Posted by David Warkentin on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
This week is also Holy Week. For Christians, this is a time of religious observance and intentional reflection on the center of our faith - the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Spiritually, this is an important week.
Exam week and Holy Week - a collision of mind and spirit that as a Christian academic institution can make for a somewhat scattered experience. How does one dutifully engage exam week and faithfully observe Holy Week, at the same time?
I’ve been reading through Matthew’s account of Jesus in Jerusalem. Following the misplaced “hosanna’s” of Palm Sunday, I’ve been struck by the engaging interactions Jesus has with the religious elites in Jerusalem. I even thought of how I could justify exams during Holy Week, after all, Jesus repeatedly puts the religious leaders to the test in Jerusalem (e.g. Theology101: “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” - Mt. 21:25). But then I realized that’s a bit of a stretch (who’s Jesus? who’s the Pharisees?).
I also thought about how the narrative displays an anti-institutional tone. Forget exams and get on with the priorities of faithfully following Jesus! But I hesitate to equate a 21st-century Bible college with the 1st-century Temple institution. Plus, Columbia Bible College exists to make disciples. Oh, and I want to keep my job.
In looking at the narrative, I actually can’t find justification for only study or only worship. But I do find a reason to justify both. A passage we hear about many times related to many different topics, but one which is somehow absent in my experience of Holy Week, comes right in the middle of Jesus’s time in Jerusalem. In the midst of exam week and Holy Week, I came across 48 very important words:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Mt. 22:27-40 NIV).
Instead of attempting to justify certain areas of life and faith over others, we’re reminded that the good news of Jesus - culminating in Easter - is the presence of God’s peace and wholeness in all areas of life - mind, soul, heart, relationships. Academics and worship together. Exam week and Holy Week together.
Sometimes we just need 48 very important words to remind us.