Sunday, February 21, 2010

Doubt not, fear not

We got to church this morning, a few minutes late, and Cooper walked right up to the front of the chapel and sat down in the second row. GeekBoy and I sat next to him, and as I opened up the hymnal, I looked up to determine what page number I needed to be on and realized that my university president was sitting on the dais. Nothing makes you realize how unkempt your kid's hair looks like than having your boss's boss's boss's boss sitting in front of you.

One of the interesting things about working at a church university is that the university president is also an ecclesiastical leader. He presides over a huge area - somewhat like what I imagine a Catholic cardinal to be, though I have no idea how accurate that is. Having these two aspects of my life - work and faith - interact in this way is challenging at times. The political science part of my brain and the faithful part of my brain have very interesting conversations about belief and bureaucracy and obedience and oppression. The Mormon part of me and the Marxist part of me don't get along really well. I constantly am discursively creating and recreating my role as an academic of faith.

That said, I love my university president. He really preaches with the Spirit, and I find that he focuses deeply on the responsibilities we have to bring ourselves in line with the teachings of Christ, and doesn't shy away from the difficulty and necessity of exact obedience. Along with the constant call for self improvement, he also focuses on our call to reach out to others in charity, and our responsibility to care for the poor, needy and oppressed.

Every time he talks, I learn something new. Today's talk was on the story of Christ calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. This is a story that I have read more times than I can easily count, and yet today I learned a new perspective on the story. As the disciples come to Christ in fear and wake them, Christ calms the storm, and then asks them why they were afraid. In the KJV, the words are "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" The point that was emphasized today was that Christ is actually in the boat with the disciples as they were going through this storm. Even though they were skilled sailors who had probably spent their life on this body of water, this storm was so extraordinary that they were afraid, because they forgot who was in the boat with them. It demonstrated a lack of understanding of who Christ is, which you see in the next line, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" They are afraid because they don't know who Christ is. As we know Christ, we fear less. It doesn't protect us from the storms, but He is with us in our trials, and we do not need to be afraid.


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