Finding Christian Fellowship at Stanford University
Praise God for Christian fellowship! Of all the concerns I carried into my first year of collegiate study, how the university and its attendees would greet my faith particularly weighed on me. Is college as liberal as I had heard? Is campus a hostile environment for the Christian student? As a member of an athletics team, what would they think of me as a Christian? Would I find a group of Christian friends? I had lots of questions, not a lot of answers, and lots of anxiety as a result. I confess that this anxiety stemmed from a desire to “fit-in,” whereas I should have determined to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and let my “light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) regardless of social ramifications. I confess that this anxiety also betrayed my ignorance of the truth that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit,” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I did not have to fear the collegiate environment stunting my walk with the Lord. Rather, I should have believed that God could nurture my faith irrespective of the newfound influx of worldly influences and pressures. Yet despite my misplaced worries, the Lord was patient with me. He did not deal with me according to my sin (Psalm 103:10). He was mindful that I am but dust (Psalm 103:14). Instead of justly chastising me for my lack of trust and my desire to associate with the world, God richly showered me with blessing upon blessing through the vessel of Christian fellowship.
So what are these blessings upon blessings? Space limits me, but I would like to touch on three: a close group of Christian brothers, GBF’s campus ministry—Grace Campus Ministries (GCM), and the corporate assembly of GBF herself. My freshman year, God wasted no time in putting me in a small group lead by a faithful man of God. This group remains today and we continue to dive into the Scriptures together. As our Bible study leader has consistently fed us the truth of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit has confirmed the truth to our minds and hearts, and our mutual, eternal love for God has spilled over into an eternal love for one another. My brothers have stimulated me to love and good deeds, and have encouraged me greatly (Hebrews 10:24-25). God has proven this true in our lives: “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” (Proverbs 27:17). In addition to being dust (Psalm 103:14), I am also, by God’s grace, a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). Yet, I am just a member and therefore I need to exist in association with the other members (1 Corinthians 12:14-21). I need to benefit from fellow believers’ spiritual gifts, and I need an outlet to exercise my spiritual gifting. I need the local church. So God placed me in Grace Bible Fellowship. I have attended GBF for roughly a year and a half now, and it has blessed me mightily. I have been fed the truth of God’s Word, and the body refreshes and encourages me weekly to keep my eyes set heavenward, and to do all my “work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, “ (Colossians 3:23).
Finally, GCM has edified me immensely. Through it, He has provided me and other children of His with a truly Christian community led by yet another faithful man of God. How can I be thankful enough for the regular time in the Word, the worship through song, the chance to see family in a home off- campus, all over a delicious, home-cooked meal? At GCM, God continues to nourish us and equip us to bring the glorious gospel of His Son to our neighbors. As an aside, I confess that I am not thankful enough for being free to practice and free to share my faith on campus. It may be that my Christian faith is mocked at times and by certain individuals, but praise the Lord that we live in a country where it still remains legal to present the gospel. To say that I have even come near to resisting “to the point of shedding blood” (Hebrews 12:4) is irreverent. On campus, God has provided an ocean that we Christian students can legally fish without peril of life. Please pray that I and we all would capitalize on God’s blessed provision.
Why mention all of these joyous involvements? Besides the fact that I thank God for all of them and wish to give Him glory and praise for placing me in them, I also wish to relate that through constant Christian fellowship, God has guarded my heart against falling away while attending college. It is no coincidence that immediately after the exhortation to continue to meet together in Hebrews 10:24-25 follows Hebrews 10:26-31, a warning passage concerning the danger of persisting in sin. The temptation to give myself to worldly pursuits and ever-nagging sin chases me week after week. But God has empowered me for the fight through regular meetings with my brothers, sisters, and spiritual leaders. It has not been by my own strength or willpower that my faith has grown while attending university. No, God has encouraged me through His Word taught by faithful minsters, and this constant influx of Biblical truth and encouragement has kept me from falling away. Praise God for Christian fellowship!