by Jenifer Nalbandian
Jesus was born into the Roman Empire, yet began His ministry by proclaiming that the Kingdom of God had come (Mark 1:14-15). In Jesus’ day, there was a dichotomy between the Empire and the Kingdom and that dichotomy still exists for us today. We must operate in the Empire, but live by Kingdom principles to be like Christ. This applies to our teaching also: your teaching must be in service to the Kingdom rather than in service to the Empire to be pleasing to God.
The Empire elevates the rich and forgets about the poor, teaching us to seek wealth above all else. The Empire teaches us to be selfish and self-serving, to be ruthless and violent to get what we want, and to oppress the poor and vulnerable in our pursuit of our own pleasure. The Kingdom stands in stark contrast to the Empire though. The Kingdom belongs to the poor and they are called blessed (Luke 6:20). Those who live by Kingdom principles are loving, generous, and merciful, even to their enemies (Luke 6:35). Those in the Kingdom do not take advantage of the vulnerable, but love the vulnerable as they love themselves (Leviticus 19:18,33-34). The Kingdom is based on humbling yourself, rather than exalting yourself over others (Luke 14:7-14).
Every time you interact with your students, you are communicating a message about what they should serve- the Kingdom or the Empire. Are you preaching the Kingdom in the first 5 minutes of class with some Bible verse and devotional and then spending the remaining 55 minutes teaching them tricks on how to get ahead according to the Empire’s standards? For example, do you create an atmosphere of ruthless competition with announcements about exam grades in class? Or do you teach them to love their neighbor by promoting a willingness to help those around them to also succeed?
Students are watching your every move to see how they should think and act when they enter their career one day. They are looking to you to model Kingdom-serving characteristics in your field. Do you expect them to view you as the high authority in your field, where they must bow to your intelligence or else? Do your actions teach them that being heard and respected is more important than listening in humility? Or do you endeavor to selflessly serve your students, despite your position of authority? We all must examine how we think, speak, and act as we carry out these roles of great influence that God has given us.
Pray about ways that you can better reflect Kingdom-serving characteristics on campus. Consider all aspects of your role here at CBU, such as course content and lectures, your posture and tone as you interact with students and colleagues, and the research and scholarship you undertake. Begin making changes today as the Lord leads, knowing that even the small changes you make will have a huge impact on bringing the Kingdom of God here at CBU and on the earth.
Jenifer Nalbandian is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. She serves as a Fellow for the Teaching and Learning Center. Earlier this year, she attended the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Institute on Faith Integration for New Faculty.