In possibly the first-ever OBU chapel service to combine a history on Charles Spurgeon with the artistry of a rapper, Dr. Christian George spoke to a packed crowd of students to offer a theme interpretation for the 2012-13 chapel series on "The Psalms."
George, who serves as the Jewell and Joe L. Huitt assistant professor of religious education, presented the message during the weekly chapel service Wednesday, Sept. 5, in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium. During the current academic year, students will hear a variety of speakers bring messages on the theme, "The Psalms," with "The Treasury of David" by Spurgeon as a resource for the study.
For chapel messages, follow this link.
Speaking on the topic, "The Psalms and C.H. Spurgeon," George offered insight into Spurgeon as a prolific 19th-century preacher and author. Spurgeon, he said, faced real-life frustrations including poor-health issues and media criticism while developing a deep, lifelong love for God.
George played a video by Christian rapper Shai Linne.
"One reason we've selected Spurgeon as the theme this year in chapel is because Spurgeon's faith went in three primary directions," George said. "It went up, theologically; it went in, spiritually; and then it went out, missionally."
A person's faith goes "up" when, as stated in Colossians 3:2, a person sets their mind on God, George said. He told the students that just because the tomb of Jesus is empty, students' minds don't have to be empty also. He said to be a theologian, students don't need a beard, or a library, or a Ph.D. He said any person who studies God is a theologian, because theology is the study of God.
In addition to going "up," Christian faith also goes "in," George said.
"The inward component of Christianity speaks to the spiritual disciplines that suck us into the white-hot presence of God," he said.
George asked students to suggest such spiritual disciplines, and their answers included prayer, fasting and reading. While affirming those answers, George also noted spiritual disciplines can include art, journaling and music. In fact, George said, any moment can be a "God" moment, as long as God shows up: sitting in class and taking notes, playing ping-pong into the wee hours of the morning, or even eating a barbecue sandwich.
"Spurgeon also embodied a faith that went horizontally," George said. "It went out. The outward component of the Christian faith is what happens when what you know fuses with what you feel, to influence what you do, which shapes who you are. It's what happens when your faith is grounded in real life-and-blood community."
Reading Psalm 63, George noted the words of the psalmist, David, as he declares his love for God, as in verse 1: "Earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you." Much like the psalmist, Spurgeon's life exhibited a craving to know God.
"Our psalmist has a serious God addiction," George said. "He can't stop thinking about (God). He can't stop speaking about him."
In Psalm 63:4, the psalmist writes: "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." George told the students the psalmist's response was akin to lifting one's hands and saying, "Hallelujah," a Hebrew word meaning "to raise to God."
"Spurgeon was all about 'hallelujah,'" George said. "One of the things Spurgeon discovered was that, oftentimes, our greatest 'hallelujah' -- our greatest adoration -- emerges not on the mountaintop, but in the valleys, in the difficult areas of our lives."
If Spurgeon presented a modern-day chapel message, George said, he would provide both a word of challenge and a word of encouragement to OBU students. Spurgeon would challenge the OBU community to keep its theology, spirituality and mission together to maintain a necessary life balance.
In encouragement, George said, he believes Spurgeon would remind OBU students that they are not ultimately defined by what they do, mistakes they have made, degrees they earn, careers they choose or other actions.
"Spurgeon would remind us that, 'You are not defined by what you do, but, ultimately, by who you are," George said. "And who are you, students? You are none other than the priceless beloved of God."
George told the students it is no small adventure to be addicted to God. He challenged students to determine not only, "What am I willing to die for?" but, more importantly, "What am I willing to live for?" Only when Jesus Christ is in the center of their lives, he said, will their lives be ultimately centered.