By Todd Brady, Vice President for University Ministries
Welcome back! God has so much in store for us this semester. Regardless of what lies before you over the next 15 weeks, I pray that the following five words would be characteristic of your life—both this semester and in the years to come.
Pursue God. “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” (Colossians 2:6) Be like the Psalmist who said, “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) Regularly listen to and learn from God by reading His Word and engaging in prayer. Strive for “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) In addition to reading the Bible, take a look at resources like Praying the Bible, Whitney, and Powerful Prayers in the War Room by Union’s own Dan Lancaster. Maybe this is the year when you take a swing at practicing the spiritual discipline of Scripture Memory. Check out The Topical Memory System (Navigators).
Every year around graduation, I ask students about their greatest joys and regrets during college. The joys are many. Regrets usually run along the lines of “I never settled into a church” or “I went here one year and there the next” or “I attended this church on Sunday mornings, but went to another church on Wednesday nights.”
Church cannot be merely a theoretical ideal, and we must not approach it with a cafeteria mindset. Commitment to the church is seen in the regular, hands-on investment of our time and relationships in a local church community. As Jonathan Leeman says in his excellent book, Church Membership, church is not an easy come, easy go thing. “Christ does not call us to join a church, but to submit to a church.” The church exists to represent Jesus to the world.
If you’re still looking for that perfect church, give up. It doesn’t exist in Jackson—or anywhere for that matter. Don’t dive in to a church because you like it. Dive in to a church because God commands it. It’s not about preference. It’s about obedience.
God has brought you to Union University for such a time as this. Remember that your being here is a blessing and that with blessing comes responsibility. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Study well and do good work. Be the student God has called you to be, and “do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Through your studies this semester, you will be challenged to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) Not only will your University experiences challenge you to grow in pursuit of being a Great Commandment Christian. It is our prayer that your time at Union will propel you in being a Great Commission Christian—that you will grow more passionate, bringing your learning and skills to bear on a life that “makes disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) Indeed, you are the salt and light of the world.
This semester, serve someone every day. Christ has modeled the way of service for us. He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7) and he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
A plaque in the BAC reads, “Remember that the world’s greatest leader washed the feet of his associates.” These are not just good words for business, education and social work students who walk the halls of that building. They are good words for us all.
“The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
Maybe it will be through your church or through University Ministries or a student organization. Regardless, do for others. Serve your fellow Union students. Serve your church. Serve your fellow Lane College students across town. Serve the Jackson community. Go on a GO Trip. Serve others, and you will find that God will not only bless others through you. He will bless you in the process.
Understanding that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,” (Romans 10:17) Christians share the Gospel with others. Evangelism is not a job for the minister or the missionary. It is the privilege and responsibility of all followers of Christ.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him, he said that he would make them fishers of men. (Matthew 4:18) Followers of God are to be fishers of men.
Pray for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who are lost. Read good resources like The Master Plan of Evangelism (Coleman) or Tell the Truth (Metzger) or Concentric Circles of Concern (Thompson, Jr.)
Share the Gospel with those who do not yet know the Lord.
We all stand somewhere. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Where will you stand this semester? Whether at times of controversy or challenge or convenience or comfort, may these five words—Godliness, Church, School, Service, and Evangelism characterize your standing as a student this semester.