Dear Friends, Living life involves risk. Adam and Eve were not told to stay in the Garden of Eden. Instead, they were told that, as human creatures bearing the image of God, they were supposed to rule and subdue the entire earth. That kind of “ruling” does not mean enslavement; it means to be stewards over and to care for. And, it involves more than taking care of the creation, though that certainly is part of it. It means extending the kingship of God throughout the earth. This was the mandate given to Adam and Eve prior to the Fall. And even though they were not allowed back into the Garden, it is clear that the mandate even for fallen human beings is that we extend the frontiers of the kingship of God into all the world, which includes all peoples, all institutions, and all social structures. Constructing the Tower of Babel did not become an evil incident because it involved a large city and huge populations of people. That project was sinful and broken because the people aspired to build their families, towns, and cities apart from the living God. The Scriptures conclude in the book of Revelation by telling us the story of the recovery of the nations, when the “kings of the earth” will bring their glory into the great city of God and there will be healing of the nations, the resurrection of the dead, and the joy and celebration of life properly lived under the kingship of God (Revelation 21:22-22:5).
To do God’s work in the world always involves risk taking. God himself took the risk of giving Adam and Eve the freedom to rebel. Human creatures are made with that capacity for obedience and rebellion. And the world, it seems, has perfected the art of rebellion against the ways of God. Kindness, love, the celebration of family life, the sharing of our goods with those in need, and the building of families, businesses, cities, and nations that submit to the will of God and dispense justice evenhandedly have given way to selfishness, greed, corruption, violence, and the lust for power.
But the decisive moment has come in the history of the world. The coming of the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus, is not only the high point thus far of Jewish history, but also a decisive turning point for the entire world. The apostle Paul calls Jesus “the second Adam” (Romans 5:12-19) and also “the last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:21- 22, 45-49). That means that God has begun to restore humanity and the world through Jesus. Wherever and whenever people submit to the kingship of God through Jesus Christ, the possibilities for new creation have begun. We are still called to be His agents in the world, to extend the frontiers of God’s kingship in our families, towns, and cities. And that involves risk taking.
There are many examples of risk taking in the New Testament. A simple one is the story in Luke 19:11-28 of the great nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom and, while he was gone, gave his servants (stewards) various portions of his estate to manage. They were given different amounts, and they had different results, but the two he commended when he returned after receiving his kingship were the two who invested wisely what they were given. They were risk takers, daring to build their master’s estate. The servant who received harsh and severe criticism and faced great judgment was the one who took no risk whatsoever and hid what his master had given him under a rock. He was more afraid of losing it than seeing it grow.
While politicians, commentators, and all of us no doubt disagree as to the causes and sources of our world’s problems, surely no one can disagree that the world is in a terrible mess. There are places throughout the earth – in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe – where violence can break out at any moment. Terrorists are emerging suddenly and without mercy and can strike in any place at any time.
Wherever we look, there is the need for Christian people to be salt and light in the world, to be agents of constructive family building and world building. We are the agents of God through Christ in the world, and we need to live His message of forgiveness, mercy, and community building. The church, indeed, ought to be the one place where all peoples may come together in simple faith under the one true and living God, who has revealed himself through Jesus Christ.
At HBU, we are willing to be risk takers. The traditional patterns of higher education have changed dramatically in the last several years. And while we are going to keep all those historic traditions of teaching, research, and a residential university – as well as our foundational curriculum involving history, languages, literature, the sciences, business, the arts, music, and all the helping professions like nursing, ministry, and education – we are also going to expand our ability to deliver all these branches of learning. We have been offering online courses for a number of years, but we believe it is time for us – while keeping a strong emphasis upon our residential university – to expand our online division. You will read more about the growth of HBU online in the coming days. We see this as an important step forward, an important risk of faith when it comes to maintaining and strengthening all the core values that we have as a Christian university.
And, HBU will continue to speak to the issues of the day. Although we have found our own religious freedom attacked and our traditional commitments to life, family, and Christian marriage criticized, we will continue to stand for a scriptural faith and a scriptural view of the world. We intend to speak out when necessary, not only to protect ourselves, but to share God’s truth with the world so that we may be responsible, faithful risk takers in a world that desperately needs God’s stewards and agents to extend the frontiers of His kingship into all nations. Thank you for all that you do to support HBU.
Dr. Robert B. Sloan, Jr.