In the spirit of October being chock full of college applications and letters of recommendation for our seniors, I started our message today with a look at the university mottos of schools where my past students have gone. The mottos are rather stunning, really ~ here's a sampling of what I shared:
- Brown University: In deo speramus = "In God We Hope"
- Dartmouth College: Vox clamantis in deserto = "A Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness"
- Johns Hopkins University: Veritas vos liberabit = "The Truth Will Set You Free"
- Northwestern University: Quaecumque Sunt Vera = "Whatsoever Things Are True"
- University of California: Fiat Lux = "Let There Be Light"
I simply asked the students this morning, "What stands out to you?" One of them blinked slowly and said, "These are all verses from the Bible."
"Exactly! What does that tell you?"
"That these used to be Christian schools."
Indeed. Each one of these prestigious universities were begun by earnest followers of Christ who wanted, as believers, to seek after knowledge and truth, understanding God's creation and calling.
From there I pointed out that it is so easy to stray from our mission. We always start our projects and commitments with a genuine desire to fulfill them. But over time, we can slowly shift and get distracted from the initial goal. What are our goals as Christians? As believers, our "motto" can be simple: Seek first the kingdom of God. Yet how often do we stray from that?
We spent the rest of the time in class reading in Mark 12. I asked them to look for a thread that ran throughout the chapter...
When I read it, what stood out to me is that time and again, in multiple and incredibly creative ways, is that Jesus calls his listeners to their priorities. "What matters most to you?" is what I hear him saying in each of these encounters. For example, in the classic "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's" section, what he is forcing his enemies to face is whether they will cling to power, or cling to God.
In the trick questions about marriage at the resurrection, he is calling them at their bluff (the Sadducees didn't even believe in the resurrection), and reminding them that it is our relationship with Jesus that will last eternally, beyond our relationships on earth. Yet whom do I love most?
In the final poignant scene with the widow and her tiny (yet heartfelt) offering, he reminds me that my hope is only found in Him, not in money or possessions.
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God,And His Righteousness.And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You,Allelu, Alleluia.
Simple, but true. May this be my "motto," and may I never stray from it.