The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. (Hebrews 11:1, The Message)
Many who follow a path of belief or faith do so out of an obligation—to family, to community, to a belief system that drives their piety and defines their moral character. These people walk out a set of principles or mores.
Religion is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
For others, a path of belief or faith is based on a relational context. The purpose or goal is to deepen a relationship, to live out a life of connection; the path is one of intimate union, of friendship, of fidelity, of sodality, of experiential growth.
The difference is of perspective; as opposed to defining oneself as within a boundary – saved, sanctified, religious – the picture is one of central tendency. In all matters of existence, where are you pointed and how fast are you going in that direction?
For many, the center is Jesus. The purpose is to learn as much about what He is about and what He is doing as possible, and then join Him in that life.
This perspective lends itself easily to questions of integration, issues of application or how one lives out what they believe.
If the path is defined less by what fits within the boundary and more on who I know and how our relationship is growing, then matters of faith are easily brought up, organically interwoven into any aspect of work, teaching or learning.
Have an issue with student conduct in class? Pray, then find ways to recognize the individuals within the whole; speak to the need for the relational context of the classroom to be met, empower the creative aspect of created beings, kill the old man of petty ignorance and resurrect the new man of mutual understanding.
Even more practical would be the simple idea of regularly praying for those around you who are ill. You may see a miracle. A student may be healed of an actual illness or may be healed of a bitter, lazy soul that is crying out for connection and stimulation.
Being pious and religious may be of benefit to promoting the stagnation of classical models of academia and matters of faith.
Instead, why not try actually living out an actual relationship in the actual world you live and work in?
Break out of the bounds and run to your center.
At Grand Canyon University, we have an interdenominational institution that incorporates our Christian worldview into everything we do. Want to learn more? Check out our website.
More about Ben:
Ben VanDerLinden grew up in Phoenix. He attended grade school through college within a mile of his home. He left the area to go to Tucson for grad school. Ben holds a BS and an MS in mathematics, and has taught at the community college/university level for almost 20 years. Ben has been married for 15 years, and had three anniversaries in that time. He has no kids, but does have a 20-year-old cat. Ben loves movies, pastoring skeptics and teaching math/psych. He is a self-proclaimed foodie and coffee snob; however, he still drinks church coffee and eats Five Guys on occasion.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.