Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


Hogwarts and Southern Seminary

I have a confession to make. This is one I probably would have been a little appalled and somewhat ashamed to make several years ago. Today, however, this confession comes with nary a bit of seared conscience, nor even the tiniest portion of hesitance. The baring of my soul reveals this: I like the Harry Potter movies. The little boy in me is quite taken with the idea of going away to school, to learn at an educational institute in some strange and faraway land where the stars are strange and the customs of the accent-bearing natives are even stranger.

Wait a second...

I suppose that comparing Hogwarts to Boyce College and Southern Seminary would border on heresy in the minds of more than a few staunch SBC fundmamentalists, yet that is precisely what I'm doing. After all, it seems to me that those at Hogwarts, much like those at Boyce and Southern, are well aware that they are among those who have received a special calling, an invitation to a life dedicated to a specific purpose. As such, that calling entails a training of no less a dedication and purpose. Furthermore, if one is given the opportunity to tour the little campus in Louisville, there is no doubt that those involved with Boyce and Southern are, as our esteemed President often reminds us, standing on the shoulders of giants. That is what it is to study at an institution such as this; I do not doubt that Harry Potter would nod his head in understanding.

But what of it? What of our education and preparation for life and ministry?

Several years ago, when Leeman was still here, Scott and I were discussing the ministry potential of one of our fellow Boyce students. Scott told me that this student had come up in discussion with Leeman, and that the two of them were concerned. Why so? As I recall, the young man in question had displayed a distinct lack of good Christian maturity on more than one occasion. In fact, what seemed to be the consitent factor in his life was the inconsistency with which he displayed godly character.

The reason that Scott brought this up to me in particular was because he felt a responsibility for this young man and wanted to ask me to share in his burden. As those who are training for ministry, those who are Christ's body and members one of the other, we have a sober and humble responsibility to watch over our brothers, particularly those who are training for and are in ministry with us. Scott and I were of a like mind, thinking that if we saw this young man's character as being in need of molding and shaping and did nothing to address this need, we were in sin. If we saw this need and did nothing, and this young man went on to full-time vocational ministry somewhere, what type of fruit would his ministry bear? Would he remain faithful, would he be fruitful? Worse, would he do damage to human hearts, all in the name of Jesus? If we thought about all of this and did nothing, what type of damage might we be doing?

These days, I still think about that young man. I think about him for different reasons those that brought Scott to me. I ponder how close I come to being like him, in the sense that I also have a great potential to affect people in life, in minstry. Will that affect be such that people see and savor Christ all the more, or that they turn away from Him in bitterness and confusion? I don't know the answer to that yet, but I do know this: as much as that young man showed such an agonizing lack of potential for the good of the Kingdom, I sincerely pray that God uses that young man in many powerful, God-glorifying, Kingdom-building ways. Wouldn't that be amazing? Isn't it wonderful to think that the LORD would take a life that didn't belong, one of those lives that was not like the others, and make it beautiful and unquestioningly His? Absolutely.

In my time here in Louisville, I've learned many things. Many of those things I would probably never have learned had I not come. Yet, there's an inherent danger in training at a place like Boyce. I forget that I don't belong; none of us do. At least, we don't belong on our own merit. To serve King Jesus is to respond to a call to serve in the strength of His glorious, gracious might. As John Newton wrote, "'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." Grace! There is no room for pride, no room for assuming that I will succeed where another will fail. The biblical list of heroism does not include individuals who were born winners; if anything, they were people whose pedigree was questionable, whose accomplishments were negligible. And in those instances where pedigree and accomplishments were of worldly worth, God made it abundantly clear in the crucible of humiliating discipline that it is His hand that truly does save. So it is here at Boyce. Those of us who are brought here have, by and large, no pedigree or accomplishments to back our calling. Those of us who do will be marked as His by the gracious, shaping suffering that the followers of Christ are given to share in.

Is it exciting to be called to ministry, to be granted to share in a sacred, high calling? Absolutely. Is it humbling? It ought to be...for it is a calling wherein Jesus calls us to come and die. Such it is train, to prepare here at Boyce and Southern. It's far more special than Hogwarts, but it's just as easy to get caught up in the fantasy.

posted by Bolo | 12:24 PM
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