September 3, 2021 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Spread out across the bleachers and field of Williams Stadium, Liberty University students spent the first Convocation of the academic year celebrating the university’s 50 years of Training Champions for Christ and listening to renowned pastor Dr. Tony Evans outline what it means to be a representative of God’s Kingdom in the world today.
Members of the Liberty Worship Collective and LU Praise led a variety of worship songs before a video, narrated by Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell, illustrated the God-inspired vision and tremendous growth of the university over the last 50 years. Liberty Campus Pastor Jonathan Falwell then reenforced the idea that the day was a culmination of something his father spoke of when Liberty began in 1971.
“What you just saw was talking about vision, a vision that came from the heart of God and was given to the heart of a man, and that man was simply saying, ‘God, here I am, use me,’” Falwell said. “We sit here now today 50 years later and we see what God can do with anyone who says, ‘God, here I am.’”
Falwell pointed out that while the Convocation was a time to look back at the school’s beginnings, it was also a moment to look toward what lies ahead.
“We celebrate, this fall, 50 years on this mountain, 50 years of what God has done through Liberty University, and while we take a moment to look back at what God has done in the past, what we really need to be focused on is what God is going to do in the future … through you (students),” he said. “We’re excited about what is ahead for Liberty University, but we are more excited about what is ahead for each and every student who is a part of this campus today as they are becoming Champions for Christ in our world today.”
He then introduced Evans, who is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and author of over 100 books, booklets, and Bible studies. One of his children, Christian recording artist Anthony Evans, graduated from Liberty in 2000, and he has two grandsons who are current students.
Evans began with an analogy that he would carry on throughout his message, using the venue and timely event of Liberty Football’s home opener against Campbell, set for Saturday at 6 p.m., as a demonstration of the clashing “teams” that gather in today’s world every day. In addition to the two football teams that take the field, Evans said a third team would also be present: the referees. Set apart by their striped uniforms and rule books that they follow regardless of what the other teams say, this third team is a representative of the established guidelines of the game.
“For three hours there is going to be a conflict on this field. These two teams are going to clash and they are not going to agree. … They are going to be headed in two different directions,” Evans said. “This officiating team will be on the field but they will not be of the field. They will be in the middle of the conflict but not part of the conflict. You are living in a world of conflict — racial, political, class, social — but what God has called you to do is be a part of His third team, be a part of the crew who do not join the teams on the field, but represent the team up (in Heaven) in the chaos down here.”
In the Great Commission, Jesus said, “All authority is given unto me on Heaven and on Earth,” and Evans explained that because of this, as Christ’s followers, we have been given “Kingdom authority.” Just as a football referee has been given a whistle and a yellow flag to show the presence of the league, Christians have been given authority from God to represent Him on Earth.
Jesus also called for his people to make disciples, people who are visible and verbal followers of Christ, and Evans noted the difference between someone who believes in Christ and those who carry their identity in Him and influence the world around them as members of His Kingdom.
“Our issue is we have plenty of Christians, but what we don’t have is enough disciples — people who understand that their whole identity is to be absorbed in their relationship to the risen Christ,” Evans said. “(A disciple) is not merely a person who is a Christian on their way to Heaven. It’s a Christian who has grabbed Heaven, brought it down to Earth, and is living it out as a full-time follower of Jesus Christ.”
Applying this idea even further to the lives of Liberty students, Evans outlined how every profession is a different area to be a representative of Christ.
“You’re supposed to represent Christ in every sphere of life so that that sphere of life is introduced to your Savior through your expertise,” he said. “This is what makes Liberty University so great, as you celebrate your 50 years. Young men and young ladies have gone out into every sphere and discipline, not just in church work but in church life, and have manifested the Kingdom of God in the chaos of man.”
“If we are going to save our culture it’s got to be folks like you who adopt Heaven’s view as representatives of Jesus Christ in the marketplace of life,” Evans added. “I hope that here (at Liberty University) in your 50th year that we don’t just have great students and great Christians, but that we wind up with a generation of disciples of Jesus Christ who don’t mind other folk knowing where you take your stand.”
In the final moments of Convocation, Falwell shared that each Convocation and Campus Community would offer a new insight into what it means to be a Champion for Christ.
“Every Convocation, every Campus Community, is going to be an explantation of what it means to be a Champion for Christ, and we want you not to miss any of them.”