A few semesters ago, I had a professor who was a staunch Atheist. I’ve been around people who were of different faith before, but I’d never had someone with more power than me force anti-Christian ideas down my throat. There were a few classes where the professor would get riled up talking about how having faith was stupid, using literature as evidence. When it came time to write essays for the class, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to do poorly in class but I also didn’t want to condemn Christianity.
A person with power who has different beliefs than you can be pretty scary, especially when that person is a teacher. A teacher is supposed to be guiding you through life, showing you how to live, think, act, etc. It can be very challenging and disheartening having one who tries to prove to you that the teachings of Christ are false. You feel like you have no voice or control over your own beliefs.
So, what do you do? Do you fight the teacher? Do you go with the flow? First, before doing anything, it’s important to turn to God. After all, He’s the one who is truly in control and is the topic of conflict between you and the teacher.
In John 4:7-27, John tells the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. A woman from Samaria was coming to draw water from a well when Jesus came up to her. He asked her for a drink. This, of course, was crazy! Jewish men didn’t talk to women who weren’t their wives or a part of their family. Jews typically treated Samaritans with contempt because they didn’t agree with each other’s beliefs. This woman was flabbergasted that Jesus was talking to her. Not only was he a non-family member but he was also a Jew. Not only did Jesus talk to the woman, but he also offered her the “living water.” She didn’t understand his offer, and if she did, it was against her beliefs, which would have been viewed as a disrespectful act, but Jesus did so in an honorable manner.
Through the passage in John, God shows how Christians should interact with non-believers: firm in Christ with compassion and respect. Jesus could have been like every other Jew and avoided the woman. Instead, he treated her like any other woman of his faith. Just because your teacher doesn’t believe the same things that you do, doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t deserve your respect. Jesus would show a non-believer his respect and you should do the same.
Do I respect my teacher and honor his or her beliefs?
This does not mean to reject God for the sake of your teacher. 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.” No matter what you’re doing – a homework assignment, a test or a group project – you must do it in God’s name. That means that you must respect God through your actions. While your teacher might not be a believer now, he or she might be one in the future. It’s your responsibility to be a positive example, standing up for what you believe and avoid being a stumbling block.
Do I fight for Christianity?
Standing up for what you believe sounds really scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to make a grand display to make a difference. For starters, you could approach the teacher and explain what he or she is saying that makes you uncomfortable. It’s a teacher’s job to make sure that everyone is comfortable in a classroom environment. This doesn’t have to be a heated debate. Calmly explain to your teacher that by talking negatively about Christianity, he or she is making you feel uncomfortable. Someone dissing your religion should make you feel uncomfortable because your faith is a pivotal element of who you are.
What else can I do if I don’t like confrontation?
If you don’t want to talk to your teacher about your uneasiness, talk to some of your Christian friends who are in your classes. See how they feel and obtain your support from them. Constantly be in prayer and ask God what He wants you to do about the situation. Pray for the teacher as well, asking that you or another person would be a positive influence on his or her life. While your teacher is supposed to make a difference in your life, you’re capable of making a difference in his or hers!