The importance of finding your own faith in collegeBy Danielle Waddell | 09/21/2015 1:52pm
All too many students who attended church for most, if not all, of their lives stop attending once they arrive at college. Many non-Christians blame this on the church, while the church puts the blame on college professors, lack of community and worldly influences. Rather than playing the blame game, both non-Christians and the church should realize where the fault actually lies.
While many students do choose to stop attending church when they enter into college, this cannot be blamed on the church. The church has been criticized by some saying that it teaches Christian youth to avoid new ideas and shields students from the varying beliefs of the world. In my experience, this is not the case.
Rather than being taught to isolate ourselves in ignorance, Christians have been called to live “in the world, but not of it.” Others have taken this verse and erroneously said that the church uses it as an excuse to avoid embracing new ideas. Reading through the rest of this passage in John 17, Jesus prays and asks that his disciples will live as he did: in this world, but not of it. Then he gives another call, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Christ and his church aren’t calling Christians to remain intentionally ignorant of other ideas and beliefs or avoid learning about new theories and discoveries. Instead, he sends us. In Matthew 28, we are called to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do this in ignorance.
When traveling to a new place, learning the culture is a major asset. Being aware of the ins and outs of their culture helps any global goal to be accomplished.
Christians aren’t called to learn in ignorance–how can we reach people if we don’t know where they stand? Instead we must learn the varying beliefs, cultures and ideas that surround us. It is our personal relationship with Christ that allows us to learn these things without being made vulnerable and allowing doubt to creep in. We need to care enough about the people around us to learn about what they believe, while also standing firm in our own beliefs and find a way to bridge the gap and make a connection despite any differences.
As for scientific discoveries, theories and ideas, a number of Christians connect ideas like evolution and the Big Bang to their Christian beliefs. While not biblically supported, these ideas and others like them could easily be connected to the non-detailed creation account in Genesis. These ideas cannot be confirmed or denied through the Bible’s teachings, so it all circles back to a Christian’s personal walk with Christ and what he or she feels lines up with Scripture.
Finally, this could be the true reason so many college students choose not to attend church: there was never a personal Christ-to-heart connection, and these students just assimilated the beliefs they’ve always heard of. Throughout the entire Bible, Christians are called to form a personal relationship with God, not merely relying on their knowledge of the Bible or the salvation of their family or their regular church attendance or their doing good deeds to save them from an eternity separated from God.
While the church has received plenty of criticism for its lack of open-mindedness and its harsh denials of worldly beliefs, I could not be more proud. These are the churches that are following Christ’s call to live in the world-–know it, see it, hear it, love the people in it despite differences of opinion–but not of the world. These churches stay true to Jesus’ teachings and continue to call sin sin in love and truth. Each of us is given a choice to take a personal walk toward and with Christ: the church can’t choose it for us. Seek the truth and you will find it; God’s word does not return void, Isaiah 55:11.
Danielle Waddell is sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column runs weekly.