Marriage: Biblical Academics and Christian Service

One holiday season, my family taped one of those “made for TV movies” entitled “All I want for Christmas.” In a NYC diner scene, a teenager explains the process of “marrying the ketchup” – that is, when two ketchups are running low, you combine them. Since my family has watched this movie over and over again throughout the years, I remember his quip well; he teased, “Tragically most ketchup marriages end in divorce.”

Tragically, God has called us both to know and serve him, but all too often one of these equally important Christian responsibilities divorces itself from the other, resulting in imbalance and decreased usefulness for Christ and his Church. My own life is a testimony to this fact.Like many second generation Christians, I was saved at a young age, 4 years old to be exact; I remember being a little missionary from that early age. During a family vacation in Shawnee, PA, we were swimming in a pool with a giant indian head painted on the bottom – I can still visualize the setting well. One of the other little boys said a “bad word” and I was instantly burdened that he needed Jesus. I tried to make friends with him and share what I knew about Jesus and heaven, but was devistated when he was not at all interested. I called my Mom to help me explain the gospel and when this other boy still rejected, I cried.

I wish I could say that my missionary zeal only grew from that age until now, but that wouldn’t be true. My jr. high and high school days were marked by up’s and down’s — at times, my relationship with God was dynamic and I flourished in Christian ministry. Other times, I was cold, stagnant, and disinterested. 

However, I arrived on the campus of my Bible college with about 15 months of consistent spiritual growth. Not that I was too shocked, but to my dismay, I quickly realized that not everyone at Bible college was interested in seriously serving God. However, many many were and those individuals influenced me deeply (Josh, Ben, Tim, Matt, Nick, Stephanie, Angelina, Jolene, and others – thank you!). During my early years of college, my desire for Christian service was rekindled. I lead a student organization that focused on evangelizing secular college campuses; on the weekends, I travelled at least an hour each way to serve in a local church where they needed help with children’s ministries.

Then, things began to change in my life. I became mezmorized with academia, with reading every journal article, with writing meticulous papers, with being able to parse every verb, ace every test, and smoke every quiz. My devotional life that was previously dominated by a desire to know God was replaced by cold and indifferent academic excercises. By the age of 20, I had completed my bachelor’s degree and one year later, I again graduated with a master’s degree in Bible. As a 21 year old, my heart for service had been stymied by a head obsessed with knowledge; I gained “education” but I hadn’t apprehended Christ. Oh my instructors weren’t stuffy liberals or ivory tower folks, they intended that their training would be put to use in the church. However, I wasn’t mezmorized with Jesus, only facts about Him. I wasn’t addicted to the ministry, only to the original language and theological journals.

However, things are now changing. God has been doing a work in me, one that has awakened my evangelistic zeal once again. I am not content to understand Catholocism; I want to make disciples of Catholics. I am not content to know the five pillars of Islam; I wan’t Muslims to come to know the true God. I can say my zeal for making disciples is both God-centered and ecclesia-oriented. But that’s for another, much longer post.

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