Yesterday was the first day of orientation at Fuller Seminary. It’s refreshing and exciting to see things ramping up. Hearing from Richard Mouw, the seminary’s president, and some of the School of Theology faculty really has me ready to jump into the classes. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to learn more about Christ and seek to know and obey him more in such a diverse environment.
I thought Dr. Mouw brought an excellent sermon at convocation. It was the first time I had heard him speak, and I was impressed. This won’t bring the whole impact, but here are a few of his quotes from the Fuller website:
“We welcome you to Fuller, and hope that you will find this to be a place where you can both think through important issues and catch a vision for the unity of the global body of Christ,” Mouw said. “Fuller was founded with a commitment to the renewal and reform of evangelical scholarship. We have also had a vision for cultural renewal as we apply biblical principles to the social issues of the day, and address these questions with a vigor and a zeal that is grounded in a Biblical worldview. In addition, there has been from the outset a desire to bring about a renewed sense of the unity of the body of Christ—to agree on the basics of the faith, and then together explore areas of disagreement.”
I’m excited about my time at Fuller. One of the reasons I felt it was important to attend seminary was to have a time to ask the theological questions myself before I was asked them by people in church. It’s a chance to learn and test what I believe to be true. I believe the diversity of Fuller allows that to happen in a healthy way.
During a discussion with three faculty members after lunch, an idea popped into my mind I’d like to share. And since it popped into my mind, it came via pictures.
If you’ve lived in “Christian world” for very long at all, you’ve probably felt some part of this. Pastors, friends and other well-meaning people will often share “the best way” to be a Christian. On the church leader side, you’ll hear different ways of ‘doing church’- everything from ‘mega-seeker’ to ‘missional emerging’ to ‘simple cell-based’. Thing is, parts all sound good. They’ve all seen fruit. They’re all being done by Godly men and women who are seeking God.
But they all tend to contradict each other.
Suddenly, because of all the techniques and ideas piled up, you feel trapped. It’s hard to gain momentum. “What am I supposed to be doing for God?” “What’s the right approach?”
It can happen personally – “What does it mean to have a quiet time?” “How do I walk with God?” And it can happen vocationally – “Should our church pursue video venues?”
And that’s what brings us to the next image.
Two techniques or ideas can both be Godly and Biblical. But God uses us based on where we are, how he’s gifted us and where he’s placed us. We need to seek him, but the style or fruit of that relationship may look different in different contexts.
We all need to understand techniques for doing church or living life, but we need to move beyond the pile of human ideas and honestly and openly pursue the divine relationship. Be open to some Godly innovation, not just imitation. Micah 6:8 gives the image of acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. Jesus talks about following him. As we walk in relationship with him and live connected to the people around us, opportunities for fruit and purpose will become clear.
And with that, I’ll end with one more quote from the day.
“God’s Word has the power to change people. No substitute for it -no matter how temporarily successful – will do.”
– Marguerite Shuster, professor of preaching