Over the weekend, I had the privilege of leading worship for a group of Baylor students. These students are bright, driven, and serious scholars. A good number of them want to pursue postgraduate education or are applying for prestigious honors such as Fulbright Scholarships. The purpose of the weekend was to help these students discern what it means to be a “Christian scholar.”
Right off the bat, I have a problem with this phrase. In it, “Christian” is merely an adjective, a word to describe. For these students, my concern was that “scholar” was their true identity while “Christian” was just an aside, a description they felt compelled to proclaim.
In my conversations with them, it was apparent that they trusted in this adjective, “Christian,” without giving it much thought. For instance, one of the students was worried about teaching in a secular university because he was afraid that he would be ostracized because of his “belief in Christian teachings about sexuality and drinking.”
So this is my question: why has the whole of Christian life been boiled down to booze and sex? To me, these students were simply trusting in what they professed, being Christian, rather than thinking hard about what that meant. I promise you, they were thinking much harder about Plato’s Republic than they were the New Testament.
The words of Jeremiah speak with prophetic power to those of us who trust in the name “Christian” without giving it much thought. To the Israelites Jeremiah proclaimed, “Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:4). Indeed, the temple was destroyed. And I’m afraid that the faith of these young Christian scholars might too be destroyed if they simply say themselves: “But this is Christian teaching, Christian teaching, Christian teaching!”
Think hard about your faith. Is Jesus Christ the adjective or noun of your life?