September 16, 2010
When Jeff Lewis moved his family to Norman, Okla., 15 years ago, he said it didn’t make any sense. As an independent contractor for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, Lewis was capable of going anywhere in the world. But God had other plans.
Three weeks after relocating to Oklahoma, Lewis was asked to adjunct teach at OBU. It was the fall of 1996, and Lewis saw how the students on campus were active in their Christian faith.
“That totally, radically changed my life, ministry and perspective,” he said. “What those students did was capture the vision that they had been liberated from the slavery of living for self, so that they might live for Christ.”
Lewis now serves at California Baptist University as assistant professor of intercultural studies and director of the university’s global center. He shared with OBU students in the second of three chapel services as part of GO Week at OBU Sept. 13-17. GO Week acts as a catalyst to mobilize students to engage in mission endeavors.
Lewis focused on 2 Corinthians 5. He noted that verse 17 is attention-getting when it says, “Therefore if anybody is in Christ, they are a new creation. Behold, the old has passed away, the new has come.” He said Christians embrace the verse and get excited about the thought of being new. But, he questioned, “do we really understand the purpose of that transforming work of Jesus Christ?”
He said the context of these verses explain that Christians have been liberated from the slavery of sin for a purpose, as noted in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “For He died for all, that those who live … might no longer live for themselves.” Christians are commanded to do the work of God. Each person who follows Jesus is called to this work, as revealed in 2 Corinthians 5:20, which charges that all Christians are ambassadors for Christ.
Lewis told students not only does Scripture tell Christians they are ambassadors, but it also articulates how believers are to fulfill that God-given role. He read from 2 Corinthians 5:18, “As ambassadors of Christ, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. As God has reconciled us to himself and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” He explained Christians have been entrusted with sharing the message of Christ.
Students do not have to travel to a distant country to fulfill Christ’s calling, Lewis said, but instead should daily live for Christ regardless of their location. He said the education they receive at college, whether in business or education, prepares them for this purpose.
This message of reconciliation, he said, is fulfilled through “marketable gifting, through our skill sets, through how God has gifted you.” The reason God brought this group of students to OBU is to nurture a God-given skill set, Lewis said, and professors teach students so they can gain knowledge and understanding to apply their individual gifts in the world.
“What’s the motivation?” Lewis asked the students. The answer, he said, is simple: “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Lewis urged students to consider the motivation for living for Christ and engaging the world. The motivation, he said, is God’s glory, as found in Psalm 46:10, which reads, “Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted among the nations and I will be exalted among the earth.”