Speaking of Faith: Campus Christian

By Kurt Rouser

How can students stay connected to Christ in high school and college? In Romans 12:2 we are told not to be conformed to this world, but that does not mean we should be social outcasts. The same verse advises us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, that by testing we may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. As you gain independence at school away from home, it is critical that you remain united with others in the one Christian faith and recognize your special "watermarked" vocations.

As a university professor, I challenge Christian students to consider the question, "What is your vocation?" Understanding that a vocation is a calling, where has God called you? You have vocations as student, son or daughter, friend, church member, employee, brother or sister. This simply means that you do whatever is in front of you to do in order to serve the people God has put in your life. In Matthew 28:16-20, we read: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Academic campuses are filled by "all nations" seeking knowledge, which presents a unique opportunity to share your faith as you carry out your vocations. What follows here is practical advice for you as a Lutheran student. This advice flows from Scripture and my decades as a college student and professor. I do not intend this to be a "how-to" article adding to the Law, but rather a response to concerns I have frequently heard raised by students and their parents.

Be among the brothers and sisters.

I was raised in a Lutheran family in California and was very passionate about my faith all the way through high school. When I left home to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado, I found a natural sanctuary in the chapel and associated campus ministry.  It was great to interact with Christians of other denominations, but it resulted in doctrinal confusion for me, as I was untethered from regular fellowship in a Lutheran church. Thankfully, God blessed me with a Lutheran chaplain at my first duty station after graduation. That chaplain cleared up my confusion and connected me with a local Lutheran congregation. I continued to engage in the military chapel community, but my relationship with it changed as I hungered for the pure doctrine I was regularly fed in the Divine Service when in fellowship with other Lutherans.

My experience was like that of the apostles in Acts 1:14, who "with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer." I emphasize the need to be part of a Lutheran congregation, especially while separated from home--being in fellowship, in one accord and praying together. Students should consider membership in a local congregation that can care for their spiritual needs. A student may even find a local Lutheran congregation with an LCMS-U chapter. There are also many ways to connect through online resources such as Higher Things, Issues Etc., Lutheran Public Radio, and The Lutheran Hour (just to name a few), but frequenting a local congregation is crucial so you may be fed with God's Word and Sacrament.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting Lutheran students disengage from other Christians on campus. In fact, there could be many opportunities for evangelism, but our message is a special one. We can bear witness to unbelievers and fellow Christians on campus. As we read in 1 Peter 3:15, it is important to "always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." We are "watermarked" in our Baptism to bear "witness of His resurrection" (Acts 1:22). We have a unique understanding of the true Christian faith to share with all nations on campus--believers and unbelievers--particularly about justification apart from works and how we are united with Christ in Baptism.

Share with the "Men of Athens."

High school and college campuses present a unique setting to share the Gospel at any potential moment with those already in a learning mindset. Note the words of the Apostle Paul to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2). You might be asking a reasonable, practical question: "How do I even begin?"

Read the approach Paul took in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), where he "reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there." Consider his message:

"…he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.'"

Much like the Areopagus in Athens, academic institutions are a place to reason with those who happen to be there, potentially from all nations around the world. So, how do you enter a conversation that will segue into sharing your faith? Jesus showed a simple approach with a Samaritan woman in John 4:4-42 by starting with an ordinary request for a drink, which led to a discussion of the living water He gives "welling up to eternal life." Can you imagine having such a conversation with a friend over lunch or a cup of coffee that could spur more interest in your beliefs?

In Acts 17, Paul intrigued the "men of Athens" by explaining further what he believed. He started by saying,

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything" (v. 24)
He started by introducing God the Father, maker of heaven and earth (the Apostles' Creed)!  This message is often in conflict with the modern science taught at academic institutions, but it is important to establish the God of creation so that you can continue with the message:

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but know He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead" (v. 30).

For those with a troubled conscience who are seeking truth, it is important that you point to Christ crucified and bear "witness of the resurrection." However, be cautioned about the response you may receive. In Athens, "when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, 'We will hear you again about this.'"

Expect a "fiery trial."

Paul issues the same caution in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 about those who will not receive your message:

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

Likewise, Peter warns in 1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." So do not be discouraged when your message is not received, but remember that God's Word does not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). You could be planting a seed today that may yield a harvest later!

