Before we get into the article, I want to share that an article I wrote was published on The Rebelution yesterday! It’s called The Importance of How We Spend Our Free Time, and you can read it here.
You might remember the post Interview With a Public-Schooled Christian: Claire Brandenburg from a couple of weeks ago. Well now, Claire is back with more wonderful advice for us. Enjoy!
We all know that going to school comes with challenges. Those challenges are even bigger for those of us who are called to be set apart from the world. Human beings were designed to desire community and connection, and when the people around us at school act in a way that we don’t agree with, fitting in can seem like a huge problem.
Putting ourselves out there as ‘the Christian’ can seem petrifying, but we need to ask ourselves, “What is the reason I am scared to be different?” In Luke 9:26, Jesus says, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Most of the reason we’re scared of being different is that we worry about what others will think of us. Think about it: why are so many people scared of public speaking? It’s not because something horrible is going to happen to them if they mess up—when most people speak in front of a crowd, how they perform is not going to make or break them. We fear public speaking because we fear what others will think of us. Humans fear others’ opinions and make things seem more intimidating than they actually are.
What bad thing will happen if we start a conversation about Jesus? People are not going to storm out of the room. Maybe they will have an encouraging response and want to discuss Christianity or maybe they will try to change the subject, but the worst that usually happens is a couple of seconds of awkwardness. Talking to people about Jesus will not be as bad as our minds make it out to be.
My advice for fitting in is to not fit in. We will never feel completely like we belong in any other setting than the body of Christ. Find other Christians in your school and hang out with them or start a Christian club. Don’t disregard unbelievers in the school, because they too need Jesus in their lives and we can make good friendships with these people. However, we shouldn’t expect them to become our very best friends. That title is left to our friends who are seeking God.
Also, when we share the gospel, we shouldn’t expect to see a quick change in our lost friends. Our job is to point people to Christ, which can take years of being someone’s friend and building a relationship with them. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to transform people, but we need to be faithful in showing them what Jesus is like.
We shouldn’t be surprised that our lost friends act in foolish ways. Lost people do lost things, and we need to understand that. Unbelievers don’t understand life’s meaning or their purpose. Their model of what is right and wrong is different than ours. And if their definition of right and wrong is based on cultural standards, those standards will change with culture. The song Me Without You by Toby Mac perfectly illustrates how different life is without Christ:
“I’d be packin’ my bags when I need to stay,
I’d be chasin’ every breeze that blows my way,
I’d be building my kingdom just to watch it fade away.”
Where the unbelievers in our school are is exactly where we would be if not for Jesus. But we represent Jesus and show Jesus to them through our actions, words, and lifestyles. This fact can be overwhelming, but we have something that the world doesn’t have: a loving God who will help us follow Him every step of the way. I will be praying that the people around you see such a difference in how you act compared to what they are used to that they can’t help but be drawn to Jesus’ light in you.
My go-to verse for being a Christian in a public school is John 13:34, which says, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
If this verse seems too vague, look up the definition of love. But don’t look up the world’s shallow definition on the internet. Look it up in your Bible, where we have been shown what true, unchanging, unconditional love looks like.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
My sibling in Christ, know that our Father has everything under control. 🙂
Thank you, Claire, for writing this and sharing your wisdom with us!
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