Andrea Luxton, president, looks forward to welcoming students back to campus. Credit: Stephen Payne
One thing is certain: not all we leave behind when change happens is bad, and not all that change brings is good. However, what a time of change does do is allow us to make prayerful and deliberate shifts from what is negative in the past and to embrace new possibilities. That recalibration can bring with it hope and opportunity for ourselves and others.
The Bible is certainly packed with stories of change, recalibration, and new hopes and opportunities —the Israelites as they left Egypt and then as they arrived in Canaan; the nation of Israel again and again with prophets that encouraged repentance and redirection of values and allegiances; the disciples as they understood the true meaning of the Messiah and gave up their views on an earthly kingdom to focus on a heavenly one; and the early church as it expanded its reach to all peoples. Of course, not all people accepted the leadership of Moses, the directions of the prophets, the message of Christ, or the choices of the early church. The personal loss was too great, and so they chose the route of the past, seeking to ignore the opportunities that came with change.
One of the most poignant stories in the Bible to me is the well-known story of the ich young ruler, a young man with so much to offer. He seems to have the passion and the desire to do what is right. What can I do to inherit eternal life? Follow the commandments to God and his fellow humans. He has done that, he replied. But Jesus knows that the young man cannot fully embrace the change that the gospel brings unless he is willing to give up what keeps him from moving forward: his riches. And that he cannot do. As he leaves, Jesus looks at him sadly. An opportunity lost. Huge possibility not embraced. Personal safety and security wins over uncertain opportunity.
What about us in this time of change that is around us? What does God call us to do? What can we take away from this time of turbulence that makes us live more effectively as God’s agents in this world? For Andrews University, how do we position ourselves even more effectively as a place that is serious about making World Changers for a changing world, and not just any World Changers but ones that do so in the context of faith to God and compassion for others. I will let the other articles from Andrews University in this publication explore more of how our commitment is evidenced on our campus while here I would like to identify some commitments I have made as we move into an environment of a changed world.
I said these commitments are for me personally and they are. But at Andrews University, these are corporate commitments, too. I believe they are commitments that change hearts, and as hearts change so does our capacity to face the changing world with a grace, passion, hope, faith and optimism that will, in turn, bring positive change.
If we are truly going to be World Changers in a changing world, our message and actions must be clear, compassionate, unequivocal and hopeful. We must truly live the reality of loving God with our hearts, souls and minds, and our neighbors (all neighbors) as ourselves. And when, as did the rich young ruler, we ask God what else, we must be willing to embrace the answer.
I want to add one more thought to this message. There may be a tendency as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues in our lives and communities to consider that maybe Adventist education isn’t so important right now: it may be cheaper elsewhere. I would want to counter that by saying, I think Adventist education is even more important than ever before. Why? Because education is never in a vacuum; there are always underlying ideologies that drive what happens in a school or university. What we need now, at this critical point in the history of this world, are graduates who have wrestled (in an environment that is passionate about faithful, biblical engagement in the world) with those critical questions around how my faith, my education and my commitment to being a changemaker all come together. If we are going to make World Changers for a changing world, we are going to have to do it intentionally, prayerfully, and together.
For a video message from Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University, visit andrews.edu/worldchangers/changingworld.