Ever heard the following statement? “Experimenting is normal. It’s just what college kids do.”
I don’t know about you, but I fell for that ploy hook-line-and-sinker. I dared not question that the “rules” of my faith did not have to follow me into college. And why would I? I was given that subtle but very understood “go ahead” to party, experiment, and party some more. It was bliss (or so I thought).
I mean, who would question that rite of passage?
I attended a football game recently at a very well renowned college in Mississippi. It’s a beautiful campus! Before my friend and I left that night, we decided to walk through an area where most of the tailgaters congregate.
The pungent odors and layers of beer cans strewed all over the place was very upsetting to me.
Here I am on this gorgeous campus, and it looks like Mardi Gras just wrapped. (Anyone who’s ever attended Mardi Gras can attest that after the parades are over, it’s disgusting to walk the streets!)
What I found more disturbing than the upheaval of this beautiful campus were the students walking around in a drunken daze.
The “drunken” sway and heavy eyes made it pretty clear they never made it to the game. Now, understand, there’s no judgment here. I, too, was once one of them. I probably thought I was really “cool” until age and two children pointed me in a new direction.
I shared my observations with a coworker, and, in return, he shared a very honest and personal take on his time in college. “I look back and think how much time I wasted backsliding on my faith,” he recalls. “All those nights spent in a drunken stupor really just slowed me down!”
I think so many of us realize, after college, that we could’ve been more wise with our time. College is a pivotal turning point for so many of us, yet we’re somehow subconsciously told over and over that we have some type of “free pass” to back off on our faith during this season.
Don’t believe me? Look back after your first year of college is over and tell me how many of your friends “drank the Kool-Aid.”
Again, not everyone falls away, but many do. In reality, college should be the time we cling to our faith and seek guidance from God more than ever.
No one is saying you have to be a “stick in the mud” or a “fuddy dud.” You can have fun and still be a Christian. Following Christ is not a death sentence! I can recall many “fun” experiences college promised that turned into disasters.
Unfortunately, what we choose to do with our time in college can have an effect on what happens afterwards.
So why is faith so important during your college years? Here are four things to consider:
1. Your future is being decided (and hopefully studied). Seek guidance from the One directing that future.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
2. Most people will meet their future spouse while at college. 60% of people claiming to be Christians yet do not attend church end up divorced. Those who attend church on a regular basis have a fairly lower divorce rate at 38%.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
(Source: Bradley R.E. Wright, “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told,” [Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010], p. 133.)
3. College campuses are an open mission field. Use that time to introduce your college friends to Christ.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-19)
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
4. For sexually active college students, STDs and pregnancy rates are fairly high. 45% of abortions are obtained by college-age women.
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
(Source: Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in 2000–2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(5):226–235.)
Above all, remember that college (nor any other season in life) is not the time to disregard your faith. Finish strong, fight the good fight, and understand that you might be the only light for Jesus on a dark campus. It’s an honor and privilege to be a Christ-follower. Don’t waste the opportunity.
Sarah West is the Youth and College Counselor at her local pregnancy help center in Laurel, MS. She works directly with youth and college groups to educate them on the importance of healthy choices and their relationship with Christ. You can connect with Sarah on her blog at Heartskeeper and Twitter.