We are here because we were called here in the providence of God. What has drawn us is the call of the gospel. The calling of ministry centered in the glory of God has drawn us here. Our seminary is among some of the great cathedrals of learning in the world. It is important that we realize we are not the first, but in a long line of scholars. We honor this tradition and commitment.
Gathered here is a faculty who are simultaneously learners. Gathered here in this place are students called by God to ministry. We are reminded of the stewardship of our calling today.
We must not believe in the illusion of the safety in which we gather. This campus does not look so dangerous. There is nothing tangible that would cause us to think otherwise. If we think like this, we are wrong.
This is not a safe place, world or hour. We are beginning a year of living dangerously. We should see, embrace and be the danger for the glory of God.
See the Danger
We should first see the danger. Christ sent us as sheep among wolves. It is not a physical army that we are in battle with. It is against the rulers and powers of darkness (Eph. 6). How much more dangerous can it get than that?
There is an army that will defeat us! It will draw us from Christ. We will replace what we ought to love with what we ought not to love if we are not careful. The apostle Paul said that we are in a deadly and dangerous business. We are surrounded by a great host of enemies—the gospel has enemies! God has enemies.
We need to recognize the disharmony because there is rebellion against God. Christian Discipleship is inherently dangerous. Christ said come follow me and it was in a sense a call to safety. However, it does not mean physical safety.
Do not be as undiscerning as the Corinthians. They boasted for themselves. Paul boasted in the discipleship of becoming more like Christ. Paul’s authenticity of his role as an apostle and Christian is demonstrated in his pain and sufferings (2 Corinthians 11). Paul survived being stoned…you are not supposed to do that. We must see the dangers.
It seems as if danger is a mark of one who is called as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is important for us here today. Danger is our business. We need to see the danger. It is to our peril that we ignore it and our confusion that we do not see it. If we are faithful, this is a year of living dangerously.
Embrace the Danger
Secondly, we need to embrace our danger. If we conceive of the Christian ministry as a profession, we are seeking safety. A profession is safe. Professionals are not supposed to be in danger. They have credentials. The moment you put the certificate on the wall saying you are a minister of the gospel, you have created a target.
Oft times, a minister’s credentials are written in blood, not ink. The ministry is not a profession. We look like professionals gathered into this room right now. The world believes these are smart people—look at what they are wearing. We can dress ourselves up to look professional, but the ministry is not professional.
We are not members of a guild or union. We ought not to seek security or status, recognition or worldly respect. We must be willing to forfeit all of these. Millions have forfeited their lives for the gospel. We are safe…in terms of our eternal salvation in the arms of God. We don’t ever think of God writing His glory with our blood. Faith unto death is for all times and not just for the early church fathers.
It feels safe for the moment, but that could change at any moment. We must embrace the danger. The Navy Seals have a philosophy that does just this. A Christian’s philosophy should be similar to that of the Navy Seals. A minister’s words should be as urgent as those of the Seals.
We should embrace the danger because it is central to our calling. We are to take up our own cross. The only security we can proclaim is that which is proclaimed in the gospel—our security in Christ. We should embrace the danger because we embrace a risen Lord. We embrace the danger because we dare not be ashamed. Think of Hebrews 11, especially verses 32 and following. Do we really believe we deserve better than them?
We should expect that the risk will be the greatest where the gospel is being proclaimed. What if our default was to go rather than stay? What if our default was to say now and not later? I invite you to go and find a place to go and be dangerous.
We should follow the examples of Jim Elliot and William Carey. Are we willing to go and die? This is most apparent in missions because this is where, in the history of the church, we need the most encouragement.
Louisville, KY, ought to be a different place because this seminary is here. We need some to risk the danger of the recovery and reclamation of churches. We need many in your generation to be brave enough where you will preach the gospel in a church where it has not been preached. It is here and now as well as there and later.
You can risk more as a single student than you can later as a married student. I wish I would have taken more risks when I was a student. You can go now.
Be the Danger
We have produced very few dangerous looking Christians. I want to be a dangerous looking institution. I want the world to be frightened of this institution because of who Christ is. We need to be dangerous…in the pulpit. The gospel is dangerous.
There ought to be the dangerous pushing back against the darkness of evil. Wherever we are, we ought to be dangerous. We need to be serious in our task for the furtherance of the gospel. We need to refuse to be shaken.
We need to look and be dangerous. Now not just later. Here not just there. We need to be embarrassed for not being so dangerous. We need to be embarrassed to say merely I supported or knew dangerous people. We need to be dangerous.
Let us serve in a dangerous way. Let us be accursed, if on that Day, we were not there when things got dangerous.