This week I was contacted by a student at Florida A & M University who wanted my thoughts on a few things pertaining to an article she was working on for the campus newspaper. She was writing about the influence (or lack of influence) that religion plays in the lives of college students. I thought it was an interesting discussion. With her permission, I’ve shared her questions and my responses below:
Studies show that religion usually falls by the way side when students get into college. Students are away from their parents and usually don’t choose to practice their faith/beliefs because they want to explore other things of the world.
First off what do you think about this study?
I have heard statistics about this, and they doesn’t surprise me at all. Based on my experiences, both personally and from what I have seen observing others, this is accurate.
Do you believe Religion gets left behind in college?
For many people it does. I think a lot of people never really believed the teachings of their so-called religion in the first place. Then when they get to college away from the supervision of their parents they begin to live out what they have really believed, and what they really wanted to do all along.
However, some people actually become more serious about their beliefs during college. This was my experience when I was a student. I was close to walking away from my Christian faith, but when I began to study it more seriously I became a convinced believer.
Proverbs 4:23 says “above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” As a young person there are many different people trying to take control of your heart, many different ideas about how your life should be lived. Political parties want you to think they hold the solutions and to support them, those marketing different products want to convince you that their products will change your life and need to be purchased. Peers and professors typically want to influence your thinking too. Be aware of the influence that others are having on you and don’t just go with the flow. Think for yourself!
Where do you think college students go wrong with religion?
In my view students make several mistakes with regard to religion:
First of all, many students mistakenly view all religion as virtually the same. The various world religions have similar teaching some subjects, but also contradict one another on topics central to their beliefs. Each “religion” is a different way of looking at the world. Some make more sense of the real world than others. Depending on how accurately (or inaccurately) it helps you to see the world, one’s religion can lead him into wise living or foolish living.
Another common mistake is to walk away from a recognized religion such as Christianity and to not consider themselves “religious” any more. I would contend that every person is religious in some way. Everyone worships something or someone. This is hard-wired into our identity. Such a person has merely changed religions.
Do you think students should make their way to a church every Sunday?
I think being a part of a Christ-centered, Bible teaching church is essential. It can be easy to stay up late on Saturday night with friends and then sleep all day Sunday, but this is unwise. Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” Going to church on Sunday may not be convenient (especially if you are a college student with no car) but making the effort to gather together to worship God is really important.
Do you think there is enough religion or religious activity on campus?
I wouldn’t say necessarily there is a need for “more religion” on campus. As I have said, we are all “religious” by nature. However, I would say there is a need for more of Jesus on campus. There is a need for students and administrators and faculty to see him for who he really is: the one who laid down his life for them: the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the World! (John 1:29)
What is one thing you want to remind students when it comes to religion?
When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Religion should not be about merely doing rituals, but about a loving relationship with God. Then out of that loving and serving others. This is made possible through Jesus Christ. When you know someone loves you and you in turn love them it changes everything. Those things that seemed like a hassle or a chore become acts of worship fueled by sincere love.
Questions: What do you think about religion on campus? Do you agree or disagree with anything I said here?