It takes a lot of courage to share your faith, making yourself vulnerable to potential ridicule. This brings back the importance of being in fellowship with other Lutherans, a source of encouragement.  I will end here with the same advice Peter offers in 1 Peter 5:6-11:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Whether this fall will be your first time on a college campus or you are returning for another year, you can always start fresh, making the most of every opportunity to share the Good News--the Gospel that has watermarked you for the amazing vocation of bearing witness to Jesus and Him crucified!

Dr. Kurt Rouser is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU). He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. He has served as an elder in multiple congregations across the country while on active duty and continues at St Paul Lutheran Church in Wellston, Oklahoma, where he attends with his wife and seven children. He has been involved in various campus ministries and is currently a part of the Fellowship of Christian Faculty and Staff at OSU.

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one's partner abuse=pattern of behavior to control one\'s partner abuser entitled to happiness abuse academic accountability active acts 14 acts 15 acts 16 acts 18 acts 19 acts 20 acts 21 acts 22 acts 23 acts 24 acts 25 acts 26 acts 27 acts 28 acts 2 acts 8 acts 9 acts2 acts addiction adultery adults advice aerospace agnostic alcoholic aliens all christians who have been baptized almighty altar at Bethel altar guild altar angels angel anger angle= messengers animal anouthen answer anti-christian anti-vaccers antinomians antinomian antioch antiphonal anxiety apologetic apostles apostle archaeology archangels arise arius ark arresst Jesus arrest Jesus assurance athanasian atheism atheist audience augustana authority of the Son authority babies babylon baby baggage banquet baptism baptized baptizing barnabas barren bartholomew be informed beat servants (phrophets) become Jesus' disciples become Jesus\' disciples before Abraham was beginning belief in Jesus beliefs belief believers believes belive belivf has eternal life benjamin best constuction betrayal betray bias bible bigots bigot birds of the air birthright blessings blessing blind blood blues body and blood body bonhoeffer borghardt borg borhgardt born again bread is my flesh bread breakup bride of Christ bridegroom bride bring Isaac to Eygpt brothers hated Joseph brothers sold Joseph brothers brother brown buetow burdens burial cain calendar cancel culture cancel cancer candle capture and plunderd Shechem casket catechism catechize celebration centurion change chant chief baker chief cupbearer child abuse children of israel children choir chosen christianity christ cleansed cleanses the temple cleansing clergy clerical cling coat of many colors codependency coin college colonies colonnade O Solomon colors colossians 1 colossians 2 colossians 3 colossians 4 comes from above comfort of forgiveness comfort commandments commandment command commendation compassion composer concupiscence condemn conferences confessions confession confess confidence confinement confirmation bias confirmation connection conspiracy theory context conversion coronavirus corporate corw values council covenant coveting creation creed cross crowds seeking Jesus crown crucified crucifix cruciflood cry out cry culture curb current events curse cwirla daily bread dan brown danger darkness dash dead man talked dead dean death debate between Jesus debtors debt decisions decreased trust in institutions decrease defeat defense defensiveness defined by baptism deistic deliberate deliverer demands demons demon depression deserve destroy and raise temple destroy deuteonomy 1 deuteronomy 10 deuteronomy 11 deuteronomy 12 deuteronomy 13 deuteronomy 14 deuteronomy 15 deuteronomy 17 deuteronomy 18 deuteronomy 19 deuteronomy 1 deuteronomy 21 deuteronomy 24 deuteronomy 25 deuteronomy 27 deuteronomy 28 deuteronomy 29 deuteronomy 2 deuteronomy 30 deuteronomy 31 deuteronomy 32 deuteronomy 3 deuteronomy 4 deuteronomy 5 deuteronomy 7 deuteronomy 8 deuteronomy 9 disagreement disaster disciples discipline dishonesty disinformation dispensational disruption diversity divorce do not be afraid do not condemn do not know the stranger's voice do not know the stranger\'s voice do research do unto others do you want to become his disciple? doctrines doctrine dogma domestic violence donkey door doubt doxology dreams dream drink his blood drink of water drove money changers from Temple dualistic dwelt among us dystopian earthquake easter eat his flesh ecclesiastes 1 ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embalming