Christian Youths—Be Firm In Faith
“EVERYONE must attend.” That was the announcement. All students in a certain Japanese school had to be present at a general assembly in the auditorium. A young Christian student could not subscribe to some thoughts expressed in the school song. “Well,” he thought, “I know that the school song will be played. But I will not have any difficulties. I will just sit at the back as usual.”
When the young Witness of Jehovah entered the auditorium, however, he found that all the members of the faculty were seated in the back row. Hence, he had to sit in front of them. When the other students rose for the school song, he remained respectfully seated. But the teachers were incensed at this. They physically tried to force him to stand. Can you imagine yourself in such a situation? What would you have done?
Why Strong Faith Is Needed
It would be fine if people let Christians alone and allowed them to live according to their Bible-trained conscience. Often, however, Christians have to face stressful situations. This should not surprise us, for God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, said: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) Besides outright persecution, servants of Jehovah face various other tests of faith.
Christian youths often need strong faith to face trials encountered at school. They may be thrown into contact with classmates who use immoral language or have God-dishonoring attitudes. Young Christians may be faced with increasing emphasis on nationalism and pressure to get involved in clubs, school politics, or other activities that may be spiritually detrimental. Teachers or fellow students may try to put pressure on young Christians to compromise. Hence, godly youths must rely on Jehovah’s spirit for the faith needed to give a clear defense of their hope.—Matthew 10:19, 20; Galatians 5:22, 23.
‘Be Ready to Make a Defense’
The apostle Peter’s counsel is appropriate for both young and adult Christians. He said: “Always [be] ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) What does it take to be ready to make such a defense? First, you must understand what the Scriptures teach. To take a stand at school on matters such as nationalism, politics, drug abuse, or morals, you must first understand the reason for the Christian stand and must sincerely believe in it.
For example, the apostle Paul told fellow Christians: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Do you agree with that? As Paul indicated, it is easy to be misled in the matter of association. A person may appear friendly and agreeable. But if he does not share your concern for Jehovah’s service or even believe in the Bible’s promises, he is a bad associate. Why? Because his life is based on different principles, and things that are very important to a Christian may be of little consequence to him.
This is not surprising, for Jesus said of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) It is impossible for a person to be a true Christian and at the same time be a part of this world, of which Satan is the god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Do you see how such a separation from the world protects a Christian from the corruption and strife that plague so many today? If so, then you can understand why you must maintain your separateness, even if this means that you cannot join in some school activities.*
The importance of being firm in faith and keeping Kingdom interests first in life was shown in the case of a certain young Christian girl. (Matthew 6:33) When her graduation rehearsal was announced, she found that it was scheduled for the same day as the circuit assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses she planned to attend. She wrote a respectful letter explaining why she would be absent from the rehearsal and gave it to her teacher before class. After the class, the teacher called her aside and asked her to explain again why she would not be present for the rehearsal. The girl says: “He wanted to see if my words were the same. Was this my feeling, or did the letter contain merely the words of my mother? Upon seeing my personal conviction in the matter, he did not oppose me.”
“Make a Defense Before Everyone”
Christian youths often find that if they make their position clearly known to faculty members and students before an issue arises, the pressure is not nearly so great when problems have to be faced. One young Japanese Christian relates that when she was 11 years old, her school required that all students attend a Christmas party. Students in the higher grades put pressure on her to participate, but she was not present, and her teacher understood her stand. Why? Because near the start of the school year, the Witness and her parents had met with the teacher and explained various aspects of their Christian position.
While engaging in the field ministry, some young Christians are fearful of meeting classmates or teachers. Do you feel that way? If so, why not take the initiative and let your classmates know that you preach from house to house and why you do so. One 14-year-old Witness of Jehovah reported: “Everyone at school knows my position as a Christian. Indeed, they know it so well that if I meet a classmate while I am engaging in the ministry, I do not feel embarrassed. Fellow students usually listen, and many times they accept Bible literature.” A 12-year-old reports that he anticipates meeting his classmates when he participates in the ministry. Instead of being dismayed at the thought of this, he regularly rehearses what he is going to say when it happens. Thus, he is ready to give sound reasons for his faith.
