I’m listening to my students and reading some of the discussions about the requirements for faculty at Shorter. The concerns, intense emotions, and debates have stirred my heart and mind as I’ve considered the source of the discord among us.
I heard everything ranging from, “we are not to judge, sin is missing the mark” to ” it’s all supposed to be about love” from my students yesterday. Most who spoke out were opposed to the statement of faith and conduct. A few in favor of it spoke out but were quickly silenced by the intensity of the opposition.
I was honestly surprised to find students at a Private Christian College holding such strong convictions against clear Biblical principles. I heard, “I am Christian, but…” several times before I asked some questions and made some statements in response to the many that I was hearing. My beginning statement was, “we either believe the Bible is the holy inerrant Word of God or we don’t.”
It is clear, even in God’s Word, that we are free to choose, to either accept or reject the gospel message. In response to the questions and comments, I spoke my heart, a heart that deeply cares for each and every person who sits before me each week in the classroom. What is made abundantly clear to me through this debate, is the lack of Biblical knowledge and understanding that is rampant. Much unrest and discord may be attributable to these misunderstandings.
If we believe the Bible is holy and inerrant and we have surrendered our hearts and lives to Christ, much is settled. If we aren’t sure about the accuracy of the scriptures or we haven’t wholeheartedly surrendered, then we are adrift without anchor. My visual of much of what is going on is souls being tossed about on a stormy sea without anchor. How it saddens my heart!
The good news is that these dear folks are not without hope. They are free to dig deeply into God’s Word, to search diligently in prayer for the answers to these most pertinent questions. I encouraged my students to consider the whole counsel of God, not to pick and choose a verse here and there without consideration of the context. These concerns are foundational necessities for faith and for life, both temporal and eternal. May they find truth…
I am intensely aware of the fine line I walk as teacher, as Christian, and friend. I do not simply see a student as one more in a long line who will sit before me for a brief time and pass away with little notice or consideration. Instead, I see each one as a precious soul who for a time I am blessed to teach, to get to know, to encourage. Each one is on a journey, one as important as any other. They are to be challenged to think and to grow in all areas of their lives. I can only teach them well if I care deeply, engage fully, and challenge sufficiently.
Teaching, in my opinion, is more about inspiring students to endeavor to learn than about anything else. I want my students to have the courage to look deeply into the issues of life with openness to truth, even truth that is hard to swallow, and much truth is, I find, at least for me, and I suspect is so for all. Loving them where they are is required of me and that is not difficult as I well remember the many places I’ve been in my own journey and how I had to struggle hard before being propelled over some high hurdles.
After the classroom debate yesterday, I was mentally and emotionally spent. I felt called upon to clarify truth as it is written in God’s Word. I made clear, each person is free to reject what they hear, but as it is written, so it is! We either embrace and adhere to it or we reject. Nevertheless, it stands as written and it cannot and will not ever be changed. I shared with my students that I believe all of it, and that in so doing I am convicted, found guilty and find forgiveness, freedom from sin only by what Jesus did on the cross and my surrender to Him as my Lord. I see it as an all or nothing commitment. After all, by definition, isn’t that what commitment is? And as it is written, indeed it is…all or nothing. The Lord is my Lord, or He isn’t.
Simple and clear as written, yet muddled when we tamper, alter, change, omit, or add to, The Word. So thankful, SO VERY THANKFUL, for the gift of the scriptures for my own hands, eyes, heart, and home. I can study as deep and as long as I so choose and that is a freedom and a blessing that all in this world do not have. I can’t help but think of that when I hear these debates. We can know, we have access to His Word. Is Christ not worth our all? Our wholehearted devotion? Our intense endeavor to know?
The first and great command reveals, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) I mentioned that to my students yesterday, and then I said, “if that is not true of us, nothing else of this debate really matters.” Essentially that is the beginning point. We must first love Him above all else in order to enter into relationship. Apart from HIm, our love is shallow and self-serving.
Is not the heart toward God truly the crux of this whole debate? Does the push back not reside in the desire of some to live in opposition to God’s commands?
When God and His commands set the parameters within which we will live our lives, then, we are honoring HIm as our God. When we break from that, and redefine the parameters for ourselves, we remove Him from Lordship over our lives and assume that role for ourselves. We are free to choose to live either way, but these are fundamentally different lifestyles and we need to be truthful about that. The consequences for our choices are of eternal proportion. May we be honest with ourselves and others for the sake of both truth and consequence.
So simple, yet so profound is the essence of faith and a walk with God. May we find our hearts ever bound in faithful, willing obedience to the Lord in all things.