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.

Related Posts

Recent

Archive

 2020
 June
Reflections: June 2, 2020Under the Cross: Living in the Light of ChristReflections: June 3, 2020This Just In: Countering Chaos with ChristReflections: June 4, 2020Dean's List: Jesus Ain't Done YetVideo Short: The Athanasian CreedLive Bible Study: June 4, 2020Reflections: June 5, 2020Debunked!: The Unreachable CarrotLive Bible Study: June 5, 2020Live Bible Study: June 6, 2020Reflections: June 6, 2020Reflections: June 7, 2020Reflections: June 8, 2020Video Short: June 8, 2020Foundations: You Are What Jesus Says You AreHymnal 101: June 9, 2020Live Bible Study: June 9, 2020Reflections: June 9, 2020Under the Cross: Baptized, Not GayVideo Short: June 9, 2020Reflections: June 10, 2020Foundations: Preface and Proper PrefaceVideo Short: June 10, 2020Reflections: June 11, 2020Speaking of Faith: How to Defend Infant Baptism and Have Fun Doing ItVideo Short: June 11, 2020Live Bible Study: June 11, 2020Reflections: June 12, 2020Video Short: June 12, 2020Foundations: No You-Gotta with JesusLive Bible Study: June 12, 2020Reflections: June 13, 2020Reflections: June 14, 2020Reflections: June 15, 2020Video Short: June 15, 2020This Just In: The Real EnlightenmentLive Bible Study: June 15, 2020Live Bible Study: June 16, 2020Reflections: June 16, 2020Helpful Things: Spilling the Tea on Generation ZVideo Short: June 16, 2020Video Short: June 17, 2020Reflections: June 17, 2020Live Bible Study: June 17, 2020Foundations: Your Father's LoveReflections: June 18, 2020Video Short: June 18, 2020Live Bible Study: June 18, 2020Dean's List: You're Covered on Judgment DayReflections: June 19, 2020Video Short: June 19, 2020Debunked: I Don't Think This Verse Means What You Think It MeansLive Bible Study: June 19, 2020Live Bible Study: June 20, 2020Reflections: June 20, 2020Reflections: June 21, 2020Reflections: June 22, 2020Video Short: June 22, 2020Under the Cross: Hope in Suffering, Not Apart from ItLive Bible Study: June 22, 2020Foundations: Better Than BulletproofReflections: June 23, 2020Video Short: June 23, 2020Speaking of Faith: Tell What Jesus DidVideo Short: June 24, 2020Reflections: June 24, 2020Live Bible Study: June 24, 2020Reflections: June 25, 2020Musica Sacra: College Hymn FailVideo Short: June 25, 2020Live Bible Study: June 25, 2020Reflections: June 26, 2020Digging Deeper: By Design: Creation and RedemptionVideo Short: June 26, 2020Reflections: June 27, 2020Live Bible Study: June 26, 2020Reflections: June 28, 2020Live Bible Study: June 29, 2020Reflections: June 29, 2020Video Short: June 29, 2020Under the Cross: The First Time I DiedVideo Short: June 30, 2020Foundations: Can, Cannot, and VocationHymnal 101: Church SeasonsReflections: June 30, 2020
 July
