Convocation Remarks 2007
Fleetwood Mac exhorted us all plainly. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” Well, okay. And politicians consistently tell us that they want to be elected so that they can build a bridge to the future—as though we could go anywhere else, whether we build that bridge or not. But behind these bromides is a serious point that men have to try to address. As God’s creatures, we occupy space and we live in time. As those who live in time, we need to develop a solid and biblical theology of the future.
We need a theology of time (which includes a theology of the future) because we are not here simply to mark time. If God has given us resources and opportunities, as He most certainly has, it is not safe or right to bury them in the ground, hoping to give them back to God interest-free. People who do that think that God is a hard master. And by a theology of time and history, I mean more than an optimistic eschatology, although that is an important component of what I mean.
What happens in time? Among other things crops grow to the harvest. Money matures with interest. Children grow to adulthood. Institutions grow and mature. But it is also true that crops fail and wither. Money disappears in stock collapses. Children can get stuck in perpetual adolescence. So in all true growth, it is necessary to cross new thresholds periodically. To stop growing is to die, whether the death happens that very instant or not.
This year marks the beginning of graduate studies at New St. Andrews, and this is happening for this reason. Are we in over our heads? We confess it. Are we doing what cannot succeed unless God blesses it in His grace? We acknowledge that as well. What else is new?
There is no appreciable difference between ceasing to swim up the river, and floating down the river. Faithfulness is always to be found in the next thing. Put another way, faithfulness is in the future.
“Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one. But all he said out loud was: ‘Where is the King?'”
This should not be taken as the cynic would take it—no good deed goes unpunished—but it does help to explain why we are here. The carnal heart wants to do a certain number of good deeds, get them safely in the bank, and then trust in that bank. But the just will live by faith, and hope that is seen is no hope at all, as the apostle teaches in the 8th of Romans. Hope that is well in hand is not hope.
In the task of bringing the entire world to submit to the kindness of Christ’s authority, His easy and light yoke, there is much work to be done—is there not? And in order to accomplish that work, we must be oriented to the future, set on the next thing. Our desire this moment is to be faithful today and tomorrow, not yesterday and today.
This means a graduate program. That is what it means in today’s tomorrow. Not next year’s tomorrow, or the next generation’s. We are here today, on the threshold of a new year for all our students, the threshold of a new station of life for our freshmen, and a new grad program for our stalwart volunteers. We are here because we want to be faithful to the Lord Jesus, and because Jesus is the Lord of all things. And if He is the Lord of all things, then He is the Lord of tomorrow morning.