I work at a Christian university that has developed quite a culture. A culture that they are very proud of. I have worked at two others Christian, Baptist universities and DBU is unique in its commitment to Christ-centeredness and Servant Leadership.
Maybe you have been a part of a church with a rich culture with many admirable qualities and distinct elements of what is good.
What we have to guard against, though, is mistaking these institutions as a way of life. Let me explain.
I might be prone to thinking about being a servant and sacrificing some of myself to help the students at DBU because our culture has instilled that idea in me. Or, I may have a community surrounding me at my church that is inspiring and uplifting. But the reality is that these institutions are mere vessels. Scripture says that we have treasure in earthen vessels.
We have to ask ourselves, is being a good member of my church more important than being a good follower of Christ? Is being a good Baptist, or Methodist, or Lutheran more important than being a good Christian? Is being a good parent more important than being a child of God?
You see, we are called to be obedient to Jesus with all that we have have and nothing else.
This is important, as Dallas Willard has said, “The problem comes when we mistake the vessel for the treasure, for the treasure is the life and power of Jesus Christ.” Willard goes on to say, “A culture can capture us and shut off our access to the supernatural spirituality of the Kingdom of God.”
So, praise God for these institutions that are doing good work, even excellent Christian work, but let us not substitute these good things for the great goodness that comes from a life with Christ. A life that is filled with power, creativity, conviction, growth, and grace. This life is what is worth our complete allegiance and obedience. Everything else is just a vessel.
photo credits: Alexandre Dulaunoy