Reflections on Seminary

This afternoon, I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary.  I was given the privilege and honor of speaking briefly at the ceremony.  Here were my thoughts on a four year journey that’s changed everything.

Good afternoon.  Fuller faculty, fellow graduates, friends and family, I’m thrilled and honored to have a moment to share with you today.

When I was first approached about sharing a few thoughts, the task seemed simple enough.  I was asked to answer this question: How has Fuller Northern California equipped you to be a missional leader for the work of the kingdom?  As has been the case with most of my experiences here at Fuller, what seemed simple enough at first, turned out to be a more difficult task than initially anticipated.  And yet, also consistent with much of my Fuller experience, the difficulty of the task eventually gave way to a sort of accidental joy.

In wrestling to answer the question well, I stumbled my way into the realization that it is this very wrestling with questions that is the great gift that Fuller Seminary has given me.  It is a dissatisfaction with irresponsibly simple & convenient answers and dogmas built upon human insecurities.  My time here has sparked a humble curiosity in me; it is a humble curiosity about God, life, and people.

My first class at Fuller was New Testament with Professor Daniel Kirk in the fall of 2008.  I’m certain he doesn’t remember having me in that class because I was a remarkably average student, as most of us were in our first quarter or two.  After a brief introduction, he wrote this question in big bold letters on the white board: What is the Gospel?  I immediately thought to myself, “Seminary is going to be so much easier than I thought!”  But three hours later, that thought had been crushed beneath the weight of both Professor’s Kirk’s lecture and dialogue between much more experienced seminarians in the class.  I left that first night completely humbled.  This continued for the next four years, as each new quarter offered me new opportunities to learn, in depth and detail, just how little I actually knew about anything.  But over the years I have learned to find great joy in the process of being humbled by the enormity of our God.  G.K. Chesterton explains it this way:

“If a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.  Giants that tread down forests like grass are the creations of humility.  Towers that vanish upwards above the loneliest star are the creations of humility.  For towers are not tall unless we look up at them; and giants are not giants unless they are larger than we.”

Fuller Seminary has taught me to stand in wonder beneath towers and giants.  This posture has led me to curiosity.  While knowledge and know-how are vital to kingdom work, I believe that as missional leaders, we must first and foremost master the art of curiosity if we are to fully participate in God’s redemptive work here on earth.  Curiosity about God compels us to seek him passionately.  Curiosity about life opens our hearts to experience and expose the divine in what others might consider mundane.  Curiosity about people inevitably leads us to love as Christ loved, seeing the intrinsic goodness of Eden in every human soul, beneath the chaotic clutter of the Fall.  Since day one, Fuller Seminary has inspired me toward this sort of humble curiosity.

And in doing so, Fuller has not only equipped me as a missional leader, it has instilled in me a missional spirit.  I know and experience God differently today than I did four years ago because of the work he has done in me through this place.  As a result, I see the world and the people in it differently.  C.S. Lewis once said…

“There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal… But it is immortals with whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

So today, we are surrounded by one another – beloved friends and family, made in the image of our God, loved beyond measure, everlasting splendors.  May we all, together, participate in the work of our God on the earth, redeeming the lost, restoring the hopeless, and remaking the broken.  And may we enjoy every moment as a gift, with humble curiosity.  Thank you.

 

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