The other day I was sitting having sushi with a good friend of mine when we started talking about a classmate of hers in her college.
A fellow Christian, this person was capable of spending hours in prayer everyday, constantly reading the bible, was said to hear many things from God often, and overall seemed to have a strong relationship with God. The only problem? She was also failing out of college, getting Cs and Ds, sleeping til noon or 1pm everyday and barely attending class.
As we delved deeper into the conversation, amidst my obviously raised eyebrows at this situation, a question came up in our conversation. Can one be too spiritual to the point of redundancy? And when does being overtly “Christian” start to hurt our witness to those around us?
Being Christian in College
Before we get any further, let’s get one thing straight: I don’t think prayer is bad. Neither do I think spending time reading the bible or listening for what God is speaking to you is detrimental. However, I am also of the opinion that if it starts to get to the point where your “spiritualness” causes you to neglect your daily responsibilities, it doesn’t just create problems for yourself, it can also hurt your witness.
The fact is that being a Christian in college can be challenging. Students are faced with many things that they might never have to deal with. I myself remember having friends who were involved in drugs, alcohol, partying, relationships and a whole slew of other things. It is overwhelming and somewhat intimidating.
For those who don’t get pulled into the craziness of college life, some choose the opposite route and stick only to Christian friends, Christian events and Christian activities. The thought is, if I stay in the safety of the Christian bubble, I won’t mess up. But is being a Christian in college only about not messing up? Or is there more to this life of faith?
Finding a Balance between God and Life
As far as I can tell, Christians at any point in their life have at least two roles to fill. What I mean is that at all times, we are called to following Christ, and also to complete the tasks and responsibilities assigned to us. For some it is being a spouse and parent, for others it’s doing their job well at work. For college students, well I think it’s pretty obvious, your role is to study, go to class, and do your best in your work.
We must remember that while God should definitely be the central focus of our lives, that does not mean we neglect everything else. The bible itself says that unless an authority is explicitly commanding you to go against God, we should obey them. (Romans 13:1-5) Therefore, in the case of college life, go to class! Study and learn! After all, what’s the point of paying all that money for classes if you aren’t going to attend any?
Witnessing in All Situations, at All Times
What I’m urging you to remember as a Christian college student is that whether you realize it or not, you are witnessing to everyone around you all the time. A lot of people think of witnessing as the act of verbally evangelizing the gospel to someone, but I counter that we witness in our actions too.
Many college professors today don’t have relationships with Jesus, and it could be that God has placed you in a particular class so you can reach out to them in conversations and interactions. At our recent Rez Week here at UT, I heard our guest speaker say that “before we evangelize to someone, we have to earn the right to be heard.”
I think this phrase applies here. If we want others around us to listen to what we have to say about Christ, then it must begin with our actions, whether that’s making time to go to lunch with someone and attend their parties, or doing your assignments on time, paying attention and going to class regularly.
So as you’re going about your day today, ask yourself: “What is my witness saying to others around me? And in what ways can I earn the right to be heard?”
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org