An open letter to the students and employees of Trevecca

An open letter to the students and employees of Trevecca

The past two weeks have wearied me.

College campuses are the perfect tinderbox for conflict regarding the presidential election. In one unique place, you find diversity, passion, inherited parental politics, newly emerging generational politics, old-people politics, professors with differing viewpoints that are held with unflinching certainty, women who were hoping for a shattered glass ceiling, immigrants who were hoping for a responsible path to citizenship, LGBT persons running the gamut from “seeking dignity as persons” all the way to “affirmation of any and every sexual behavior,” white working middle class people who are tired of being called uneducated, black persons who hope their lives matter, economic-minded citizens hoping for lower taxes and more jobs, Democrats defending the poor and minorities, Republicans wanting less government interference, students just out of the military, 22 nationalities, about 3,500 very different people, and the normal immaturity of the human race. Add to all of this the fast-moving gas fumes of social media looking for a fire somewhere.

I live and work in this community.

So, yesterday I went to church hoping for salvation from my weariness. It was Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Christian calendar year. In a sense, it was the day we celebrate the end of time. We read Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (You may want to pause and read the entire psalm in light of the election.) Then we sang “This is my Father’s World. O let me ne’er forget that tho’ the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world. The battle is not done; Jesus who died, shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one. This is my Father’s world, why should my heart be sad. Jesus is King, let the heavens ring. God reigns, let the earth be glad.”

Then my pastor simply told the story of Jesus, laying aside power, absorbing brokenness, dying in love.

I found myself asking, how do people who believe Christ is King live now? What is the posture of a Christian in a frightened, fractured, fighting world? After two weeks of “How can you be a Christian and vote for x?”, two weeks of people taking and giving offense, two weeks of seeking to reconcile the unreconcilable … I found myself drawn into God on Christ the King Sunday. And similar to an Augustine moment, the Spirit instructed me to pick up the book and read Romans 12. The title of this section in the NRSV is The Mark of the Christian.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21, NRSV).

I won’t attempt a full exegesis of this because—in keeping with the ethic of the kingdom of God—it pulls us in odd ways. My takeaway? Stand in the middle of the mess, seek to understand first, honor people, love, suffer in the mode of Jesus, stay humble, leave room for God to be God rather than rushing in with my answers, remain hopeful, offer blessing everywhere possible in every way possible.

Is this possible today? Only if Christ is King and the end of time invades this day. Back to work.

Dan Boone

Comments

  1. Malinda Flynn says:

    Very thought provoking.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Myron and Betty Wise says:

    You are and have been in our prayers. Trust this will be wonderful Thanksgiving for you And yours. You and Denise are loved.
    Myron &Betty Wise

  3. JScottDavis says:

    Let it be so in my own life

  4. Jim Chapman says:

    I love your quote of letting God be God and not rushing in with your “answers”. You should try it.

  5. Rodney Shanner says:

    The one who wrote Romans 12 also wrote Romans 1.

    • Mr Shanner,

      Actually he just wrote Romans, no chapters, just one letter with a pretty consistent theme and direction throughout. I would expect a retired Nazarene pastor to have a better grasp on this…lest we forget that his writing doesn’t stop at the end of chapter 1. It merely serves as the backdrop for the beginning of his exhortation in chapter 2:

      ‘Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. You , therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.’

      Paul, who saw himself as the chief of all sinners, would make no distinction between those to and of whom he is writing, neither in the beginning nor end of his book, something which is echoed in the post by Dr. Boone, the point of which, sadly, you have seemed to miss entirely.

    • Hans Deventer says:

      And the one who wrote Romans 1, followed it up in Romans 2 by the following:

      2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

      • Good morning Hans, (et al)
        Please read the last part of Romans 1 (from vs 18) all the way through into chapter 2 without stopping at the chapter number or breaks. See that he’s talking to the same people regarding sin.
        Note that he’s talking to those who say that sin is ok even if they don’t do that particular sin. (One example: homosexuality) THEY are judging that it is right and calling God a liar, and they will be judged by God as if they are actually doing that sin! They are putting THEIR OWN beliefs over what God says (remember that passage starts with talking about idolatry and what it is). We are to judge righteously.
        Can a believer PRACTICE lawlessness? (In Matthew 7:21-23 notice these are things believers do and note what Jesus says….and then in 1 John 3:4 God says lawlessness is sin) . Practicing something is different than stumbling back into it by temptation. Practicing sin means there is no heed to the Spirit’s conviction.
        Sin is a very big deal to God. He came and died because if it.
        Also regarding judgement, read Matthew 18 in how to deal with a sinning brother. Well, that has to start out with judging your brother in what he did wrong. In 1 Corinthians the Bread and the Cup was not to just remember Jesus, but to remember what those things represent and to repent for sins. It goes on to talk about judging ourselves..and what happens if we don’t.
        So my point is, not all judging is wrong, and many people read all the judging passages to mean don’t even have an opinion and to shut up about everything and anything. We are not to. We are to be God’s influence in the world, letting people know what sin is and why there is only salvation from it by Jesus Christ.

