If My Giant Sack of Bibles Doesn’t Give Me Away

After nine years of college, five majors, and one school transfer, I’m starting my final semester for a bachelor’s degree in communication this week. If everything goes according to plan, this will be the last time I have my pre-semester huddle with myself to remember my class strategy:

I don’t tell people at school I am a Christian.

Immediately sharing my faith in a university setting has historically only closed doors for me. I would rather have my classmates get to know me- let them get to understand that I love them. Let them get the chance to know that I make jokes, not judgements. I bring snacks, not condemnation. My Bible is for reading, not beating. I ride to class on my bike, not hovering on a cloud of my own self-righteousness. (Too much? I’ll move on.)

I get frustrated when someone in class announces that he or she is a Christian on the first day. It is usually proclaimed with an air of superiority, as if this Christian title should grant instant moral authority. One might as well announce “Well I already know everything about morality and any decision I will ever have to make so don’t bother questioning me or even starting a conversation with me. I’m here to be right and to judge you who aren’t.”

So what are my hopes? In a class of 30, I want to actually get to know six or seven people, develop meaningful relationships with two or three of those, and then be able to actually share the gospel with one or two. Really, I like my faith to be a little bit of a mystery because it gives me the opportunity to be genuine with folks. It is not assumed that I’m anti-everything and anti-everybody and therefore having a conversation  or questioning me should be avoided. Compare that to other semesters when, on the first day, I had to reveal I was a Christian because the professor asked where I worked- the only conversations I was able to have with my classmates was with a Republican who called himself a Christian also. And the only reason he talked with me about faith was because he expected me to side with him in his defense of the prohibition of Sunday alcohol sales. I didn’t.

You may be thinking that this seems like an extreme way to avoid judgement. To be clear; I always share when someone asks. And I always strive to be asked at some point in the semester by the group I form relationships with. When they ask I get to hold their attention for more than one word (“Christian”) which allows me to communicate a little bit more about why I believe.

So, college Christians- what has been your experience? Share on the first day or wait and build relationships?

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3 comments

  1. This is an old post, but I read it every once in a while to remind myself that there are level-headed Christians who believe Jesus Christ is the savior and in God’s wisdom, but that it’s also personal and not something to brag about. It’s not about religion, it’s about your relationship with God. It’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about FAITH (because that’s all any religious system is. No living person can actually know God exists).

    You always remind me of my best friend, Christina. She’s a devout, sometimes stubborn Christian, fervent in her faith, but she’s open-minded and practical. She separates her politics from her religion, she doesn’t necessarily believe that Christianity is better than Judaism, Hinduism, etc… She chooses to learn about other systems of belief if only to strengthen her own, but she is respectful of them nevertheless. She chooses to worship God through Christianity. Other friends choose to worship through Judaism. In the end, they both respect how the other chooses to worship the same God. I myself am agnostic. I can see the argument for both sides, and sometimes I want to say “I know there’s validity to the non-existence of God, but if I can reconcile something like the Big Bang Theory with God creating the universe (which I can) then it makes sense that I put my faith in God.” (keep in mind I’m all about the logic.) Then some “devout” pompous, self-righteous bible thumper comes around telling me that only Christians can be saved by Jesus (another big problem I have as Catholic school constantly reminded me that Jesus was the vessel through which GOD saved humanity and should be thanked, not worshiped) and that I’m going to Hell for supporting civil rights or believing that prayer in schools is wrong because it is ALWAYS Christian prayer (and that’s discriminatory to other belief systems)… I can’t put my faith in a God that allows such rampant hypocrisy and intolerance. It’s not logical and violates my personal code of morality- respect. And now I’m stuck back in the middle.

    The point is, I would be more willing to put my faith in God (and practice through Christianity) if there were more Christians like yourself. Level-headed, respectful of other people’s beliefs and their own personal relationship with God, and honest.

    • Christina must be awesome. And handsome. And a great frisbee player. And modest.

      For the record, I totally agree with you about supporting civil rights -all of them-, and about the dangers of prayer in school. I’ll probably do a post about both at some point. I can’t condemn anyone, period, much less you for believing those things.

      The thing about hypocrisy, though, is that it pisses me off too. For example, I think it is ok to say things “piss me off”. Some folks will probably say I’m going to hell for that. But those guys are buttholes, so, whatever.

      Hypocrisy also infuriated God and Jesus. The only times I can remember Jesus getting outright condemning is when religious elite told him or the people he was loving on that they were doing religion wrong and started putting heavy burdens on them. He called them hypocrites (or whatever the greek word for hypocrite was at the time… I only read english) and said stuff like “woe to you” which is like saying “your life sucks.”

      Many Christian movements have started because the younger generation looked at the scriptures and saw something much different from what was being taught or enforced. So I don’t think there is anything wrong with your thought process. In fact, I kind of think that’s a holy way of thinking.

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  2. I have had this problem often. In fact, pretty much everyday. On the one hand, nothing makes you sound more pompous than shouting “hey everyone I am a Christian! I am perfect and impressive and judge you morally in every way.” On the hand, I know that I am called (as well as desire to) speak the Gospel no matter what the cost. So, you’re problem is my everyday struggle as well. I can certainly say that I have been called out about my strategies on telling people about Christ before. Someone said to me “you never saw Paul or Peter going out and having coffee two or three times a week with a person in order to open the door. They literally just preached it. Sometimes randomly in the streets, sometimes randomly on stage, sometimes just plain randomly.” So, I do not know the answer to the question you have presented me with. All I know is that whether it is the first day or the last day, I fail at it way more than I should…


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