By Dr. Mordecai Brownlee
As written in the word of God in the Book of James Chapter two verse fourteen, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” As we reflect on the current state of our communities, society, and our future, we must ask ourselves, now more than ever, what is Christ calling us to do? Our God-given purpose, our truest sense of self is not simply found in thought, it must be lived by action.
Houston Baptist University, an institution that for more than 60 years has operated as a premier example of Christ-faith in action, realized early on its responsibility in empowering Christians towards their God-inspired calling. Guided by its institutional mission, HBU provides a learning experience that instills in students a passion for academic, spiritual, and professional excellence as a result of our central confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It is in this mission statement that we, as students, graduates, and stakeholders of our beloved institution find our own personal charge. To be Christ-centered and mission-driven. It is through our journey of faith that we learn how best to equip ourselves to serve as “the light” in the midst of darkness. As Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned in his final sermons for his 1963 book “Strength to Love,” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” It is the Christ within us that calls us to be, as Jesus stated in the Book of Matthew chapter five verses fourteen through sixteen, the light of the world.
In physics, energy represents the capacity for doing work. Furthermore, through science, we understand that all forms of energy are originated from a source. As we live in this world, but not of this world, we must never allow the realities of society to dim our light. However, to maintain this energy, and do the work of Christ, we must never lose sense that in Christ we find our source. The word of God in John chapter fifteen verse five states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me (Christ)—and I in him—bears much fruit because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” Houston Baptist University provides a Christ-centered education that equips its students to serve as “the light” in an array of professions to meet the changing needs of the community and society.
Honestly, at the time, as a student of HBU, I failed to fully comprehend the significance of the instruction I received. However, as a proud two-time alum of HBU and now a president of a college, I have deep appreciation for my knowledge learned. Even more importantly, I now understand how my faith prepared me to learn. As Dr. Robert Sloan shared in his Winter 2021-2022 “President’s Message” for The Pillars, “Faith and Learning are not contradictory.” Together, faith and learning provide an infrastructure for the journey Christ has pre-designed for us all. As with all learning, information evolves over time. While Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. (Hebrews 13:8), technology certainly is not. It is imperative that we embrace the significance of life-long learning. Such learning enables our ability through Christ to remain present and relevant in society’s ever-evolving realities.
The diversity of our journeys in Christ is perhaps the biggest asset to the body of Christ. Our histories and certainly our realities are not the same. However, we serve a Christ that remains the same. Through the quality education provided by HBU, we learn to accept the truths of this world to empower us to be the change of this world. Canadian novelist Robertson Davies once shared, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Essentially it Is our faith that presses us to strive towards the realities we have yet to understand. This, in turn, identifies the power of faith and learning. Learning alone can lead to the reinforcement of hatred, prejudice, limitations, error- thinking and bias against others. However, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to showcase spiritual maturity, strength of character and moral virtues. As 1 John chapter two verse eleven states, “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” Through our faith we are called to be the light and not the darkness. We are called to showcase God’s love and power through our roles in society by serving as a living testimony of God’s grace. Once again, the power of faith and learning are showcased – one variable creates room for the other.
I am honored to be an alum of Houston Baptist University. My bride, Daphne Brownlee is also a proud alum of Houston Baptist University, and the institution will always hold a special place in our hearts. On September 2, 2006, we married in front of the Hinton Center located on the steps of the University’s pillars. On that day we forever cemented our love for one another and our love for this amazing institution. In closing, may we all embrace the responsibility we have as believers of Christ to be the light of the world. May we all find our purpose and through our faith discover the mission that God has for us to respectively fulfill. As the community of Houston Baptist University, may we all be Christ-centered and mission-driven.
About Dr. Mordecai Brownlee
Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee (BA 08’ and MS-HRM 11’) proudly serves as the sixth President of the Community College of Aurora in Colorado. In addition, he is a columnist for EdSurge and presents frequently on the future of higher education, community colleges, and educational technology. In 2020, Dr. Brownlee was featured by EdTech Magazine as one of the 30 most interesting voices in higher education who is shaping the conversation around IT and EdTech. In 2022, Mordecai was featured by Diverse Issues in Higher Education Magazine as a “New School” leader representing the next generation of college presidents.