Written by Caleb Gerbitz / March 2016
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and the glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 3:18-20
Dear College Students,
As a college student at a public university, how often do you feel as though you are on a island? How often does it seem that your beliefs make you an outcast? How often does it feel that no one agrees with you? Perhaps it is on weekends as friends plan a night of drinking at house parties. Maybe it is during the day, in class, when a professor states that the idea of a 6,000 year old earth is archaic and laughable. Possibly, it is when a friend lightly speaks of their casual sex of the prior night. Each time your gut twists and your heart sinks a little bit more. Maybe you’re numb to it all by now.
As Christians pursuing professional degrees from public universities, we are forced to find a way to live in these spiritually hostile environments every day. It grows tiresome, as often becomes the case when you are doing anything on your own. Throughout our college experience, but especially when we feel most alone, we must remember that, in Christ, we have the best Friend and Ally on which to lean. What’s more, we have the best handbook in the Bible to guide us through every situation we face.
Every challenge that we face, Christ already conquered. Through His perfect life, death, and resurrection, Jesus secured our permanent salvation, a salvation we will enjoy eternally.
The first words we must remember are from Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Even when the principles laid out in the Bible come under assault, the all-powerful Lord stands by our side. When difficult times arise, call upon the Lord in prayer, confident that he will give you the strength to carry on.
Why can we be confident He will answer? Because of what Christ did for us, we find certainty in His promise to guide us. John 16:33 says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Think about that for a moment. Every challenge that we face, Christ already conquered. Through His perfect life, death, and resurrection, Jesus secured our permanent salvation, a salvation we will enjoy eternally.
So, being confident in our faith and the promise of salvation, how should we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day student life? This is where the Bible becomes our guide. First, turn to 1 Corinthians 10:31 and read the words, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Next, visit Proverbs 3:5-6 where it reads, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!” Finally 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” Let us keep our Lord close, through Word and prayer. Only there will we find the strength to stand tall as representatives of the Lord.
How can our actions guide those around us who may be entrenched in today’s college lifestyle? First, we must act out of love. “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” (John 13:34) Second, out of love, we must set an example as Ephesians 4:29 explains, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” By setting a godly example, we will “heap burning coals” on the heads of our neighbors who have strayed (Proverbs 25:22). Through our daily testimony, the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of those with whom we come in contact.
To do this every day is not easy. Temptations abound. It may become tiresome to always be the odd one out. For your encouragement, I want to leave you with a couple reminders. First remember Job, who said in Job 2:10, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job’s faith led him to bear the cross laid upon him, and in bearing that cross, he witnessed to those who encouraged him to stray. Job understood what the psalmist meant when he said in Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.” Finally, we must keep in sight the goal for which we strive. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved,” (Philippians 3:20-4:1)