Christina Boyum – 2019 Commencement Student Testimony


Undergraduate Commencement Student Testimony

Christina Boyum | Bethlehem College & Seminary 2019

We’ve made it. After fifty-one papers and forty to sixty thousand pages of reading, we have earned our Bachelor of Arts from Bethlehem College and Seminary.  And Bethlehem has changed us. We’ve encouraged one another when we felt like we didn’t have the brainpower to write another sentence. We’ve wrestled with texts that discipled us, mirroring the twists and turns of our own hearts. We’ve learned to define words like “invective” and “anachronism”—and, maybe, to tell the difference between the two. We’ve served in ministry together. We’ve walked through depression, confessed sins, and prayed for each other. We’ve rejoiced in marriages and several imminent births. We are different people than we were four years ago when we walked through these doors—and that’s primarily because Bethlehem is a different kind of school.

What makes our school unique? I would summarize the most important distinctive of our education this way: words point. Words point. What do I mean by that? I mean that we’ve been trained to read words carefully, precisely, and fairly. We’ve been trained to feel and apply them wisely. We’ve been trained to write winsomely. But the central idea of our education goes beyond our speech to our speech’s ultimate object and source. There is a great Reality behind the words: the perfect, loving, glorious Trinity. All things were created through him and for him. The best education falls short if it produces correct students who miss God, but at Bethlehem, the sunbeams have drawn our eyes up and in to the glory of the Sun. Whether we’ve sought the good, true, and beautiful in a paragraph of Milton or confessed the mystery of Christ from the Chalcedonian Creed, we’ve seen that God is the goal. Our words point.

Tonight I want to reflect on four ways that this education—words pointing to God—has prepared us to be sent out from Bethlehem. They are courage, growth, prayer, and proclamation. Classmates, as we go out from here, let’s strive to embody these four characteristics.

First, courage. As we study the Word and the world on our own—outside our professors’ watchful guidance—we remember that God makes knowledge possible. Not them. Not us. We needn’t doubt that we will find truth. We can think carefully, reverently, and joyfully, because we think in the presence of Christ, by his Spirit, and under the Father’s loving providence. Therefore we may take courage, confident in the God who reveals truth.

Second, growth. We are, to some extent, experiential second-handers right now. Our experience hasn’t quite caught up with our theology. But when it does—when trials come and doctrines become precious and lived—we will see that our hearts have come to trust not in our wisdom but in our sovereign God. He is faithful. The One whom we confess will grow us up into our confession.

Third, prayer. It’s possible to love the beauty of theology or literature without loving the God who creates it. Prayer unites both loves. Our professors have modeled this for us every day, turning third-person observation into second-person adoration. As we move on to business or preaching or parenting, let’s be a people on our knees before the One who is himself Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.

Fourth and finally, proclamation. We have seen glories here at Bethlehem. Words have given us glimpses of a God who is infinitely bigger than we can speak, who has purchased us by his blood, and who is our dearest treasure! Joy delights to be shared. So as a mechanic or a mother, a theologian or an editor—from Scotland to France, from Uzbekistan to Oregon—let’s proclaim the joy we’ve found to all nations.

To sum up: what does it mean for us to enter our vocations with an education that points to God? It means that we will take courage and keep thinking in his presence. It means that we will face big trials with trust in our bigger God. It means that we will pray the truths we confess. It means that we will herald God by every word and deed, for his glory and for the joy of all peoples in Jesus Christ. Our God is faithful; he will surely do this.