The Need for Followers of Jesus in the Classroom

Universities are often thought of as a place of enlightenment, deep academic thought and intellectualism, and despite this being true, universities are some of the most secular, cold, and God-shunning habitats on the face of the earth. Being a follower of Jesus as a student comes with its hardships. We are incessantly harassed to conform to conflicting ideologies, and at times it seems like our personal values and convictions are at odds with a society that demands that we think and believe in a way that it alone dictates. 

Although Christianity is not openly persecuted and ridiculed in the classrooms of universities and schools, the deep-seated scorn and contempt held for our world view is a subtle yet ever-tangible reminder that our Holy God has no place amongst the idols of ambition and pleasure that our peers continue to bow and serve.

Nonetheless, sitting in lecture theatres and libraries of university campuses all over the world are the world leaders, decision-makers, and breakthrough finders of the future. The late Dr Ivan Fitzwater, former Professor at Trinity University, described the gravity of this by saying “The future of the world is in my classroom today”. Therefore, if we want to have any chance in interrupting the moral downward spiral that is widespread across society, and instead change the trajectory towards the never-changing God, the most influential address in any city will be that of the university campus. University students are at a point in their life when they are the most mouldable. We are zealous, passionate and highly opinionated, but at the same time our time at university will grow and shape us into the people we will become. Therefore, every Christian student has the opportunity to have a profound impact on their classmates. 

How to make a difference in your classroom

The first thing I would like to say on this note is that one must take into account the circumstances and context of their situation and most importantly ask God for guidance before being an influential believer in a secular environment. 

When I first began my university journey I became friends with a group of non-christians (which is totally fine btw), and I remember in my first year the many occasions I had spent trying to share with them the gospel. I explained the salvation message and about how much love Christ has for the world - but in the end, I had nothing to show for it. However, over the next few months, I tried to show them Christ in my actions. I would not join in and laugh with them about crude jokes, I was open about my church commitments and I genuinely showed love and went the extra mile to show them I cared. Towards the end of the year, one of them asked me about my opinion on whether he and his girlfriend should go further physically, as this was his first time in a relationship. I do not clearly remember my response, but the answer is not what I want to draw your attention to. What strikes me is that, at a pivotal point in my friend's life, he chose to ask me, the “christian guy” about whether he should have physical boundaries in his relationship. As a result, I was given an opportunity to share God’s perspective on marriage, relationships and love (a perspective that is fading in our generation). This experience taught me the first rule on how to share the gospel with non-believing classmates and that is to be an example of Jesus. A well known saying often attributed to St Francis of Assisi says “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words” - and I believe that this has become a motto I try to live by in my interactions with non-believers. Yes, we all make mistakes and we will never be perfect, however, the mere openness in our faith and the effort we make, alongside the influence of the Holy Spirit, will not go unnoticed. 
Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words

With this in mind, I dare to say that the most effective way to spread the gospel to classmates is through the Christlike love and authenticity magnified by the working of the Holy Spirit. Apologetics or fancy arguments alone are not enough to show someone Jesus. The only reason I continue to learn and grow in apologetics is to ready myself for the next time a friend or classmate asks me for what I think about something.

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