When we pursue truth, virtue and service as loving God, our pursuits are acts of worship.
At Vanguard University of Southern California, our motto is “Truth, Virtue, and Service.” It is aligned with what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, NKJV).
Truth is pursued and pondered in the life of the mind. Virtue is developed and flows from the heart and soul. Service is truth and virtue lived out with extended hands in service.
We don’t choose to love God with our heads or hearts or hands in some tripartite devotion. It’s all three—integrated, undivided, seamless. When we pursue truth, virtue and service as loving God, our pursuits become acts of worship.
At a Christian university, we place great emphasis on loving God with our minds. Because this is our act of worship, we seek insight from the source of all knowledge and wisdom, whether preparing a manuscript for publication or a paper for class or a lab report or a performance. And in doing so we love God with our minds, which makes our classrooms and labs and athletic fields and stages as sacred as our chapels.
But loving God with only our minds can be dangerous. The Pharisees were the most biblically literate of the day. They believed they alone heard from God and understood His ways. They knew all the prophecies and promises of the Messiah and then not only failed to recognize Him in their midst but also crucified Him. To love God only with our minds can lead to arrogance and self-righteousness.
We must also love God with our hearts and souls—fully, passionately. No one has expressed it more eloquently than St. Augustine in his Confessions: “Too late have I loved thee, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new. Too late have I loved Thee! … I tasted, and now I hunger for you.” Or more accurately: “You awake us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
But beware. There is an equal danger when we love God with only our emotions and passions. Then we can be easily led astray, and the truth of the Word becomes just another book of wisdom among many acceptable alternatives.
While waiting for a flight, I wandered into an airport bookstore and found displayed on their recommended reading table two fine Christian books. One was Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland’s Jesus Under Fire and the other DC Talk’s Live Like a Jesus Freak.
But these two books were sandwiched between The Toltec Way: A Guide to Personal Transformation. The back cover of the Toltec Way promised: “The gift of Toltec wisdom is the ability to find your own essence and in turn to experience yourself as the creator of your life.”
The danger in loving God without our minds engaged is that we won’t be able to discern between Toltec wisdom and the real words of life that reside not in finding ourselves, but in losing ourselves, dying in order to find life. As we continue to open our minds and hearts to Him and to His Word, as we pursue excellence because we desire to offer Him our best service, we will find His mercies are new every day and that He is always faithful.
He will be faithful in the halls and classrooms of academia, in graduate studies at secular research institutions and medical schools, in clinics and research labs and hospitals, in secular classrooms, in professional sporting arenas, in accounting firms and corporate board rooms, in churches, in pulpits, in performance halls and art galleries, in media and news rooms, in political arenas and courthouses, from Los Angeles to New York and around the globe as we feed the hungry, care for the orphans, and translate His good news to all the peoples of the earth through our lives. He will be faithful in our homes and in our relationships and finally at our gravesides.
We will find that His great love will pursue us; hold us; restore us; grant us knowledge and wisdom and insight; and fit us for service. We will find He is faithful today and tomorrow and for all eternity.
How then can we not love him fully, passionately—head, heart and hands?
CAROL TAYLOR, PH.D., is the president of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif.