethically and morally, but also in terms of intellectually and worldview. If we put it more directly: there’s a lot of hostility towards both a Christian ethic and a Christian worldview on most college campuses. So, how does a Christian respond to that? How does a Christian young man or woman stay faithful to their convictions?
Well, number one, we must stay close to God’s Word. It’s going to be challenged. It’s going to be seen as outdated. It’s going to be seen in some places as a dangerous book that promotes sexism and misogyny and slavery, and it’s not only not helpful; it’s harmful. Well, we have to remember first and foremost, whatever stage we are in life, we submit to Scripture; it doesn’t submit to us—so that posture of submission to God’s Word. I love it when I look at my Bible. They used to be printed on the covers of Bible; now they’re printed on the spines—but Holy Bible—we need to remember that. Every time we come to this book, it is a holy book. We are entering holy ground, and it is God’s Word to us. So, first and foremost, remember what God’s Word is and stay in it. Study it. It’s the only way that we will be able to understand what God wants for us as disciples and to respond to the challenges that we face.
Number two, align yourself with like-minded Christians. The poet says, “No one is an island,” right? It’s hard to go it alone, and it’s much easier when we have friends and support. So, align yourself with truly like-minded Christians. That’ll give you a couple of things: it’ll give you encouragement, it will give you accountability, and it will also give you a sort of oasis within a midst of hostility and challenge.
Thirdly, and it really goes along with reading the Bible, but it’s prayer. And when we are in moments that are new, we can have challenges. And when we are being challenged, we recognize that we have limitations, and we recognize that we don’t know everything. And those are good situations to be in because they force us to recognize our dependence on God, especially, and that drives us to prayer and seeking wisdom. And James tells us, “If you want to be wise, pray for it,” and God gives wisdom liberally and generously to those who pray for it (James 1:5). So, we really need wisdom at this crucial moment as crucial decisions are being made and life trajectories are being set. So, prayer.
The other thing is, and sometimes we neglect this, especially if there are peer groups and associations on campus that are very healthy for Christians, but do not neglect the local church. I’ve heard it said from one of the folks who’s on staff over at Reformation Bible College, she says to the students: “You’re only going to be in college for two or three or four years. You are going to be in church for the rest of your life.” So, don’t think of college as a parentheses from church. Don’t think of Sunday mornings as, “I really need to sleep in.” Prioritize the local church. Spend time when you get to campus, even ahead of getting to campus, to find a local church that is going to preach the Word, to which you can be solidly aligned, one where you will worship God and be taught Scripture.
And here’s another thing church will give you: it will give you some intergenerational contact. One of the things with college life is you don’t want to be totally constricted and confined to your peers. So, go to church and hang out with older people. I think it could be really good for you.
So, it’s a challenge, but there are ways to be faithful. And no matter what stage we find ourselves in life, we have to remember, above all, our calling is to be faithful disciples of Christ.
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