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USW as a Matthew 25 University

Last Sunday my wife preached about the First Presbyterian Church of Hobbs and the Presbytery it belongs to taking the step of taking Matthew 25 more seriously. I think it was one of her best sermons.

Matthew 25, verses 31-46 is probably one of the more familiar passages in the Bible. Unfortunately, I think it is one that Leo Tolstoy might say sounds really good but not too many Christians seem to bother themselves with in any great measure. Tolstoy was the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina who once said that Christianity sounded like a great idea that maybe we should try some time, or words to that effect. As much as I hate to admit, he probably was right to a large extent, and although Caryn did not mention any Russian writers in her sermon, she did emphasize the high bar that Matthew 25 calls us to.

Matthew 25 reminds us when Christ returns to judge the world he will separate the sheep from the goats. The former will go to heaven and the latter to the other place. It will be the blessed who ascend because they chose to feed, clothe, and visit the least among us as if we were doing so directly for Christ had he presented us with the same needs. Yet as Caryn pointed out Sunday, many Christians seem too busy focusing on the choices people make (and the blame that goes with that) that leave themselves vulnerable to hunger, homelessness, sickness, and incarceration than how God would have us tend to their needs.

Sitting in the pew Sunday I squirmed like everyone else who heard the message. And while I am glad that our church has decided to officially pursue a more deliberate and dedicated path to Christ’s call on our lives it made me wonder about how the only Christian University in New Mexico was living up to that foundational call.

While we can never rest on our laurels and there always is more that we can do, just looking at some of my past blogs and events that I have known about but not publicized help me think that USW is on the right path. In a typical non-Covid year our student-athletes have loaded food trucks for the hungry, built houses for Habitat, and engaged with the medical community to promote careers in the health professions (many of our students ultimately go into jobs in nursing, medicine, and healthcare that directly impact those who are ill). USW faculty, staff, and administrators have been instrumental in bringing Christian education to the prisoners at the Lea County Correctional facility, in addition to directly going inside to minister to inmates on a regular basis.

I know that this year has imposed some difficult restrictions on how we normally operate to demonstrate our mission of servant leadership in our community but it makes me all the more eager to see us return to normalcy in the fall. I am proud of our campus community and how they have met this year’s challenges and I can’t wait for us to fully engage in the upcoming year the mission that Jesus lays out for us in Matthew 25.