Enjoying the sun, feeling the breeze as you stand with so many others in the marketplace. Some speak of the weather, some of products and services, others of religion, still others of family joys … and struggles. Then, you hear it: the murmur announcing the arrival of a high-ranking government official. Peering down the street, you realize it’s not just any government official; it’s the one who hates you, your values, and all like you. Eyes dropping, you feel your stomach tighten as your pulse begins to race. You know what’s expected. But, you also know you will not bow. Knowing imprisonment or at least beating will likely follow, your devotion-forged conviction, like shafts of steel in your spine, will not allow bowing except before God, the one true God.
He gets closer … and closer. All around you bow. Some look up at you in fear. Friends and colleagues, terror in their eyes, silently plead with you to follow suit, to not draw attention, to go along, to not cause trouble –some with the best intentions out of affection for you. Do you bow? He approaches. From the distance, your eyes meet. As you stand, his anger festers. The breeze hits the sweat now running down your back, heart racing … pain is coming. But, still, even as he descends from his ornate litter and approaches on foot, there you stand. Why? Because it’s right. Because it’s what God does. Because others need to see a stand for God and his ways. Others need to see that it is possible and how to do it.
Mordecai stood at whatever cost Haman could inflict. As time went on, he encouraged Esther to stand for what is right. By then, I’m sure all heard of Mordecai’s stance, Queen Esther included. As he encouraged her in wisdom and boldness, I’m sure there was an additional weight and security in his words having come from a place of standing amidst tyranny himself. Sometimes I wonder if Esther could have, would have stood if Mordecai did not stand first. Too often, we underestimate the power of our stand for the Truth and the need to train and empower others to do so. So, how might this look in your class?
One place could be our discussions or other written assignments. Instead of the typical prompt, why not frame the topic(s) as a “problem” having a specific audience. For example:
History/Political Science/Law, etc.—“Imagine you are a witness in legal precedents regarding historic and/or civil understandings of marriage and any inherent social benefits of traditional marriage. What cases and benefits would you cite and why? What objections do you anticipate (have at least 2) and how do you address those in your response?”
Coaching/Sports Ministry/Sociology, etc.—“You were chosen to draft the initial response to the NAIA regarding harmful ramifications for women if males are allowed athletic access to women’s teams, facilities, scholarships, etc. under Title IX. You have 500 words. What do you say? Briefly address a couple of popular objections within your statement.”
General—“A close friend emails asking about issues regarding sexual immorality (chose either sex before or outside of marriage, or an LGBT issue). Your friend asks what the Bible says, wants to understand why God would say such things, and how are those things “loving.” Also in the conversation is the issue of legality and any effect on others. Respond to your friend. Write it as you really would, don’t worry about formal mechanics.”
These are just examples of current hot topics. Others topics could include anything from tariffs and taxes, to gun control and surveillance measures, to classroom management and research ethics, etc. Think about your courses. What issues are present in your field that require a prepared stance? What current hot topics are there at large for which your subject matter would be of assistance? Before which audiences can we help students practice standing, colleagues, authorities, friends, family, strangers, etc.? Is role-playing both sides in dialogue appropriate for a given assignment? How can we help them learn to stand?
I would offer that such an approach may well foster both a glimpse at the possibility of standing for Jesus in a hostile culture as well as spark a desire to research more on one’s own to get at what the truth is and how to present it. Let’s both model a strong stand and empower the faithful … and maybe even challenge the assumptions of those in our courses who are standing in opposition to the truth (though they may not even know it). As professors, we may have the awesome privilege of being a Mordecai for the coming generation of the faithful. Only by standing for God and His truth before culture can we help culture to bow before the God who is Truth.