Yes, but be gracious about it
Justin Jenkins, lead pastor, Velocity Church, meets at Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.:
It’s OK to bring up God in conversations, but it’s better to be concerned with “how” you do it, not “if” you do it. Nobody likes an arrogant person, no matter what point is being argued. Sometimes well-meaning believers in their zeal to share their faith present God in a way that leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth. Does this mean we shouldn’t share our faith? Absolutely not, but we need to make sure our words express God’s grace.
For example, most of my friends in school were not Christians. I learned through those friendships that a lot of what kept them from coming to Christ was the way that Christ had been portrayed to them. Their impression of God was that He was all about rules and limitations. Now I’m not putting people down who might have given them that impression, but it’s wrong when we try to take the boundaries that we feel God has given us and then enforce them on people that aren’t even yet Christians.
Yet, on the flip side of that when my friends saw how God loved me through a weakness, the love of Christ started to compel them toward a relationship with Him.
So here is what I think is the best verse in the Bible if you want to know how to present God to friends who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ:
Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. (Colossians 4:6)
If we do this, God will use our lives, conduct and speech to demonstrate His goodness.
— Send email to Justin Jenkins at email@example.com.
Yes, we should learn and share
Rev. Dr. Ira DeSpain, university minister, Baker University, Baldwin City:
Yes, it is. A discussion of religion and faith issues is always appropriate. It’s important for each of us to make spiritual connections with others of the same religious backgrounds. Religious conversations can be difficult and awkward. That doesn’t mean we could avoid them. It’s not necessary to speak only from our comfort zone. If the person to whom you are talking tells you they do not wish to discuss religion, stop. It’s a matter of respect.
In my college fraternity, Christian religion and prayer are a part of the fabric of the national fraternity. I assume other greek organizations are similar.
Beware, not all college students come from your religious background. Diversity of all sorts is one of the blessings of college life. Meet people of a different religious background from yours. Explain your religious positions. Ask others to explain theirs. Learn from each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect. You may find threads of common belief. Surely, there will be religious pluralism and diversity in your neighborhood once you have completed college. College is a great place to learn how to live in a religiously diverse world.
Religion is also an academic subject on most campuses. Enroll in a religion class. Learn about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. In many instances it is also OK to bring up religion in an academic setting.
In scientific fields, remember that sacred writings are not science and that scientific writings are not faith-based. For instance, do not read the Bible to learn science. Do not read a scientific text book to expand faith. It is OK to discuss science and religion, as long as you understand they are two different subjects and not in competition with one another. You can be both scientific and religious.
Religion is alive and well on college campuses. Jump in!
— Send email to Ira DeSpain at firstname.lastname@example.org.