Congratulations on your graduation! It is something to be proud of because it takes an awful lot of time and energy to get to that point. I remember it like it was just yesterday, the thrills of the achievement combined with the excitement and blurriness of the future.
I remember thinking that I was grounded like concrete in my faith, yet I was naïve to many of the trends and dangers being perpetuated in the church and various Christian ministries. Just being a nice guy and wanting to not make a big deal out of doctrinal differences for the sake of fellowship is a slippery slope. The attacks from the secular world are more straightforward. Either God created the world or we came from monkeys. Either drugs are healthy or they are harmful. These things are not too convoluted, but people make the Bible say all kinds of things. That gets very confusing. What is essential is to be able to not just define what you believe but to also be able to defend it. You won’t always have all the answers, but you will always have the source of all the answers in God’s Word. Don’t become dependent upon anything or anyone no matter their status or pedigree, but be confident in Christ.
The best advice I can give you is to have a realistic view of the world, of people, of sin, and of the depraved heart. Satan is real, and life is far more of a warzone than it is fairytale. Be ready to be attacked, be ready to wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Bible, and be ready to be a part of a very small minority that preaches an uncompromised gospel. People will disappoint you, and role models will fail you. But Jesus Christ never will. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you, in the valleys and on the mountain peaks of life. He will protect you from both despair and pride, enabling you to glory in Him alone in whatever circumstance you find yourself. He delivers and provides for His own. Never forget that or give up hope because God is good.
I have written for you a summary of all the things that I wish I had known when I was your age. I had to learn them all the hard way. Perhaps this can give you a head start and also be an anchoring point when the fog of deception attempts to close in. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. That is a command from God to us, and what I have written is my best effort at helping you as you seek His strength.
Life will fast move past Christian clichés and comfortable routines, and it is time to hold the Bible tightly, engage others with the gospel, and start making Satan flee. Expect God to fight for you and to do beyond what you could ask or imagine. Just stand firm in both innocence and confidence, for Jesus alone is more than enough.
Some people get blown about by every wind of doctrine, while others are anchored and firmly planted in the truth. I pray for your roots to grow deep, for you to drink of the Living Water, and for you to bear abundant fruit. Life will start moving fast now, but it will be an adventure. Enjoy the process and make the most of each day.
Your brother in Christ,