Praying hands on a Bible

Our Christian Response

Our Christian Response

A Message from President Randy Roberts

Friends of Western Seminary,

After trying to operate normally as much as possible for as long as possible, we are currently in the midst of a transition to totally online delivery course delivery and remote working for nearly all of our staff (a few of us with essential functions that can’t be done at a distance will still be in the office at least occasionally). 

Thankfully, we have been providing distance education for over thirty years, so we know how to do it well; but the scale currently required will still be new to us. I am confident, however, in our team’s ability to rise to the challenge and in God’s empowering grace. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all learn new ways to do our jobs.

Thank you as well for your prayers and ongoing support. I know these times provide special challenges for everyone. As we all seek to manifest an authentic and distinctively Christian response, perhaps these three principle that I recently shared with my Western colleagues might be of help to you as well.

First, work hard at maintaining a biblical perspective on all of these circumstances. Just as our theology should shape how we grieve loss, so should it shape how we experience other forms of trial. That includes trusting in God’s sovereignty, goodness, wisdom and faithfulness. While at times His providence can be perplexing, we should never lose trust in His character and control over His creation.

We also recognize that He often accomplishes important things through trials that wouldn’t be accomplished otherwise. People become more aware of their mortality, more open to spiritual things, more humbled by what they can and can’t control, etc. Not only does this produce a strategic window for evangelism, it also can stimulate Christians to take their faith more seriously; for sometimes our response to trials reveal disconcerting gaps between what we say we believe and what we actually appear to believe.

Second, and flowing from the above, watch for and redeem opportunities to further God’s redemptive purposes. History testifies that faithful Christian responses to large-scale challenges such as pandemics stand out even more starkly when compared to panic and/or self-centered behavior. So this is a great opportunity to reflect upon what Christ-like neighbor love looks like in this context, respecting the need to be sensitive about possible virus spread while also recognizing that loving concern can still be expressed creatively to others while so doing.

This is also an opportunity to cultivate in additional ways your own walk with the Lord. I recently read an article in a British paper co-authored by the Archbishop of Canterbury; he recommends reciting the Lord’s Prayer while we are washing our hands rather than just counting to 20. That is just one example of how we can intentionally redeem our circumstances to further God’s work of renewal in our own hearts.

Third, all indications suggest that we are likely going to need to shift to a “new normal” for an extended period of time. Thus, it would be unrealistic to expect a return to normal in just a couple of weeks. As we form new habits, moreover, we might discover new ways of doing things that will will enrich our ministry and personal discipleship in the days to come.

The past couple of weeks have highlighted how fluid circumstances can be, so we will continue to monitor the environment and make further adjustments as deemed necessary. We are in unfamiliar territory to be sure, so we want to be patient with civil officials as they seek to guide us. But we can be especially grateful that we ultimately serve the King of Kings whose infinite wisdom and power provide a strong and unchanging foundation for both our hope and our devotion. So let’s engage together the current challenges and opportunities in the spirit of Matt. 6:31-34.

Yours in Christ’s service,

President Randy Roberts Signature
Randy Roberts, DMin