I read about a Chinese student who enrolled decades ago at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary. This poor fellow gets expelled after having a conversion experience with Jesus while enrolled as a seminary student. Out he goes along with having him committed to an asylum as a madman! At least that’s what the article says. Can you imagine?
In the mid-1970s, I’m accepted into a doctor of theology program at that same august institution. Now, who’s mad?! Costs a bundle, but I want to stretch my mind, challenging my little grey cells. This particular seminary is noted for its liberal theology. An invitation to accept the Lord Jesus for salvation can probably be heard only outside its walls, ivy-covered or not. So, what am I doing inside there?
Fair question. Doesn’t add up, does it? What gives for this evangelical Christian, me? To be honest, this seminary is conveniently located as I’m the senior pastor of a church on the New Jersey side of the Big Apple’s George Washington Bridge. A hop, skip, and a jump from the church’s manse to New York City. But really, do I want to immerse myself in theological banter of such a high intellectual order? Do I? And why? Who knows? I’m not sure…then or now.
But 2 Corinthians 6 pushes itself into my stubborn, degree-hungry face. With what? Listen–‘Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…(2 Cor. 6:14,16). Can you feel the rub as my nose gets shoved against the wall? Putting my conscience on edge? Have you felt the same with some compromise in your life? Be honest now. I won’t hear you. What comes to mind? Something does.
Takes me all of three weekly classes to realize that I’m a fish out of that seminary’s water. Totally, irrevocably unequally yoked. After all, I want to share Jesus with others. Not dissect Him or His Word by using modern intellectual guesstimates and know-it-all speculations, hunting for error among tidbits of supposed myth and legend, when the whole ball of wax, God’s infallible truth, sits right there in front of us in the Bible. After less than one handful of classes, I know what to do.
I don’t fit. Others may but not me. They don’t toss me out onto Broadway at 121st Street or call for the blokes in white jackets. No. I leave of my own accord and get most of my money back. Most anyway. Needs some guts to cut bait and sail away…with Jesus.
I’m praying that I’ll know, much sooner than later, where I shouldn’t be. But doing this makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe someone will criticize me or not like me, which hinders my walking behind and standing up for Jesus. Sometimes I’ve pushed Him to the side, even out of the way, wanting to take the lead. Mr. Nice-Guy. The Country Club Manager-type who makes everyone happy with extra peanuts and pretzels. Me.
Don’t you also want to be a better follower of the One who came at Christmas? To come close to and bow down before the Babe of Bethlehem? Joining shepherds and wise men and an old man and woman in Jerusalem’s Temple? Standing alongside them? Humble seekers and believers? Unflinchingly His? No matter what or where?
Lord Jesus, help me to follow you faithfully. Amen.