Learn how to recognize what God wants you to see
Higher learning offers many benefits, but what do you need to do before you head off to college or university?
Read your life through a Christian lens
On my university campus there was an art piece near my bus stop. It was over 20 years ago, but I still remember staring at the inscription: “Water is unknown to a fish until it discovers air.” Are humans as unaware of their own environment until they leave it?
When I was very young, I grew an awareness of my surroundings, and I have my mom to thank for that. Her advice to me was: “Learn how to read your life.”
So, in addition to reading books, I began to read people, read experiences, read various situations in the world around me. That’s why I appreciated my environment as a member of the Church Of Christ. As a Choir member, each hymn reinforced my faith. And I could see things clearly with every worship service. God’s words preached to us were my glasses that helped me make the right decisions. Because Mom also told me: “You need to understand whether something will bring you closer to God, or take you further away.”
For young Christians, if reading books is important, reading God’s work in our lives has even greater value. When you look at the world, when you dream, when you make plans for the future, are you seeing it through a Christian lens? How clear are you on the true teachings from the Bible that have been taught to us in the Church Of Christ?
What do you see?
Right after graduation, I became an English teacher, spending a lot of time with students viewing literature from various lenses.
We ask questions from different critical perspectives – historical, psychological, archetypal, formalist, feminist, post-colonial, reader response, and others. Each lens affects what we see in the text we’re reading. The idea is that we’re supposed to appreciate seeing things from different viewpoints.
As a student, you’re probably working very hard. You’re trying to get the highest grades and trying to sharpen your critical thinking skills. You’re preparing to read all kinds of new books and learn many new perspectives, which is great. But have you been reading your own life through a Christian lens?
What does God want you to see?
You might be wondering, what does it mean to read your own life through a Christian lens? Well, have you ever thought, in all the decisions that are in front of you right now, what does God want you to see?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for and navigate college or university:
What is the purpose of my study?
- Am I studying to prepare for a specific job or career?
- Where will I work and what will my schedule look like? Is there anything about the job that will ruin my relationship with God?
- Where do I see myself in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Am I going down a road that will require me to spend less time serving God?
- Where will this job or career lead me?
- What kind of environment or culture will I need to enter for this job?
- What is the “end game” of my work? Will any of my work in this field contradict the teachings I believe in as a member of the Church Of Christ?
- Am I studying to prepare for a specific job or career?
How can I be a good Christian academic?
How can I manage university or college life so that Christ continues to live in me? What can I do to make sure my Christian lens is always clear?
- Do I think in prayer? – If I’m striving to be a critical thinker, have I thought critically about my relationship with God? Do I take time to meditate and pray, especially during the worship service? Have I been sharing all of my problems and thoughts with God?
- Do I treasure the truth? – How well versed am I in the fundamental teachings of the Church Of Christ? Do I take notes or listen well when God’s words are preached in the worship service? Do I attend Bible studies regularly? Do I ask my minister for help when it comes to having a deeper understanding of our doctrines?
- Am I drawing closer to God? – How have I been spending my time? Have I reflected on how my worship and Church duties bring me closer to God? Can I continue to be as close to God while I am away at school?
- Am I developing healthy relationships? – How well do my family and friends understand me? Have we had faith conversations? Have they helped me read my life as a Christian? Do they help me make decisions that bring me closer to God?
Be a light to the “enlightened”
As a Christian, you can find yourself surrounded by intellectuals, academics, and scholars. But as a Christian, you are a light. Can they see it? How can you help people understand what you see?
Tools to navigate challenging topics
Today, in addition to what is taught in the worship service, you can access tools provided by INC Media. How can you begin faith conversations with your peers and professors? How can you prepare to answer questions on the following topics?
- Beliefs – “What are your beliefs as a member of the Church Of Christ?
- Review and share content on our fundamental beliefs in the Church Of Christ
- Invite them to Get To Know Us: “Take a moment to learn more about the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church Of Christ. Its teachings, based solely on the Bible, inspire people from all walks of life to seek a true relationship with God.”
- Critical Thinking –“If you’re really a critical thinker, how could you possibly believe in God and the Bible or in organized religion?”
- Take time to review content on these specific topics – God and Jesus and The Bible
- Share your favorite videos and podcasts that capture why you’re sure God is Real
- Read this blog and share it with someone who has been researching “God” online
- Invite them to study with us so that they can exercise critical thinking as they listen to a Bible study in the Church Of Christ
- Holidays – “These holidays are just for fun, why won’t you celebrate them?”
- Activism – “We’re uniting to take action against oppression and hatred – why won’t you join our protest?”
- Science – “The Bible does not reflect what we know through modern science – you’re not going to accept modern science just because it goes against your religious beliefs?”
- Lifestyle & Mental Health – “In order to heal, maybe you need to take a break from your religion?”
Live your best life
A higher education could definitely lead to you to achieve a higher quality of life – for yourself and for others. But can it offer you a better life than the one God has promised? It’s your Christian lens that allows you to find a true sense of purpose. That’s why it’s nice to find young Christians sharing their favorite Verse Of The Week videos, which provide good advice.
You can also find important reminders via Bible Verses on Instagram:
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking…” (Romans 12:2 MSG)
“Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions” (Proverbs 4:25 MSG)
Thank you, Mom, for helping me be a good Christian academic. Reading books is important, but it’s even more important to read God’s work in my life. Although my university education asked me to try on many different lenses, none allowed me to see the truth or to see how to live my best life as a member of the Church Of Christ. I always want to see what God wants me to see.