Reflections: July 1, 2020Digging Deeper: Mixing It Up with Religion and PoliticsLive Bible Study: June 30, 2020Video Short: June 30, 2020Live Bible Study: July 1, 2020Live Bible Study: July 2, 2020Dean's List: Your Permanent RecordReflections: July 2, 2020Video Short: July 2, 2020Debunked: Enough Isn't EnoughReflections: July 3, 2020Reflections: July 4, 2020Reflections: July 5, 2020Reflections: July 6, 2020Video Short: July 6, 2020Under the Cross: Beautiful, Heartbreaking WorldVideo Short: July 7, 2020Live Bible Study: July 6, 2020Flex: Christ's Cancel CultureReflections: July 7, 2020Speaking of Faith: Third Article EvangelismReflections: July 8, 2020Live Bible Study: July 7, 2020Video Short: July 8, 2020Live Bible Study: July 8, 2020Video Short: July 9, 2020Under the Cross: The Sophia Worthy of ReceptionReflections: July 9, 2020Live Bible Study: July 9, 2020Helpful Things: Get Your Youth Talking!Reflections: July 10, 2020Video Short: July 10, 2020Reflections: July 11, 2020Live Bible Study: July 10, 2020Reflections: July 12, 2020Reflections: July 13, 2020Video Short: July 13, 2020Digging Deeper: Approaching Feminism with the Mind of ChristLive Bible Study: July 13, 2020Musica Sacra: Hymns Are for ProclamationReflections: July 14, 2020Video Short: July14,2020Video Short: July 15, 2020Live Bible Study: July 14, 2020Foundations: Stand by MeReflection: July 15, 2020Live Bible Study: July 15, 2020Dean's List: Your Vote Is a Gift for your NeighborReflections: July 16, 2020Video Short: July 16, 2020Live Bible Study: July 16, 2020Debunked: The Truth about Jeremiah 29:11Reflection: July 17, 2020Video Short: July 17, 2020Reflections: July 18, 2020Reflections: July 19, 2020Video Short: July 20, 2020Reflections: July 20, 2020Foundations: The Life You Now LiveReflections: July 21, 2020Video Short: July 21, 2020Foundations: Heaven on Earth TogetherLIVE BIBLE STUDY: July 21, 2020Speaking of Faith: The Curious Case of AgnosticismLive Bible Study: July 22, 2020Reflections: July 22, 2020Live Bible Study: July 20, 2020Video Short: July 22, 2020Video Short: July 23, 2020Reflections: July 23, 2020Under the Cross: Pushing Back with CompassionLive Bible Study: July 23, 2020Video Short: July 24, 2020Digging Deeper: SpiriligiosityReflections: July 24, 2020Live Bible Study: July 24, 2020Reflections: July 25, 2020Live Bible Study: July 25, 2020Reflections: July 26, 2020Live Bible Study: July 27, 2020Flex: Lutherans on FacebookReflections: July 27, 2020Video Short: July 27, 2020Video Short: July 28, 2020Foundations: CrucifloodLive Bible Study: July 28, 2020Reflections: July 28, 2020Video Short: July 29, 2020Speaking of Faith: Campus ChristianReflections: July 29, 2020Live Bible Study: July 29, 2020Dean's List: Baptized, Ready to DieLive Bible Study: July 30, 2020Reflections: July 30, 2020Video Short: July 30, 2020Video Short: July 31, 2020Debunked: The End Times--Still All About JesusReflections: July 31, 2020

