Why University Changes our Young People (Part 1)
Many consider the years between college, university and work as being the years when young people "find themselves". You can therefore understand why many "lose themselves" at this crucial time. Many of our young people go from a mostly supervised, mostly godly, mostly "under the shadow of a parent" type of environment to one that is the complete opposite. What they face is a challenge on a scale that is incomparable to anything they've experience before. You have to draw on resources at a level and regularity that is unprecedented to avoid falling into some kind of sin.
Whilst we enter these environments with a sense of our godly identity and intent, for many raised in the church or saved as child, much of who we are has been moulded in the absence of such strong variations of opinions, values and opportunity to experiment. Many of us were unprepared for the intellectual challenge to the faith. If we are evangelist in nature, by the spirit of grace we can adapt to the intellectual challenge and learn how to witness in the face of philosophy. But as I alluded to earlier, philosophy does not deal the killer blow.
Face-to-face with all that is in the world
John stated that all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life 1 John 2:16. I'm convinced that all our challenges are bound up in any one or a combination of these. As young people turn into young men and young women there are three things that are being formed:
A sense of personal taste for things in life
A sense of personal style or fashion
A sense of the quality of life that one would like to lead.
You cannot avoid these three things. They are defining features that distinguish us, not only from but as being a part of the society in which we live. They also represent the arenas where these three lusts/desires come into effect.
A sense of personal taste for things in life – [arena for the lusts of the flesh]
Do you drink coffee? Do you hang out in the library? What sort of music do you like? What kind of woman do you think would be compatible? Do you think that guy is good looking? What sort of body do you find attractive and why? What do you like to eat? How long do you spend at the gym and why? I could list a hundred more questions. Essentially, the answers to these questions determine the type of person you are likely to attract and determine the type of people that will become your friends. Simple though they seem, some of the answers to these questions should not be shared with ungodly people.
I can handle it!
Ok, so I'm going into university like Jesus, thinking I can hang with anyone and be a strong influence in their lives for good. Well guess what – you weren't sent from heaven to give your life anyone, and you're not about to walk on water. Most young people are defeated by over confidence in themselves. They therefore allow themselves to get into situations which would be risky for anyone else but not for them because they're just "wrapped up, tied up and tangled up Jesus". Paul advised Timothy to run from certain lusts [the youthful kind] 2 Timothy 2:22. Instead, the over confident young person puts themselves in situations from which they should run. Christ also counselled us to watch and pray unless we fall into temptation (Mark 14:38) (you need a personal revelation of what that means in practice).
Let me break it down with some examples:
Going into the bedroom of opposite sex on campus (don't be such a wimp, everyone does it)
Going to the Freshers dance, night club or rave (you don't have to drink alcohol BTW)
Studying, by choice, with someone you know that you're attracted to (just studying, just sayin').
You need a non-compromising mindset!
Read the book of Daniel before going into university and you won't make excuses for why you can do things that will cause "no harm". Do you think the kings' meat would have killed Daniel (Daniel 1:8)? Paul put it this way, all things are lawful but not all expedient, and that he would not be brought UNDER the power of any ["lawful thing"] (1 Corinthians 6:12). The Lord was 30 years old before he even started his ministry, furthermore he had completed the 40 day prophetic fast. We go into university at 18 comparing ourselves to Jesus when we want to make excuses for being with winebibbers- but in reality we haven't come close to doing what Christ did to be as much in the world as he was without becoming a part of it. Don't fool yourself, you on your own without a disciplined walk with God, are no match for Satan.
Remedy: know yourself and know your God.
Knowing yourself is not as easy as it sounds because you only really discover who you are in the face of unprecedented challenges. You only know how much faith you have when you need to use it. You only know if you have power to say no when you are made an offer. You'll know how strong you are when the offer is made again and again.
So when I say know yourself check the list of questions above multiply them creatively – know what you like, be in touch with it so you can protect yourself from it. Some people like to pretend that they have no preference in their mind for someone who is tall, muscular or curvaceous – liar! You've thought about it, and the devil knows it too. He won't tempt you with the antithesis of all your desires, Satan's job is to present, on a plate, everything you dream about so he can kill you with it (ref Christ temptation Matthew 4).
The thing is we watch movies, surf the net, read books, magazines, and have been to school. Our ideas about life have been shaped not only through reading the Bible! We have our "favourites" in Hollywood, in sports, or from the world of celebrity. Whether we should have these favourites is another matter, for the time being acknowledge what they are and flee from any opportunities that they might have to kill you.
Know your God: it is important to remember that the Lord can purge us of desires that are no good for us – through prayer and fasting. It is also important to know that the Lord understands that we will have feelings of wanting to belong, to be appreciated, to be loved. My policy was always to be open with the Lord about exactly what was going on in my mind and body. On the other hand, it is important for us to know that fleshly preferences are dangerous to harbour. It is a "lust of the flesh and eyes"; it is therefore indiscriminate (in terms of how these desires are met). What I mean is a voluptuous body, for example, as a lust is problem, first because you are likely to sin in your spirit long before you commit a sin against your body. (You know this when you know your God, because He will pull you up on the sins of your mind and spirit when your life is brought before him daily in prayer.) Second: your best opportunity to secure a voluptuous body will be presented far sooner than you are ready to be married – and this is where the conflict begins.
Ok, so it might not be the body you're after. You might just want to be noticed. For someone to talk to you, respect you as person, appreciate you for who are. You might find yourself in deep, meaningful and clean conversation with someone for whom you had no desire. Yet connecting with someone on such a level and your need for it becomes a snare to your spirit- and all of a sudden you realise that you don't want to be without this person.
It is best...
Not to dwell on situations that you can't change (at 18 you're not about to get married – find a hobby, or better get spiritual project to work on with the Lord- perhaps trying to walk on water...;)
Not to dwell on thoughts that you're not allowed to action: don't listen to worldly music or watch movies about falling in love, unrequited love, physical attraction, longing etc... (it'll just wind you up)
Not to hang around people that are attracted to you physically (and vice versa) (might take a while to work this out, but you will): that would be like shaking a bottle of fizzy drink- even if you never open the bottle for the explosion – you can't pray or worship with all that fizz.
Not to seek companionship with the world: James said this makes you an enemy of God (James 4:4), and I believe it. The old song writer said, make friends of God's children.
To parents: The reality is that no matter how smart or spiritual our kids are when the leave out for university, you've just sent your child into a spiritual Afghanistan – it's a war zone. Some don't make it out alive, some come back wounded, some lose limbs, but nobody comes back the same.