United States Senator James Lankford addressed OBU's chapel service Wednesday, April 8. Lankford spoke during the annual Hyde Park Chapel, when candidates for 2015-16 student-elected school and class officer positions introduced themselves to the student body.
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"We do not realize how unique we really are as an American culture," Lankford said. "The freedoms that we have of faith; the freedoms that we have to speak. We don't realize what we have."
"America began around faith and was engaged with a people that had a solid belief," he said. "For people who really want to impact culture, for those who really want to make a difference, the question is, how do you do that?"
Lankford spoke about Jesus's disciples and the simple statement, "Come, follow me." He related that to the lives of modern Christians. "If your life is going to count, you have to begin with this simple belief as a Christian: that my responsibility is not to know the next occupation, but my responsibility is to know who I'm going to follow today."
Lankford examined 1 Peter 2:11 and the ensuing verses, detailing how to stand out in culture and live a godly life among an ungodly culture. He challenged all Christians to live their lives in a way that leaves open the opportunity for ministry.
"For each of us, we make a decision," he said. "Will our lives be consumed with 1 Peter 2:11? Is my task to live such a good life that I can set the example, so that people will come to know Christ?"
"Can we as Christians honor authority, even when we disagree, in a way that still leaves the opportunity open for ministry? I believe not only that we can, I believe that we must," he said. "If we're going to make a difference, one of the ways we're going to do that is to set the example for how we handle authority. When we do that, I assure you, we stand out as people that live life differently."
"In every place where you lead, you will also be a person under authority, and how you handle authority at that moment will give you the opportunity for ministry, or you'll lose it."
"This is a moment where we need Christian voices in every aspect of our culture, to speak with clarity but to not speak with arrogance, and to speak in such a way that leaves open the opportunity for ministry," he said. "Whatever field, whatever place, whatever continent God lands you on, I pray that when you get there, you fulfill what God has called you to do from first Peter chapter two. Live such good lives there, that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may actually see your good deeds and glorify God on the day that He visits us. You have a mission. I pray that you will fulfill it God's way."
Prior to his time in Congress, Lankford served as director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp and director of student ministry at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma from 1995 to 2009. Falls Creek is the largest youth camp in the United States, with more than 51,000 students and adults attending each summer. He left that position upon being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After serving four years in the house, he was elected to the U.S. Senate Nov. 4, 2014, to finish the remaining two years of retiring Senator Tom Coburn's term.
Hyde Park Day was instituted at the university in 1958 after Dr. John W. Raley, then OBU president, visited Hyde Park in London, England. At "Speakers' Corner" in Hyde Park, anyone may set up a soap box and lecture on any topic. Spectators then are allowed to question the speaker. When the event started at OBU, based on the idea of free oratory, SGA candidates would gather in the Quadrangle on campus, set up "political booths" and vie for students' votes.