A few weeks ago, we asked you to send in brief paragraphs about witnessing in your lives. We would like to continue this feature, so please feel free to send in short paragraphs to email@example.com anytime you like.
As a junior in college, I am used to disagreeing with almost all of my classmates’ opinions on moral issues. I am surrounded by people whose opinions differ drastically from my own concerning the LGBTQ community, abortion and politics in general. I have grown accustomed to my little bubble with my own unique Christian worldview, and I have learned to expect and respectfully challenge opinions that I disagree with. But just when I thought I had heard it all, I heard something from a classmate that I will probably never forget.
There is a young woman who sits next to me, who so beautifully and passionately expresses her opinions in a way that I wish I could. Unfortunately, more often than not, I disagree with her. She started talking about how we as a country still see gender as strictly male and female. I will loosely quote her:
We forget about this whole other side of gender -- trans and gender fluid, you know? In this classroom, we all agree on that. At least I hope we do, God-willing.
If my life were a movie, this scene would have had one of those slow-motion reaction shots with sad, dramatic background music.
God-willing, we all agree that gender is fluid and socially constructed?? She had just stated the exact opposite of God’s will and boldly used the term God-willing. As I am writing this, I understand that her use of the term was probably insignificant to everybody else in the classroom, even those with religious backgrounds. But in the moments after she said it, I felt more alone in my little bubble than I ever had before.
God’s children are everywhere aren’t they? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) If this is true, then why did it seem like everybody in that classroom was against me? I spent the rest of class feeling sorry for myself, wanting to go back to my apartment, bury myself in blankets and forget that I was in a small college town where almost everything I stand for is ridiculed and mocked.
“. . . God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) What a beautiful thing it is to remember that no matter what He allows to come our way, Jesus is with us in our trial and He has already born it for us!
I was feeling so alone in that small classroom that I forgot about some of the most important gifts God gives His children. According to His will, we have the joy of fellowship. According to His will, we have believing friends. According to His will, we have supportive families. According to His will, these people and institutions are in our earthly lives so we have resources with which we can “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) on His behalf. He gives us tools to advocate for the One who died for us. If He can do that ultimate act of love for His children, shouldn’t we be able to advocate for Him in every situation, no matter how lonely we might feel? God-willing, may every single one of us find in Him the strength to do so.
A couple of weeks ago, work was slow and one of my coworkers approached me to talk. He told me how a customer had started telling him about his day, how he began every day by reading the Word of God. The customer continued talking about God and his power and influence in our lives. He only stopped when my coworker told him all of that talk was making him uncomfortable.
My coworker expressed to me that he didn’t understand why someone would start talking to a complete stranger about God like that. I wanted to respond in the perfect way, to make him understand that our mission during this life is to spread God’s Word! At the same time, though, I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, as he said the customer had. I didn’t know how to express my faith without scaring him away.
The one thing I knew I could do was say a quick prayer. I asked God to give me courage to speak of my faith in Him, and to provide me with the right words to say. And that is exactly what He did. With the Lord’s help, I talked with my coworker about my faith and about how the customer was doing God’s will. I learned that my coworker grew up a Christian, but years ago turned away from God and turned to science instead. Looking at the world around him, he said that science explained things better than God did. It didn’t make sense to him to believe in something that he couldn’t see. I expressed to him that no, we don’t have tangible proof of everything and we can’t see God. However, the world around us does speak to His power; we just have to look for it. We know what to look for because of what God's Word says. Faith is trusting whatever He says even if we cannot see it, as said in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
As he went back to work, I mentioned to him that maybe the customer had given him something to ponder that day. And I thanked God for giving me the words to say and the courage to do His will.
In a world of darkness, being a beacon of light captures people's attention. Throughout my time of being immersed in the art culture in college, I have especially noticed this to be true. People see when you act differently than everyone else or don't contribute to sinful conversations. A number of people have come up to me and asked me why I believe what I believe about God's Word. Therefore, it is extremely important that your life always points towards Christ in order to be a witness for Him.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
I have often struggled with speaking up and standing out when those around me are are speaking about topics contradictory to the truth that God has provided us in His word. Not only is it difficult to stand against what seemingly everyone is in agreement about, but finding the right time to bring up your opinions and beliefs can also be challenging. Intimate, one-on-one conversations are where I feel the most comfortable opening up about my beliefs, and I feel that it is important to not pass up these opportunities to talk about your beliefs with those who are closest to you: friends, roommates and potential dating partners. When dating, being upfront and confident about your beliefs early in a relationship will save you a lot of heartache down the road. As great as it would be, you don’t need to convert everyone who has different beliefs. But as long as there can be mutual respect for each other's different opinions, your relationship with that person shouldn’t have to change. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way that it often works out. But when friends then start to throw false accusations your way, co-workers act differently around you or someone you were dating stops talking to you, be encouraged that you were true to yourself and faithful to your Creator. The best you can do then is to continue to live as God’s witness through your actions and pray for those who oppose you.
“So everyone who acknowledges me before me, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32)