Dear APU Community,
As we lean into our vision to become that “city on a hill,” I believe our practice of prayerfully selecting a University Passage serves as a powerful reminder of the foundation of our vision, while affirming the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture. Choosing a passage also draws us together, prompts thoughtful reflection and study, and aligns our planning and organizational endeavors for the next academic year. As you know, each year we emphasize a different cornerstone.
Over the course of the 2011–12 year, we have probed Proverbs 3, which called us to find ways to recognize that wisdom is a gift from God and to discern how to live deeply with the world around us. This text also enabled us to focus on the cornerstone of Scholarship and invited us into the Old Testament.
As we turn now to explore the cornerstone of Service, we were thrilled that so many community members—students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and trustees—participated. Reading the submissions, we felt your enthusiasm and sense of responsibility for selecting a passage that God would have us examine in the next academic year.
When the committee gathered, we prayed first for God’s leading as we considered the rich options before us. We assessed the thoughtful recommendations offered and felt the Spirit moving us to consider passages that turned our attention outward in service to others.
Consensus quickly emerged that James 2 would offer fertile ground for next year. This passage uniquely represents an integrated understanding of our Christian walk consistent with our Wesleyan Holiness heritage and our desire to bring authentic faith to bear in transformational acts of service. The structure of the chapter itself inspires. The first half calls us to respect and honor the dignity of all people. What a great testimony to our commitment to valuing people and relational unity! The second half follows naturally in expressing our faith in actions. I have included the passage below for your convenience.
As always, I look forward to how God uses this sacred text and our response to it to prepare our community for the year ahead. Thank you for your engagement in this process and your willingness to share your reflections.
President Jon R. Wallace, DBA
University Passage 2012–13
James 2 (NRSV)
1My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
8You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.