Three of our biggest universities in the Churches of Christ are having their yearly “lectureship” on following Jesus. Abilene Christian University is having their yearly Summit on “Margins: Following Jesus at the Edge in Luke’s Gospel.” Lipscomb University and Harding University are both doing theirs on the Sermon on the Mount (Jesus’ iconic hillside speech in chapters 5-7 in Matthew’s gospel). Harding’s Lectureship is entitled “Rock Solid Living: Getting Serious about the Sermon on the Mount.” Lipscomb is calling their Summer Celebration: “Practicing the Way of Jesus: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount.”
This reality could point to a few possibilities:
- Maybe they did not plan well to differentiate their themes from one another
- They don’t care what the other is doing because they pull from completely different audiences
- There is a realization within our churches and universities that we need to make Jesus and his teachings our top priority.
Both #1 and #2 probably have some truth to them, but I hope that #3 is the answer. I respect all three of these universities in different respects. They are the three Universities that I have the most experience with. Within the Churches of Christ, our universities serve as leaders in shaping the minds and hearts of our young people. I speak from experience as an alumnus of Harding (You can debate amongst yourselves how I have turned out). Those of us within the Churches of Christ know how influential our universities can be. They are responsible for significantly shaping the way our churches end up thinking, ministering, and worshiping. This is why I really hope that #3 is the reason for these “lectureship” themes.
It seems to me that Christianity in America is becoming obsessed with Jesus again. Maybe I overstated this a bit but at least this seems to be true by the books that are being written and by the messages being produced by some of the more influential preachers. There seems to be a contagious fever sweeping the country for becoming dedicated disciples of Jesus. I hope this is true.
You can easily see this theme in many recently published bestsellers. David Platt is “radical” about Jesus’ teachings. Sarah Young hears “Jesus calling.” N.T. Wright wants to uncover the “Simple Jesus.” John Ortberg asks “Who is this Man?” Leonard Sweet emphasizes, “I am a Follower.” John Eldredge writes of the “Beautiful Outlaw.” Frost and Hirsch want to “ReJesus” the church. Obviously Jesus has always been the top discussion point in Christian writing beginning with the New Testament. But it seems to me that there is movement of the Spirit in our leaders, churches, and universities (hopefully) revealing that we need to get back to simple obedience to Jesus and following his teaching as our top priority. This will take more than just bringing him and his teachings back more regularly as featured guests at our university “lectureships.” I hope that is the case though.
I feel that there is a “Jesus Movement” brewing within Christianity, and hopefully within the Churches of Christ, to be serious about Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I feel that there are so many that are being moved by the Spirit to recognize the importance of discipleship to Jesus within our churches. Maybe I am saying all this because this is something that I am recognizing I need to do more in my own life and teaching. I will be praying that God will work in me, our churches, our world, and even our universities to be more Christ-centered in our teaching and our living. Jesus is not only our Lord and Savior, but the greatest professor imaginable with eternally-significant, life-changing, joy-filled curriculum. Jesus is our faith’s keynote speaker.
I am not sure which of these three “lectureships” I will attend yet. But I know that I am glad that they are all talking about Jesus…and so is our Lord.