By Loretta Fulton
The ACU Alumni Chorus and Landon Saunders set the bar high Sunday night for the opening of Summit 2017, the 111th edition of the event known for years as Bible Lectureship.
Summit, or “Lectureship” as some of the longtime attendees might be tempted to call it, will feature two and a half days of worship, fellowship, classes, and entertainment. Guests who attended the kickoff events Sunday night at University Church of Christ will have high expectations for the rest of Summit, following a concert of rousing, inspiring music from the chorus and a rousing, inspiring sermon from Saunders, former minister at Highland Church of Christ and founder of Heartbeat Ministries.
“It is an honor for me,” Saunders said, “and a tremendous blessing to come back here.”
Theme for Summit 2017 is “Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve,” based on passages from Deuteronomy. For a lineup of classes, worship sessions, and other events this week, go to www.acu.edu/summit
We are living in an uneasy time, Saunders said, and some have chosen to give up and drop out. The passages from Deuteronomy put that into perspective. Moses, “one of the leading characters” of the story, tried to get the Israelites to focus on what was really important–who they were and why they had been chosen to show the world what it means to be a human being. Others would look at them and say, “Surely, this nation is wise and discerning.”
But they wandered for 40 years, forgetting who they were and forgetting why they were in the world. Then, Saunders said, prophetic voices rose and reminded them of what was important–mercy, justice, faith, love.
“These are the highest of human ideals,” Saunders said.
For Christians, Jesus embodies those ideals, showing the world that, “This is how to be a human being that God created.”
Today, the church is facing issues that “challenge the very core of who we are,” Saunders said, issues like civil rights, LGBT or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, terrorism, and extremism.
“Sometimes they bring out our best,” Saunders said, “sometimes our worst.”
The Bible contains 31,000 verses, Saunders said, and unfortunately differences over how to interpret and practice them leads to endless arguments. But taken as a whole, those verses urge people to focus on justice, mercy, humility, faith, love, just like Moses urged the Israelites to do.
In the time of Jesus, religious leaders argued over scripture, too. But Jesus made it easy for us by granting permission to change our minds about our interpretation. He also granted permission to reduce the 31,000 verses to two–love God and love your neighbor.
And, Saunders said, Jesus grants us permission to see the human being standing in front of us as we read and perceive scripture.
Reading scripture is not just about reading the letter of the law, Saunders said.
“It’s also about reading the human heart,” Saunders said, and urged using scripture “for human beings, not against them.”