As a freshman in college, I've experienced things that I never experienced before leaving home. I know it's natural for freshmen to be unfamiliar with a lot of things because in college we are exposed to such a variety of cultures and people. But for me, coming to college opened my eyes to how many different beliefs and religions there are in the world.
I grew up very religious. I've been attending church since I was very young. My relationship with God has been a big part of my life. And I know for someone my age, that isn't something you hear very often. I didn't come to college to drink, and party, and find out how many boys I could sleep with before I found real love. I came to get an education, discover the world and just enjoy life.
Coming into college though, I was a little afraid of how people would view me if I was open about my faith. But I actually was pleasantly surprised. Of the people I encountered so far, no one has disrespected me, or even questioned me. In fact, some of my friends have even started coming to church with me. But I know that's not always the reality. I know a lot of kids are bullied for their faith. I even know that once people read this article I'm not going to get all sunshine and smiley faced responses. Because let's face it, living your life for Jesus isn't popular. But no one should be treated differently because of what they believe, whether you're hardcore religious or aren't into religion at all.
A few weeks ago I came across a movie called God's Not Dead, starring Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo. After watching the trailer I was very inspired. It made me realize that being a Christian in college isn't going to be easy, but it isn't impossible if you just educate yourself. So I sat down with Shane Harper, popularly known for his role as Spencer on Disney's Good Luck Charlie, and talked about his role in the film and his thoughts on young people having a Christian faith in today's world.
When asked about the movie Harper said:
Josh is a college student studying law, so apparently he wants to be a lawyer, [the movie] really has to do with the experience he has in philosophy class, his teacher wants to skip [the section of] the course with religion because he thinks that it's pointless. That's where the challenge comes to josh he wants to stand up for his faith so he goes on this journey, and well you'll have to watch the movie to find out.
Harper goes on to talk about what interested him most about the film and what he hopes people get from this film. "I've always been interested in apologetics, the topic of different world views and 'why are we here?' and 'where are we going?' I grew up in the church and sometimes kids who grew up in a church can be sheltered and can't engage with people with different world views."
This is something I personally experienced growing up Christian. I didn't know how answer questions or arguments people presented to me. I had to do my research and learn more about other beliefs. "Being Christian I was interested in conversations with coworkers and friends and want to start healthier dialog between different people with different views," Harper mentioned.
This movie seemed to me as a means to start these conversations that Shane was talking about. I have already seen conversations brewing on the movie's Twitter and Facebook pages. "I really hope this movie can start a dialog. I don't think the movie is going to answer everyone's questions... I don't think any movie can do that, but I hope it can start a healthy respectful conversation. It's a topic people try to avoid, it can be uncomfortable but it doesn't have to be," Harper says.
I've learned that there's nothing wrong with people having different opinions than you, there is always going to be someone who doesn't agree with you. But that doesn't mean you should be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. The key is to do your research. Harper says:
The goal is to not be afraid, not be afraid to talk about it. This movie is encouraging an intelligent conversation, I think that Christians need to be able to challenge themselves; they need to read books that are on a variety of topics, so they can have a very well rounded understanding culturally, scientifically, socially, philosophically. My advice is to educate yourself, to read and study, God is sovereign over everything so we shouldn't be afraid to be educated.
So while I haven't personally encountered any hatred against me for my faith, I really want to encourage all of you out there who have, or will. And I want to challenge those who are afraid interact with people whose beliefs are different than their own.
The Bible 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline." Overall, Harper wanted to encourage people with this: "When people know they are created with a purpose, and not here by accident, it is life-changing. I'm hoping that this movie can be vehicle for people to ultimately understand that."
It isn't going to be easy, but it isn't impossible. So let's educate ourselves, and be able to have those "deep" conversations. You never know how much it can change someone's life. And if you need somewhere to start, check out God's Not Dead in theatres March 7, 2014.