To be unambiguously Christian means that when the world looks at who you are and how you conduct your life, there is no other explanation for who you are and how you live than that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is the marriage of what you believe with what you do, and what you say that clearly points others to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The institution itself has been built on a foundation of Christian principles. Students can read God’s Word literally embedded in the concrete walking across campus, or have their faith challenged in Chapel, Old and New Testament classes or be supported in their pursuit of Spiritual things at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center. Baylor has created an environment where God is embraced, studied, and celebrated.
We have been in a group of parents praying for their students, where one parent mentions that their student is struggling in adjustment and that they are concerned. Another parent immediately texts their student who is not struggling but lives in the same dorm, and in immediate response and concern, the student goes and makes a new friend. We know stories of students talking through matters of faith, even doubts about beliefs, and together without judgement finding compassionate community in the search for biblical truth. We know of multiple stories of students going to the hospital with a friend who is sick or hurt, and stories of students rising above anxiety through prayer to face the academic or social or athletic challenge they face.
We have also had the opportunity to pray with Dr. Livingstone. As we prayed for the students and for the future of Baylor University, I was struck at just how uniquely blessed Baylor is. Prayers seeking God for direction were flowing from the bottom of the organization up and from the top of the organization down.
God has called us to be different from the world around us. He desires for us to shine, or to illuminate the world around us with His truth, His creativity, and His love. We are not called to fit in; we are called to stand out, to be different. As Christians we are the called to carry the light, hope, truth, and love of Jesus to a world desperately looking for meaning and purpose. This mission will benefit Baylor because doing what we were created to do, being obedient to the call God has placed on our lives—whether individual or corporately—will bring blessing and fulfillment.
One of the biggest challenges in being unambiguously Christian is calling out the best in faculty, staff and students and holding them to the highest standards of integrity and behavior personally and academically while remaining an institution that lives in an environment of grace. At no point will everyone at Baylor be at the same point on their journey with Jesus, and some will not even want a relationship with Jesus. Holding to Christian values as an institution, while allowing students the freedom to solely focus on academic, artistic, professional or athletic excellence is never easy and can at times be confusing.
“We are not called to fit in; we are called to stand out, to be different.”
Living an unambiguously Christian life in every environment is a challenge, and each student will navigate it differently. That is why it is essential that Baylor maintain its institutional commitment to teaching and living by the truth of God’s word in addition to holding to the highest personal and academic standards. Only by living in this challenge can we be the light to the world that we are called to be.
It means that in addition to investing in world-class academics, cutting-edge research, nationally ranked athletic programs, and creating opportunities for students to see the world and change the world around them—that we also must invest in creating an environment where students can pursue Christ with all their hearts, and where they can grow in understanding their identity in Him. We simply cannot forget that “gaining the world” may look like success, but if we “lose our soul” in the process, then we have failed in the worst possible way, and done a huge disservice to the students entrusted to our care and leadership.
Supporting this as parents, we have committed to pray regularly not only for our own children, but also for those in leadership positions in the University as well as the faculty and staff.