embarrassment emotional abuse emotions endure enemy engineering enlightened ephesians 1 ephesians 3 ephesians 4 ephesians 5 ephesians 6 epistle equal equilibrium escalates estates eternal iife eternal life evangelicalism evangelism evangelists evangelist evil evolution example excuses exhalted exhortation exile exodus 20 experience extra nos ezekiel 1 face to face failure fairytale faith alone faith vs worry faithful faith fall false teachers false teaching family famine fate father of lies fear feast feeling wheel feelings female feminism fig tree fire first disciples flesh font food that endures to eternal life foolishness foolish for you foreigners foretaste forgiveness of sins forgiveness forgiven forgive fortress fractal fraud free in Christ free to participate freedom from sin freedom freshman fringes fulfillment funeral fun future galatians 1 galatians 3 galatians 4 galatians 5 galatians 6 gathering fruit for eternal life gay gender generations generosity genesis 15 genesis 28 genesis 2 genesis 3 genesis 4 genesis11 genetic gentiles gerhardt getting punches in gifts gift girlfriend give me water give vineyard to others (gentiles) gloom glory gnosticism god's will god\'s will golf good deeds good fruit good samaritan good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep good work good gospels gospel government grace alone grace and truth grandma gratitude great commission greatness grief groom/instill fear groom guard guest guide guileless guilt haiti hannah happiness harmony hated become haters have mercy he could co nothing he without sin cast the first stone heal on the Sabbath healing of invalid healing on Sabbath healingl heaven heinz heirs hell helpful sites online heresy hidden bias high priest high school hired hand fleees his own historic history holocaust denier holy spirit holy trinity holy homework homologoumen homosexuality honor the Father honor hope hostility hour not yet come humbled humility hurt hymnal hymnody hymn hyper-partisanship hypocrites i never knew you i samuel 15 iPad iPhone identity idolatry image-bearer imitate imposters imputed increase incurvatus inheritance institutional racism institution intentional forgiveness intentional internet interpretation interpreta intimate relationship intimate introit invitation invite strangers (ggod irreducible complexity isaiah 29 isaiah 55 isaiah 6 isolation israel issuers issues ivory tower james jeremiah 23 jeremiah 8 jerome jerusalem jesus knows what is in Man jesus jewish job38 job john 10 john 12 john 13 john 14 john 16 john 19 john 20 john 21 john 3 john 6 john the baptist joshua 1 joshua 2 joshua 3 joy judas jude judgement is the Son's judgemental judgement judges 13 judges 14 judges 15 judges 16 judges 4 judges 6 judges 7 judge judging judgment seat judgment justification justify justin martyr kantor karma katrina keep keseman keys kill heir killed kings servants kind king=Jesus kingdom king kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law gives hearing lawyer tests Jesus law lay down my life and take it up again leaving mainline churches lectionary legacy lemon lentil stew lepers lex credendi lex orendi liberation life-changing life light of life light of the world light lilies of the field lion listen liturgical liturgy live forever live living bread living water lord's prayer lord\'s prayer lord\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s prayer lords prayer lords supper lost love God love your neighbor love lowly loyalists luke 10 luke 11 luke 14 luke 17 luke 18 luke 19 luke 21 luke 22 luke 23 luke 24 luke 7 luke23 luke24 luke5 lust lutheran madden magicians magisterial magruder mak 7 malachi 1 malachi 2 malachi 3 man born blind manifestation manipulative marginalized populations mark 10 mark 16 mark 6 mark 8 martyrdom martyr mary magdalene masks matthew 10 matthew 11 matthew 12 matthew 13 matthew 14 matthew 17 matthew 18 matthew 19 matthew 20 matthew 22 matthew 28 matthew 3 matthew 5 matthew 6 matthew 8 matthew 9 matthew28 matthew3 matthew6 means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracle mirrir missionaries missionary modernism money returned money moses mountains mountaintop movement multiply offsprings murder musician my Father my sheep follow me my testimony is true my truth=experience my word finds no place in you mythology myths myth name nathan nations nation natural disaster natures nature negative nehemiah 1 nehemiah 2 nehemiah 4 nehemiah 5 nehemiah 6 nehemiah 7-8 nehemiah 9 neighbor never been enslaved new life new man news nicea no compromise no guests came (Israel) no prophet from Gallee no religious affiliation noah non-masked normal practice not of God not the Christ numbers 21 numbers 22 numbers 23 numbers 24 numbers 35 numbers27 numbers32 obedience obey objective truth=God off the rails offering office of the holy ministry office of the keys offspring of Abraham old Adam old man omans 3 omans 6 one body onesimus only son opportunity to witness opposition orders ordinary ordination organized religion organ orthodox overcome overseer pagan pandemic panmillennialist papacy papyrus parable paralytic paraments parents said man born blind party passive pastoral care pastors pastor patriarch pattern of behavior paul peace peers pentecost people perfection persecute persecution perserve life persons person peter pharisee philemon 8-9 philemon philiipians 3 philippians 1 philippians 4 philosophy phrophet physician pietistic plots of covert groups polarized politics don't determine salvation politics pomises pool poor pope position positive post-Christian postmodern poverty power dynamic power practices praise prayer pray preaching preach pregnancy pregnant presence pride prison prizes procrastination prodigal son prodigal professor promised land promises promise prophecy prophets prophet protectors proverbs 10 proverbs 13 proverbs 24 proverbs 25 proverbs 27 proverbs 31 proverbs 3 proverbs 4 proverbs 5 proverbs 8 proverbs 9 proverbs22 provision psalm 122 psalm 13 psalm 20 psalm 25 psalm 28 psalm 2 psalm 48 psalm 51 psalm 54 psalm 68 psalm 74 psalm 84 psalm 86 psalm 92 psalm8 psychologists public punishment punish purification purity pwer/control quarantine question beliefs questions quid pro quo racial racism rags raise temple in 3 days raises the dead ransom rape rapture reality receiving recognition reconcile reconciliation record redeemed reformation refuge rejects standards rejoice relationship relativism religion religious repentance repent rescue resolution response resurrection return money revivalism rewards rich man richard rich righteousness rights riots risen ritual rivers of living waters robe of many colors rock romans 11 romans 9 romans6 routine rubbish rubies rulers rules ruth 1 sacrament of the altar sacrament sacrifice sadness saint salt salvation samaritan sanctification satanic satan satis est saul save you saved us saved savesinners save saving scholarships school science scientist scoreboard scripture sea of Capernaum seasons sea second sign seek and find seek to kill me self-esteem selflessness senior sent before him sepulcher seraphim sermon servants servant service sexts sexual immorality sexual orientation sexual shaltanis shame shatlanis sheep knows his voice sheep shepherd shield shrewd sick sight signs simple belief simul justus et peccator simul sin no more singleness sing sinners sinner sins sin slave to sin slavery slaves become enslavers slaves small catechism snowflake social distancing social media amplifies social media sola sold into slavery son of Joseph sophia sorrow sorry soul speak as the Father taught me speaker sphere spies spirit and truth spiritualists spiritual spirit sports st. michael star steroids steward strength stress strong student loan stumbling block subjective substance suffering suicide supernatural surreal symbol synagogue systemic racism tabernacle table of duties task-oriented tax collector taxation teaching teach technology temple temptation tertullian tetelestai texts thankful the Christ the Promise the Son of Go may be glorified through it the Twelve the dreamer the truth will set you free theology there will be one flock they cast hi out thief comes to steal and kill this illness doesnot lead to death thomas tic time not fully come time titus 3 titus3 to show the work of God toil tomb tongues touch dead body touching tragedy translator trap trials tribulations trinity triune troops sent to destroy city true woshipers trust Word of God trust in God trustworthy trust truth tweets type A unbelief wrath of God unbelief unbelievers unhelpful unity universalism university unjust steward unwoke vestments victim can be in denial victim victory by the Lamb victory video vineyard tenets (Pharisees) vine virgin virology visit pastor - forgiven visitation vocation voice crying in the wilderness voice von Kram vote waiting war water and Spirit water into wine watermarked water we are disciples of Moses weakness weak wealth wedding at Cana wedding feast wedding wept where sin is ther is abuse who sinned? who sinned whoever believes in me shall live why widow will of my Father will win brother over wisdom wise witness woke wolves woman caught in adultery womb women conditioned to be agreeable working works worldview world worried worry worship worthy yahweh you are not part of my flock your father the devil youth ministry youth zealots zechariah zombie