College is hard. It’s one of the most stressful times in life and the fact that you are away from home and familiarity only makes it harder. While college is difficult, it is also liberating. You are more independent, able to form different opinions and voice them, venture in different areas of life, and learn about things you otherwise would have never had the opportunity to learn about.
Sometimes, the combination of freedom and stress can lead to a lackluster faith. With less accountability and more deadlines, it can become easy to forget about God, worship, and Jesus’ call to live a holy life. College is supposed to be fun, and challenging, but it’s not worth turning your back on God over. Here are four things to consider when striving to stay faithful in college.
Get Involved with an Assembly
This is a big one. We can’t expect to grow in faith if we are not involved with the assembly of Christians near our university. Thankfully, I get to go to a Christian university with a plethora of Christ-magnifying congregations within driving distance, but not everybody has this experience. If you’re at a school with a sparse Christian community, you may have to do more research into where and when you can assemble with the saints and worship.
It may take some effort, but it will be worth it. Assembling and fellowshipping are vital aspects of a thriving faith. Notice Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
It’s about more than just going to church. It’s about assembling with God’s people and actually putting in the effort to stir up love and good works in others and yourself. Without the experience of regular immersion in God’s word and prayer and singing with God’s people, faith is hard to maintain. Christianity is designed to be lived out in a community of believers. Find that community of God’s people where you are, and you won’t regret it.
Remember Who Owns You
Most young Christians have probably heard the cliche, “remember who you are and whose you are.” Though this statement may cause some of us to roll our eyes, it does allude to an important truth. While at college, you may be away from your parents, your preacher, your mentor, your youth minister, etc. but you are never away from God.
We need to remember that even when we are away from home, and mom and dad are nowhere in sight, we’re still God’s own possession. Paul, while discussing sexual immorality, pens this needed reminder:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:18-20)
While the initial application is about sexual purity, the principle extends well beyond that. The truth is, if I am a Christian, I am the Lord’s and the Lord is mine. Though my sin separated me from Him, He bought me back through the blood of His Son and now I am His.
This means that my number one concern shouldn’t be what I want for myself, but what God wants for me. Since God has bought me, my focus is to glorify God in my body. He’s given us our new life in Christ, the least we could do is live it for Him.
Keep Things in Perspective
It’s easy for our priorities to become out of whack while in college. We just get so focused on the stress and deadlines right in front of us that we forget about the big picture. There is nothing wrong with a college education, hanging out with friends, or staying up until 2 am playing video games. But, when these things eclipse our love and devotion to God, idolatry creeps in and faithlessness will result.
Besides, at the end of all days, our degrees, research papers, and video game achievements will all be in the great fire. Only our souls will continue to exist, so that is what we should give priority to. When all is said and done, the only thing that will continue into the next life is our relationship with the One who made us, so let’s do what we can to make sure that relationship is worth spending eternity in. God through Peter put it this way:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. (2 Pet 3:10-14 NASB)
The college experience is great, but it is fleeting and temporary. Eternity with God is much better by far. Let’s not let the eternal be pushed aside by the temporary.
Christianity Was a Privilege Before it Was a Responsibility
Sometimes while in college faithfulness can feel more like a chore than a blessing. The zeal and joy we felt when we first put on Christ can fade into an inconvenient monotony. Whenever our faith seems to become more of an inconvenience than a blessing, maybe we should pray the prayer of David recorded in Psalm 51:10-11: "Create in me a clean heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence And do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit."
When we are more mindful of our state without the grace of God, all that God went through to save us, and the blessings of being in Christ, the result will be an uptick in zeal. I encourage you to dwell on how joyous you were when you put on Christ and realize that the benefits and blessings you were so joyous about at that time are still present in your life through the grace of God. Faithfulness isn’t a matter of working our way to a right relationship with God. Instead, it is our response to the soul-saving grace of God (Titus 2:11-14).
College can be a challenging time of transition, but faith makes it easier. Our Christianity doesn’t have to be put on hold during our college years. Actually, it should flourish.
If we would get involved with the Christian community around us, remember that God is our Lord, keep our priorities straight, and re-spark our zeal by meditating on God’s word and our salvation, our faith can increase in college by God’s grace.
Above all, if we can dedicate a portion of our free time to prayer and reading God’s word, we will be well-equipped to remain faithful in college.