      • Rodney Shanner says:

        Hans, it’s not about being judgmental, it’s about acknowledging the BALANCE of the total Word of God, not just quoting selective passages.

    • Rom. 2:3-4 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

      Our job as Christians is to be “salt and light,” to love a broken world and point to Christ as the only salvation. We are to judge and discipline those within the Church and those who call themselves “Christians” but we have no authority to judge those who do not believe as we do.

      1 Corinthians 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of [conscious sinfulness]—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

  6. soni Beaumont says:

    This gives me comfort. Our new government is full of racism mysogeny and bigotry but I choose to pray for them to repent. I trust in God.

  7. Michelle Brinson says:

    Thank you for these words of encouragement Dr. Boone. It’s been an emotional roller coaster no matter what category you find yourself in. You have summed up my heart’s desire… to love others and to seek to understand before jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. I learned a valuable lesson a number of years ago after going through one of the most difficult times of my life… I could choose to be “right” or I could choose the “relationship.” For years “right” won and I would fight to the death to prove my point or validate my belief. But God showed me that relationships are much more valuable. And now when faced with similar situations I know the path God has for me… pursue peace… we can still be “right” in our own minds but if it leads to death, division and strife, it’s not worth the fight. Our battle is not against flesh and bone. I know who the real enemy is…

  8. 18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

    22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

    25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

    28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews

  9. Thank you! We can share God’s Word with love to those around us. We may not agree with each other, but we can shine the light and love of God.

  10. Lisa Hardesty says:

    So true. Amen. What more can be said.

  11. Andy Bennett says:

    Thanks, Dan. Your words about His Word are right on.

  12. Thank you! May this be so in the lives of all people and start with me!

  13. Thank you. As a student, I needed this word of truth, and I know we need it as a university as well. Thank you.

  14. Phyllis hartwig says:

    Christian education is very expensive and if my child were demonstrating on a Christian campus and skipping class and doing other things except going to school I think I would withhold funds from him or her

  15. Beth Gibson Rose says:

    Thanks, Dan. Im sharing your thoughts. Truth in the fog of confusion. As my dad would say, “God is good!” Blessings from the Gibson family. XOXO

  16. Lisa Lehman says:

    Thank you, Dan Boone. When Jesus is exalted He draws everyone to Himself. And He is still Prince of Peace.

  17. Lloyd Hayes says:

    Thank you, Dr. Boone, for sharing the feelings and emotions a lot of us have had over the last 2 weeks. Thank you for being faithful.

  18. What a wonderful writing. Thank you so much. This covers about all about the way we should live
    Julia B. McConnell
    TNU alumnus 1966
    Still love and appreciate my alma mata.

  19. Great scripture for such a time as this.

  20. Lisa Watson says:

    So this is where we are. Is it true that things on a Christian campus appear to be no different than on a secular campus? Do we understand what has brought us to this place that we have all arrived to by our own free will??? It is time to stand up and speak for righteousness! The pulpit has been silent on the issues……God has an answer for each of them. It is time for the people of God to press into His heart for truth and then trumpet that truth. If the pulpit remains silent, the voices of the people must be heard. If Jesus is the answer, and He definitely is, how is it that the church isn’t answering???
    The strong winds of change are blowing!! God is sending His word and will perform it. Trumpeting voices that have been set free by TRUTH are arising in the earth and they are setting the record straight. The way that seems right to men produces destruction BUT the way of Christ brings exceedingly abundant life!! Pray for truth and righteousness to prevail. Pray for The Light of God to shine on corruption and deception in every realm of society. We shall know THE TRUTH and THE TRUTH shall make us all free for it was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free! Gods people are throwing off the yoke of bondage and rising out of the ashes! Dry bones are coming to life! The Spirit is blowing a fresh wind over the body! Are you ready to stand and advance? The time is now…..what will you do???
    Let us all join together as one voice speaking the life of The Spirit of God over ALL Christian and secular universities. May God grant supernatural wisdom and spiritual insight to students, professors and academic leadership, and may all follow Him unwaveringly all the way into His heart. May many rise to accept the call of God upon their lives to go into their communities and shine the light of Christ to everyone they know bringing about lasting change in their communities and job places. Lord, give us ALL a heart that is pure and a love that is right, a faith that is fervently grounded in Christ and a hope that endures for all time!! The world is watching! We have been given a GREAT opportunity to advance the cause and kingdom of Christ! Get up! Let’s get moving! A great future and a marvelous HOPE await all who join in the battle for TRUTH!! God bless us ALL!!!❤️