In many schools, after-school activities are said to be a matter of choice. But in actual practice, teachers and students put much pressure on individuals to join in such activities. A 20-year-old Christian discovered a good way to cope with this pressure. She says: “I served as an auxiliary pioneer all through high school. Everyone knew I was too busy with my religious activities to join in other things.” The younger sister of this Witness followed the same course. Some Christian youths go straight from auxiliary pioneer service during school years into regular pioneer activity as full-time Kingdom proclaimers when their schooling has ended.
Never overlook the good effects of your fine conduct and your courageous witness. Rather than remaining quiet, why not show that you are firm in faith by speaking respectfully but boldly? That is what was done by an Israelite girl who had been taken captive and came to be in the household of the Syrian general Naaman. (2 Kings 5:2-4) Jehovah’s name was praised because of the initiative of that young girl. Similar faith on your part can also bring honor to God and may help others to take a stand as praisers of his name.
The fact is that we cannot compromise our faith and yet remain Christians. Jesus said: “Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 10:32, 33) Being firm in faith as a follower of Jesus is a serious responsibility, is it not?
In order to take a firm stand as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you need strong faith. To that end, you must diligently study the Bible, attend Christian meetings, and engage in the field ministry. If you still feel that something is lacking, what can you do? The disciple James said: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) Talk to Jehovah in prayer about your problem; he can strengthen you to face trials or tests of your faith.
What else can a young Christian do? The book of Proverbs tells us: “Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.” (Proverbs 23:22) The apostle Paul supported this counsel, for he said: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) Christian parents can help you to be firm in faith. Listen to their suggestions. With their help, search the Scriptures and Bible-based publications, looking for ideas, counsel, and experiences. Both you and your parents will enjoy this, and it will help you to overcome timidity or fear.—2 Timothy 1:7.
Take full advantage of the provisions Jehovah God has made through the Christian congregation. Prepare well for meetings. Talk to appointed elders and others who have gone through experiences similar to those now facing you. Solomon said: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction.” (Proverbs 1:5) So learn from these older ones. You can learn, too, from Christian youths who are successfully coping with problems like yours.
Faithfulness Brings Blessings
By standing firm in faith, you will be applying Paul’s counsel to “become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Jehovah knows and understands the problems you face. He has strengthened many who have faced similar difficulties, and he will strengthen you. If you rely on God, he will support you, for the psalmist said: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
Peter wrote: “Hold a good conscience, so that in the particular in which you are spoken against they may get ashamed who are speaking slightingly of your good conduct in connection with Christ.” (1 Peter 3:16) If you refuse to compromise with regard to God’s righteous laws and principles, you will have a good conscience, which is a real blessing from Jehovah. Moreover, you will set a good example for Christian youths whose faith may be weak. (1 Timothy 4:15, 16) Your conduct may encourage them to make efforts to become firm in faith and thus be able to endure trials.
You may even help those who initially oppose your Christian position. Remember these hope-inspiring words: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6) Who knows what good results will come from your sowing good seed by means of your faithful acts?
Among the greatest blessings you will reap is an approved standing with Jehovah. Ultimately, being firm in faith will result in eternal life. (John 17:3; compare James 1:12.) No temporary respite from trial gained by compromise is worth losing that gift.
What about the youth mentioned at the beginning of this article? Well, he endured his ordeal. After the school assembly was over, he tactfully tried to explain his position to the teachers. Though his words fell on deaf ears, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had made Jehovah’s heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) He continued to defend his faith until he completed his schooling. Then he became a pioneer. May your faithful endurance have a similar happy outcome. It will if you prove to be firm in faith.
For a discussion of these and other Bible principles, see the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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□ Listen to the wisdom of your God-fearing parents.
□ Take advantage of spiritual provisions in the Christian congregation.
□ Speak with appointed elders and others who may have had problems like yours.
□ Talk to other young Christians who are successfully coping with similar obstacles.