Categories

Tags

1 John 4 1 Peter 3 1 Peter 5 1 cointhians 1 1 corinthians 10 1 corinthians 1 1 corinthians 3 1 corinthians 4 1 corinthians 5 1 corinthians 6 1 corinthians 7 1 corinthians 8 1 corinthians 9 1 john 1 1 kings 19 1 pete 3 1 samuel 10 1 samuel 12 1 samuel 13 1 samuel 14 1 samuel 15 1 samuel 16 1 samuel 17-18 1 samuel 17 1 samuel 18 1 samuel 19 1 samuel 1 1 samuel 20 1 samuel 23 1 samuel 24 1 samuel 25 1 samuel 26 1 samuel 28 1 samuel 2 1 samuel 31 1 samuel 3 1 samuel 4 1 samuel 5 1 samuel 6 1 samuel 8 1 samuel 9 1530 1corinthians 1 1corinthians15 1corinthians1 1john 2 1john 3 2 Nations 2 corinthians 5 2 samuel 1 2 samuel 20 2 samuel 21 2 samuel 22 2 samuel 5 2 samuel 6 2020 2peter 1 9/11 ;unishment Abimelech Abraham Absolution Acts 10 Acts 11 Acts 12 Acts 13 Acts15 Adam Air Force Angelou Apostles' Creed Areopagus Asher Athens Augsburg Augustine Ben E King Benedictus Bethel Bethlehem Bethuel Bible study Bilhah Blesses Jacob Boaz Boggess Book of Life Book of Prayer Broadway Buddha CDC COVID CTCR Called Out Culture Canaan Castillero Catholic Charles V Christ crucified Church Communion Compline Concordia Corinthians Corona Corrow Curry DNA Daniel Dan Daughters of Canaanites David Dinah Divergent Divine Service Drosendahl Eden Ehrhard Eighth Commandment El Capitan Emmanuel Enlightenment Ephesians 2 Esau maries Ishmaelite Esau marries Hittites Esau Eucharist Eve Exodus 3 Ezekiel Facebook Father Fenker Fifth Commandment First Article Fisk Flood From Above Gad Galatians 2 Gen Z Generation Z Genesis 12 Genesis 13 Genesis 14 Genesis 16 Genesis 17 Genesis 19 Genesis 1 Genesis 20 Genesis 21:10-21 Genesis 21 Genesis 22 Genesis 24-25 Genesis 24 Genesis 25 Genesis 50 Genesis 5 Genesis 6 Genesis 7 Genesis 8 Genesis George Floyd God increased apotted and striped flocks God's Word God's promise Good Friday Good News Goodman Grace Greek Grim Reaper Hale Han Solo Hill Holy Baptism Hosanna Hunger Games I am IGen Immanuel Instagram Isaac lies about Rebekah Isaac Isaiah 64 Isaiah Issachar Issues Etc Jacob flees Easu Jacob marries Leah Jacob marries Jacob returned to Canaan Jacob sent to Laban Jacobs ladder Jacoby Jacob Jairus Jeremiah Joanna Joel 2 John 15 John 17 John 18 John 1 Johnson John Joseph Joshua 10 Joshua 23 Joshua 24 Joshua 4 Joshua 6 Joshua 7 Joshua 8 Joshua Judah Judges 2 Judges 3 Judgment Day Kahoot Keith Kopitske Kosche Kruschel LCMS-U LGBTQ LSB Laban cheated Jacob Laban Last Day Lazarus Leah Levi Lord appears to Abraham Lord's Supper Luke 15 Luke 16 Luke 1 Luke 6 Luke 9 Luther Lydia Magnificat Mandelbrot Mark 13 Mark 5 Mark 9 Martha Martin Luther Mary Mass Matthew 15 Matthew 16 Matthew 4 Matthew 7 Matthew McCrorey Memorial Day Micah 7 Michelangelo Minneapolis Mize Monty Python Morales Muhammad Nain Naphtali Nicene Creed Nicodemus Nones Nunes Old Testament Onesiumus Ostapowich Paradise Passover Patmos Pauls Pelikan Pew Research Pharisees Phil 4 Philemon 17 Philemon 18 Philippians 2 Philistines Pierson Plano Polycarp Preface Preus Proverbs 14 Proverbs 15 Proverbs 16 Proverbs 17 Proverbs 20 Proverbs 22 Psalm 119 Psalm 123 Psalm 18 Psalm 22 Psalm 23 Psalm 27 Rachel steals fathers gods Rachel Rebekah Reuben Revelation Romans 1 Romans 3 Romans 5 Romans 6 Romans 8 Rosebrough Rouser Ruth 2 Ruth Sabaoth Sacraments Salome Salomi Sanchez Sanctus Sarah laughed Sarah Sayers Siddhartha Simeon Sletten Snapchat Social shaming Sodom Son St Paul St. Paul St.Peter Star Wars Sticks before watering trough Supper Taylor Swift Ten Commandments Test Texas Third Article Tribulation Trickery Turkey Twitter Uzziah Vieker Well of Shibah Woelmer Word Zachariah Zebulun Zilpah abide abortion absolve academic 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 all christians who have been baptized almighty altar guild altar angels animal answer anti-christian antinomians antioch antiphonal anxiety apologetic apostles apostle archaeology archangels arius ark assurance athanasian atheism atheist audience augustana authority babies babylon baby banquet baptism baptized barnabas beliefs best constuction betray bible bigots birthright blessing blind blood blues body bonhoeffer borghardt borg borhgardt bread bride of Christ bride brothers brown buetow burial calendar cancel culture cancel candle casket catechism catechize change chant children choir christianity christ clerical cling codependency coin college colors colossians 1 colossians 2 colossians 3 colossians 4 comfort of forgiveness comfort compassion conferences confessions confession confess confidence confirmation conversion coronavirus corporate council covenant creation creed cross crucified crucifix cruciflood culture current events cwirla daily bread dan brown danger darkness dash dead dean death debtors defense defensiveness deistic deliverer demons depression deserve destroy deuteronomy 18 disagreement disaster disciples dishonesty dispensational disruption diversity divorce doctrine donkey door doubt doxology dream dystopian earthquake easter ecclesiastes 1 ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embarrassment emotions endure enemy engineering enlightened ephesians 4 ephesians 5 epistle equilibrium estates eternal life evangelism evil evolution excuses exhortation exile exodus 20 experience extra nos ezekiel 1 failure faithful faith fall false teachers false teaching family famine fate fear feast feeling wheel feelings feminism fire font foolishness foolish for you foreigners foretaste forgiveness of sins forgiveness forgiven forgive fortress fractal freedom from sin freedom freshman fringes fulfillment funeral fun future galatians 1 galatians 3 galatians 4 galatians 5 galatians 6 gay gender generations generosity genesis 15 genesis 2 genesis 3 genesis 4 genesis11 genetic gerhardt gifts gift girlfriend gloom gnosticism golf good fruit good work good gospels gospel government grandma gratitude greatness groom guard haiti happiness harmony healingl heinz heirs hell heresy hidden bias high school historic history holy spirit holy trinity holy homework homosexuality honor hope hostility humility hurt hymnal hymnody hymn hypocrites i never knew you i samuel 15 iPad iPhone identity idolatry image-bearer imitate imposters imputed incurvatus inheritance intentional forgiveness internet interpretation invitation irreducible complexity isaiah 6 isolation israel ivory tower jeremiah 23 jerusalem 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 judgemental judgement judges 13 judges 14 judges 15 judges 16 judges 4 judges 6 judges 7 judging judgment seat justification justin martyr karma katrina keep keseman keys kind kingdom kohlmeier kuhlman lange large catechism laugh law lectionary legacy lemon lentil stew lex credendi lex orendi liberation life-changing light lion liturgical liturgy live lord's prayer lord\'s prayer lord\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s prayer lords prayer lords supper lost love your neighbor love lowly luke 11 luke 14 luke 18 luke 19 luke 21 luke 22 luke 23 luke 24 luke23 luke24 luke5 lust lutheran madden magruder manifestation marginalized populations mark 10 mark 16 mark 6 mark 8 martyrdom martyr mary magdalene masks matthew 28 matthew 5 matthew28 matthew3 means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium missionaries missionary modernism money moses mountaintop movement multiply offsprings murder musician mythology myths name nations nation natural disaster natures nature negative neighbor new life new man news nicea noah non-masked numbers 21 numbers 22 numbers 23 numbers 24 numbers 35 numbers27 numbers32 obedience obey old Adam omans 3 omans 6 onesimus opposition orders ordinary ordination organ overcome pandemic panmillennialist papacy papyrus paraments passive pastoral care pastors pastor patriarch paul peers pentecost people perfection persecution persons person peter philemon 8-9 philemon philippians 4 philosophy politics poor pope positive post-Christian postmodern poverty power practices praise prayer pray pregnancy pregnant presence pride procrastination prodigal son prodigal professor promised land promises promise prophecy prophets prophet proverbs 10 proverbs 13 proverbs 24 proverbs 25 proverbs 27 proverbs 31 proverbs 3 proverbs 5 proverbs 8 proverbs 9 proverbs22 provision psalm 13 psalm 20 psalm 25 psalm 28 psalm 2 psalm 48 psalm 51 psalm 54 psalm8 psychologists public punishment punish purity questions quid pro quo racial racism rags ransom rapture receiving reconciliation record reformation refuge rejoice relationship relativism religion repent rescue response resurrection rich man richard rich righteousness riots risen rock romans 11 romans6 routine rubbish rubies ruth 1 sacrament sacrifice sadness saint salt salvation sanctification satanic saul school science scientist scripture seasons sea self-esteem senior seraphim sermon servant service sexual immorality sexual orientation sexual shaltanis shatlanis sheep shepherd shield shrewd sight singleness sing sinners sinner sins sin slave to sin slavery slaves small catechism snowflake social distancing social media sola sophia sorry soul speaker sphere spiritualists star steward strength stress strong student loan substance suffering suicide supernatural surreal task-oriented teach technology temple temptation tertullian tetelestai texts the Promise theology thomas time titus 3 titus3 toil tomb tongues tragedy trap trials trinity triune trust in God trustworthy trust truth tweets type A unbelief unbelievers unity university unjust steward unwoke vestments victory video vine virgin virology visitation vocation voice vote waiting watermarked water weakness weak wealth wedding wept why will wisdom wise witness woke womb working worldview worship yahweh youth ministry youth zealots zechariah