Murray, Kentucky is not exactly what I would call a Lutheran-rich environment. There is one LCMS congregation in Murray, and the next closest Missouri Synod congregation is about an hour or more away in any direction. Murray is dominated primarily by Baptists, Methodists, and Church of Christ congregations. We have about six active members in our college campus ministry group here at Murray State University, while the other denominations boast numbers of 20 or more. These groups offer flashy programs and activities to involve the kids, and some kids would prefer to be in these rather than be in the minority. Or even still my friends will stop coming because they just want to make the weekend a relaxing time for them, rather than learn alongside fellow Lutherans, where God gives us strength, comfort, and a place to rest.
That said, there are two main areas I have struggled with while on campus: time management and my studies. Learning to balance work, classes, a social life, and church is a true test of our time management skills as young adults. Sometimes these things clash. It is easy to want to go out and have fun rather than study, or sleep in and have some “me time” rather than go to church. My sophomore year I had a professor who gave my humanities class a paper to write, proving how the Bible was wrong and that Jesus never rose from the dead because that’s impossible. I had the option to stand up for what the Bible says—that Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, died and rose again for you and me—or I could save my grade, give in and contradict my beliefs and convictions. I did write the paper, and I included a defense of the resurrection to my professor, and ultimately I got an A on my paper. Standing up for what we believe isn’t always easy, but it’s important that when we are in these situations that we do stand up for faith, and proudly dare to be Lutheran whether it is in the classroom or in our personal life. Sometimes standing up for your faith simply means to make time for church on Sunday mornings during your time in college.
The world is not our friend, and the devil is always looking for ways to slip us up. By threatening our social lives, our grades, and our wellbeing Satan will stop at nothing to snatch us out of God’s flock the church. He will point us to the flash and flair that perhaps bigger denominations or ministries have.
The fact is, even on the college campus, the devil has no power over you. God loves you and me and has He sent His Son to die for us. By the death of His Son, sin, death, and the devil were defeated and the cross became a source of life and comfort for all people. The cross is the place where water and blood flow from Christ’s side, and we are washed with this water in our baptisms, uniting us in Christ’s death. Just as we are united in Christ’s death we are also united in His resurrection (Romans 6:5) and we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Galatians 3:27) and God gives us the gift of eternal life. Therefore, we are invited and we should gladly gather around on Sunday mornings and receive the true Body and Blood of the lamb, because that is the only thing that will give us strength and comfort to get through this life. It is at the cross that we find safety from all the threats from this world, and it is at the cross that we receive the means that give us the strength to dare to be Lutheran on campus and in our lives, no matter where we are.
Justin Chester served as a College Conference Volunteer at the Higher Things 2016 Bread of Life conference at Vanderbilt University.