Baccalaureate Features Dr. Jehu Hanciles
A service of worship and commitment recognizes this year’s graduates
Fuller’s graduating class of 2010 was honored on Wednesday, June 2, in a special Baccalaureate service held at the First Congregational Church of Pasadena, featuring a sermon delivered by Jehu Hanciles, associate professor of history of Christianity and globalization and director of the Center for Missiological Research (CMR).
In his message, entitled “Fulfilling His Promise” and based on Philippians 1:3-12 and 1 Kings 19:19-21, Dr. Hanciles observed that there has been a “subtle but profound shift in understanding Christian service in the past decade.” Now, more than ever, there is an unspoken yet prevalent view of Christian ministry as one more option for a safe, stable career. The celebrity worship of the Western world even tempts some to believe such a career may lead to fame and fortune.
However, Hanciles pointed out that while financial security is important, “the heart of Christian service is God’s promise, which is not only to the individual but to the whole worldwide church in every age.” Using the two passages selected for his message and the examples of the prophet Elisha and the apostle Paul, Hanciles explained that the two requirements for full-time ministry are counting on God’s presence and understanding God’s purpose.
“Elisha was called to full-time ministry in one of the darkest times in Israel’s history,” he stated, but the prophet responded to his call “with alacrity and unquestioning obedience.” Despite the danger of his call, Elisha immediately abandoned his livelihood and removed any possibility of his return. “Elisha must have known that full-time ministry is not for the faint of heart, but he counted on God’s presence,” noted Hanciles.
Addressing the graduates, he said, “You may find the challenges confronting the church today to be more complex and foreboding than you first thought.” But, he assured, “There is one promise that you can count on: God will be with us till the very end.”
Turning next to Philippians 1:3-12, Hanciles compared the apostle Paul to the prophet Elisha, pointing out that they both carried out purposes that were originally commissioned to their predecessors. “Neither was given an original, customized promise,” he observed, reminding his listeners that their call is also shared. “It is time to recognize the possibility that our own understanding of God’s purpose is still too limited,” said Hanciles, warning that those preoccupied with their own ministry agendas are often blinded to the Holy Spirit’s global activity. He emphasized the importance of remembering that God’s promise and calling is never just for one individual, one family, or one country, but for the whole church.
“In the final analysis, the promise is always bigger than your prospects,” said Hanciles in his closing remarks. “As all of us live faithful to the fulfillment of God’s promises for the world, we can count on his blessings.”
The Baccalaureate service was followed by a reception in the Garth honoring this year’s graduates, sponsored by Fuller’s Office of Alumni/ae and Church Relations.