But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Dan 1:8)
Problems which today’s youths are facing are very different from the problems that were pressing down the youth of the past, the same consequences but in varying degrees. Obviously, it’s so real that the challenges are clear pointers to the end times.
We will like to take a good look at the academic challenges of the Youth in this present age. Despite how ambitious and skilled a youth may be, the academic perspective is so intriguing that many well-grounded Christian Youth find it hard to resist the temptations pulling at them in their career pursuit especially within the ivory towers.
Let’s take a look at some of these challenges:
- New Philosophy (Col 2:8): The academic environment will seek to exchange your Christian beliefs with its own. Some of these philosophies are “Live your life to the maximum; God will understand you are human; everyone is doing it; heaven helps only those who help themselves”. Many of them look morally right and so easy to religiously settle for.
- Peer Pressure, Mass media, entertainment (1Cor 15:33): This hi-tech info era is filled with alluring offers that calls the attention of today’s youth. The urge to be like others, the internet upsurge etc. All these are potent enough to distract and blur the view of any ‘easy’ Christian youth on his Christian journey.
- Examination Malpractice (Pressure to succeed): It may not seem real, but many Christian youths have a struggle with cutting corners to success. The pursuit of success and fear of failure is real among youth, hence the temptation to follow the multitudes to do whatever it takes to succeed becomes so cheap to resist.
- Sexual Immorality: The daunting academic environment will present challenges to young Christians wanting to remain morally and sexually pure. Perhaps the greatest challenge to your character and faith will come in this area. In such academic setting, it seems unrighteous to be righteous. It takes more than discipline to stay pure as a youth.
- Loss of Christian Identity (Who am I): No matter the spiritual depth of a youth, there will come a point where his/faith will come under fire, and the academic environment offers such ground. In the bid of keeping it cool among fellow colleagues, no youth will want to be seen as “S.U”, so gradually he stops carrying the bible publicly, prayer becomes a one-off activity, and the faith gradually declines.
- Competitiveness in education: the uneven playing field: Excellence by whom? Not Me: With the high academic demand, it becomes easier to put off your Christian devotion. The time to study the bible is postponed until the tough physics is understood. A teenager once lamented to me “The marking guide of Christianity is too harsh. If you fail to keep just one commandment, you are as guilty as failing ten”. The pain is that real!
A source of help:
As real as these challenges are, there is a place of Strength and Grace (Heb. 2:18). One of the big keys to holding on to your Christian faith during the college years is the Church. No one succeeds in the Christian journey in isolation (Heb. 10:25). In fact, during this time when your faith is being assaulted, you really need more time with like-minded Christians than you did before. Its benefits, such as spiritual affinity and adding to your Christian knowledge offer tremendous encouragement.
Above all, never stop assessing your spiritual growth through the lenses of the scripture (1 Cor. 10:12; James 1:23). Aside this, never forget that it takes personal responsibility and complete reliance in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 15:10) to retain one’s Christian testimony through the youthful age. On your journey to end well and strong, hold on to this advice “Nothing should be too small or too big to pray about”. Regardless of how bad you may feel about your failings and inadequacies, never be too shy to talk to your ever-present help about it. He shares our weaknesses and offers help along the way (Heb. 4:15, 1 Cor. 10:13).
Take the time for prayer, for study of the Scriptures and for true Christian fellowship to help you through. Build the bonds in Christ, and survive the youthful years — with your Christian faith not just intact, but strengthened as the years roll by!
May your TESTIMONY stand the test of pressure and fire!