In Spanish class, we are currently doing a Spanish Show and Tell(My Life in a Bag) As I was looking around my room for objects, I saw my Bible…Which is certainly part of my life. Except, I know that everyone knows I’m Christian(I’m definitely not quiet about it) and I know that a lot of the kids in my class will see it as just me declaring it to the world again and again, sort of as a flex (Flex is bragging for you non Gen-Zs) I suppose, and even though It’s not, I know a lot of kids will see it that way. I know some of them are annoyed when I talk about my faith already, and will see my bringing a Bible as offensive or pushy. It also sort of feels like now I am required to add my Bible, or like deny my faith, I suppose. So I’m really not sure if I should bring it or not. Also-there is this kid in my class that REALLY doesn’t like me. Not for any specific reason, just that I don’t let him push me around. There’s always this reoccurring thought of: What if the fact that I’m Christian makes someone else not want to be?
Has anyone had an experience like this? Feeling like you are required to sort of prove you’re a real Christian?
This is an interesting question. I hope our conversation will empower you to strengthen your walk with God and your relationships with your classmates.
Ultimately, you have to make a choice that’s based on faith and conscience. If you don’t feel like a particular recommendation is loyal to Jesus, then your spiritual vitality in sharing your story will be compromised.
One challenge is just getting to the level of awareness. Why do you want to bring a Bible? Why do you not want to bring a Bible? If you’re able to take some time to journal, pray, and get through the surface layers to your core motivations for how you complete this assignment, I think that can help you make a decision that’s aligned with your values. Ask God to help you search your heart.
I think when we can see how guilt, shame, peer pressure (positive or negative), etc. are motivating us, then we gain a bit more freedom to prayerfully evaluate what it would look like to act out of love and joy (and the other fruits of the Spirit).
For my conscience, I would not feel obligated to bring a Bible. My question would be, how can I authentically represent who I am - as a disciple of Jesus, yes - in a way that builds trust?
I’m curious what others might suggest, as well as what you ultimately decide to do (and why).
I think I’ve had an experience like this. During my freshmen year of college, two friends and I were known as “the floor Christians” because, out of all the people on our floor, we were the ones actively involved in ministries and talking about our faith.
It was a really strange experience and I felt a lot of pressure because I knew that how others saw me would directly impact how they saw Jesus and what they believed about him. Never before had I quite so fully felt the weight of 2 Cor. 5:20, that we are ambassadors for Christ.
So, I definitely felt like I needed to truly live as Christ calls us to - since I knew the impact that it would have on so many people. Yet, I think in that space it is important to remember that God is working in the lives of the people around us, both my floormates in college and your classmates now. We get the chance to participate in His mission and to show them His love, but ultimately we can’t change hearts, only He can.
Recognizing that helps relieve some of the pressure. We should certainly take our role as ambassadors seriously and do our best. Yet, in the end neither our salvation nor that of those around us is won through our works, but they come through faith by the mercy and grace of Christ.
There are many ways that we can share Jesus with those around us. This Show and Tell could be one great way of doing that, but it’s not the only way. No matter how you share though, know that as the world hated Christ, so we too will be hated John 15:18-26. And if you are speaking in love with the grace and truth of Christ and people reject you, remember the words of Christ when he sent out His disciples in Luke 10:16. He told them that if people reject them, they are not truly rejecting them, but Him.
Yes, I have felt this plenty of times. I think there is an expectation that if Christ is true, and our faith in him is true, we cant have any struggles. If we are honest about our struggles, our faith is seen as inconsequential. I have learnt to say that my weakness points to my need for a savior. All Christians are works in progress just as anyone else and our only boast is in the finished work of Jesus (Phil 3:12-16). Jesus didnt come for the righteous but for sinners. I am not saying its not important to be an ambassador for Christ.
Another way I have experienced the pressure to prove I am a Christian is through requests that ask of me to test God and his faithfulness. For example, an unbelieving friend in college once asked me “If God is really true and hears your prayer, then why dont you ask your God to heal my vision so that I dont have to wear glasses”. These words echo the classic means of temptation our adversary uses to tempt and we can emulate Jesus’ response in Luke 4:12.
As for your show and tell, I think it may be a great opportunity to build some common ground with your classmates as it sounds like they already know of your faith. It can be a means of building trust, as Carson suggested. If you feel there is someone who really needs to hear about your faith, then of course you should feel free to bring your Bible. If someone doesn’t want to hear or receive us, it probably doesn’t help sharing about our faith (Matt 7:6).
This is my first response to one of these forums, so I hope this gets to the person it’s meant for and not to a general comment section.
I think it’s always important to think and pray about my overall character impression to another person first. First, am I kind? Am I genuinely interested in the other person? I emphasise the word “person” here, because people have a well-tuned radar for those who view them as projects rather than human beings. In that same vein, am I a good listener who will hear another person carefully and then ask (gentlely) for clarification on points I don’t understand? Do I create the impression that I can be trusted not to gossip or needlessly share a confidence? Along with that, would someone else have reason to believe I’m relatively relaxed and content (not perfect) in my own skin? Can I laugh at myself and admit when I’m wrong or simply uninformed?
In my experience, if these conditions are met, it’s far more likely that others wiil accept me when I mention that I’m a Christian. If they want to know more about what I think and why, then, with the other person’s permission, I might bring a Bible around. If you approach others in this manner, I doubt you will ever be accused of “flexing,” even if it turns out that you are dealing with someone who rejects Christian faith.
Hope this is helpful.
Hi @julia , you posted in the right place!
I think your points are spot on, and relevant to each one of us. It reminded me of the example in 1 Peter 3:15-16 where we are to engage always with gentleness and humility to those around us. The examples you gave emulate gentleness and humility.
I agree that people always know if they’re a ‘project’ rather than a person. To build genuine relationship with unbelievers will be a great witness before any words are said or Bibles shared. Hopefully the gospel can be shared when the relationship is established.
@maylana I really appreciate your dilemma, and the ideas given by everyone. Maybe see this as an opportunity to build relationship with the class. It might surprise them that you take a different approach and it might open up new conversations.