In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote on the topic of obedience and used the 1 Samuel account of Samuel and Eli to illustrate his point. In the story, God ordered Samuel to tell some things to Eli that Samuel thought wouldn’t sit too well, but he told Eli anyway because it was the command of the Lord and he desired to be nothing but obedient.
Chambers writes, “God’s call to you may hurt your ‘Eli;’ but if you try to prevent the suffering in another life, it will prove an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own peril that you prevent the cutting off of the right hand or the plucking out of the eye.”
If we are commanded to rebuke or correct our brothers and sisters, yet we refuse to, that is being disobedient, it won’t advance the Kingdom of God and it will become a roadblock in our own spiritual lives. That said, this piece is an attempt to be as obedient as Samuel and to deliver some not-so-wonderful words to my Eli.
Over the past year and a half I have been taking in and processing the words and actions of my fellow students and I have been quite disillusioned — particularly with Bible and theology and ministry students. (Please be aware that this is not directed to all of the students in this department. There are many wonderful examples of Christ among them). Having a Bible minor means that I spend a substantial amount of time with these students and I witness their interactions with each other, with their professors and with students in other disciplines. Suffice it to say, I have been less than impressed.
When I look around my Bible classes, I should see people to look up to, not people who look down on others. Bible/theology and ministry majors are more equipped with outreach and Scriptural interpretation skills than I, as a psychology major, could hope to have upon graduation. This is not to say that I can’t cultivate those skills on my own and with a church, but students in that department are well-educated in those areas … they go to school for at least four years to be trained in ministry and theology!
Yet when I spend time with these students in our classes, I am forced to wonder if we are of the same Spirit at all. Never in four years have I seen class discussion degrade to such extremes of disrespect as I saw in a recent Bible class. What kind of example is that to someone who may not know God? What spirit are you showing? It’s certainly not in unity with the Spirit that moves in me.
In the class mentioned, a professor was addressing Paul’s command in Colossians to abstain from using obscene language. The discussion started out friendly enough, but very soon the tone escalated and many of my classmates were trying to get the professor to approve of their swearing habits. It was appalling to me that Bible and theology and ministry majors were trying to have their sin justified and rationalized. Again, please note that swearing is not the issue here; I know people fall all over the spectrum with their views on that. In this class, though, it was emphasized that it was Paul’s view that obscene and cutting language is sinful. My classmates didn’t like that one of their practices was deemed sin.
I have sin in my life, too, but you know what I call it? I call it ugly, I call it dark, I call it sin. There is no way that I would ever try to say that my sin is acceptable in the sight of God or any man. When the professor would not bend on the issue, my classmates began calling him on what they perceived to be his sin. How very “pulling the speck out of someone else’s eye” of them. At the same time, I am not surprised that my classmates assumed this position because it has become evident that they are set apart from other students on campus and even from their own professors … unfortunately, they are not set apart in a holy and Christ-reflective way as servants to this campus, but in a self-edifying and isolationist way.
“As far as attendance rates go at on-campus events, Bible/theology and ministry majors are some of the least involved people,” Bible and theology major and Student Body President Bob Book said when I asked about student participation.
He went on: “Trying to persuade these groups can be especially hard, even though I feel that simply going to events to support other students is one of the best ministries on campus, one that speaks volumes to the recipients.”
Bible/theology and ministry majors, why are you not reaching out to the people that surround you daily? Why aren’t you embracing the opportunity to share the faith that you call your own with those on campus who may not know it at all?
[pullquote]I urge you, fellow students, to use in all areas of your life the training you have been blessed to receive and to put your faith into action.[/pullquote]
I have focused on Bible/theology and ministry majors here because if there is one department to which a nonbeliever, new Christian or spiritual seeker would likely look for examples of the faith, it would be the theology department. For that reason, I think it is especially necessary for those students to see what I’ve seen.
However, the argument could be made that not all Bible and theology majors are necessarily Christians, so I’ll broaden this call to all Christians at Malone. Please take these thoughts and ask yourself whether the behaviors you demonstrate in your classes (and life) line up with the fruits of the Spirit and the principles clearly outlined in Scripture, or if your behavior has become merely a routine that must change. Actively test your own thoughts, words and actions against Scripture.
If you step back and examine your daily interactions, would you say you are acting in accordance with the gentleness, self-control, patience and Christ-like love that you should be? Are you forgiving and respectful? If not, take these things to God. It is your responsibility to determine what roadblocks are keeping you from experiencing life to the fullest in the Spirit because of the redeeming nature of Christ.
I urge you, fellow students, to use in all areas of your life the training you have been blessed to receive and to put your faith into action. I urge you to check your attitudes toward your professors and toward other students on campus. And I urge you to consider with humble hearts the things that I have observed and written to you. Even though Samuel’s message to Eli was disheartening, Eli ended up accepting God’s message, saying: “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.” Please consider the things that God has put on my heart.
Angela Mahoney is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.