  21. Doris Howard Griggs says:

    Thank you, Dr. Boone for such an encouraging post! Sending prayers as you lead our great University! This article touched me & helped me focus on the real issues! Your message reminds us to be thankful & show the world how the love of God will work in all situations!
    Happy Thanksgiving & continued blessings!

  22. Gary Lee Parker says:

    Thank you, Brother Dan. Your words, the action of a 17 year girl who chose to write on her forehead the day after the election “I CHOOSE LIFE”, and the heart-wrenching pastor’s heart, Pastor Tara Beth Leach, of PAZNAZ message of Sunday, 13 November 2016 is needed especially since PAZNAZ has many congregations including a Latino, an Armenian, a Mandarin Chinese, a Korean, a Homeless, as well as an English congregation not to forget the “In His Image” ministry with people who happen to be disabled and their family and friends. Lord Have Mercy on us that we begin to be the Prophetic People of God as His church in Unity among diversity,

  23. Bill Fisher says:

    Dan, you are not unlike our current president, Barack Obama. You speak as if your world is coming to an end and you are encouraging your student body to gird up their loins but certainly CARRY ON, just as President O. Encouraged the rioters to carry on. You speak of the election results as if something tragic has befallen all of humanity.
    After reading this, “greek tragedy” I wonder if you truly speak for all the students who share your pitiful state..I seriously doubt it.
    What I’d like to know, what have you done with my college??
    A proud TNU graduate, class of 1977

    • Bill,
      Re your question: “what have you done w my college?” is apparent you have not been to Nashville lately and researched the “salt & light” impact of Trevecca in our booming city!

    • Bill, I’m puzzled by your post. Most people view the election as polarizing, pitting persons against each other. My post is about finding a path of reconciliation in Christ by standing between declared enemies in suffering love. This is not about a Greek tragedy or President Obama but about the essence of Christianity.

  24. Such good words! God is the Ruler yet!!

  25. Timohy Johnson says:

    We are called to be LIGHT in a dark world, LOVE in a world of hate, PEACE in a world of war, HOLY in a world of sin, etc. This article refreshed my heart. Well, spoken Dr. Boone. I want to be JESUS to my world. Our job is to be a reflection of Christ to all. (I am the joyful pastor of the Indian Lake Northside COTN in Lakeview, Ohio – A LIGHTHOUSE OF HOPE & HOLINESS!)

  26. The LGBTQ (you are missing the Q in your post) community is, as you stated, seeking dignity as persons (not sure why you put that into quotation marks). However, your opinion of the same community seeking “affirmation of any and every sexual behavior” is both offensive and inaccurate. Comments like these are the very reason that young LGBTQ men and women around this country refuse to seek counsel from religious leaders such as yourself. Instead of feeling inclusive, they feel ostracized and shamed. If we look at the stories written in the Bible, Jesus didn’t spend time with “religious zealots.” Instead, he spent time with those cast out from society. Any religion, if we get to the heart of it, is about LOVE, not judgment. Get to know the LGBTQ community and you will see that they are seeking the same rights as any other human deserves, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or socio-economic class. We cannot continue to judge from a pedestal. Get your feet wet! Take the time to understand others, even if their views are different than your own – then your words will be wiser and won’t sound so offensive. Believe it or not, even at Trevecca Nazarene University, there is an LGBTQ community, whether you choose to see it or not.

  27. Mark Iobst says:

    Very encouraging letter that helps put things in perspective in a world that has all but lost its perspective.

  28. Kendra Hoffert says:

    Dan,
    Thank you for your faithfulness. I thank God for you and Denise and for your witness of His love and faithfulness.

    Kendra Hoffert

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