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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Mark x.35-45.

The disciples in this passage were looking at their faith to see what they could get out of it. They wanted to be assured of a prize before they took a risk. They came to Jesus saying: |We would that Thou shouldest do for us whatever we ask.| But Jesus bids them to consider rather what they can do for their faith. |Whosoever,| He says, |would be first, is to be the servant for all, for even the Son of man comes not to be ministered unto, but to minister.| I suppose that when a man faces a new year of college life, his first thought is of what it can do for him. He has studied the college programme, asking himself: |What can I get out of this?| and now he looks into the year, with all its unknown chances, and asks of it: |O unknown year, what happiness and friendship and instruction may I get from you? Will you not bring to {5} pass what I desire? I would that thou shouldest do for me whatever I ask.| Then the spirit of Jesus Christ meets him here and turns his question round: |What are you going to do for the college during this coming year? Are you going to help us in our morals, in our intellectual life, in our religion? Are you going to contribute to the higher life of the university? For what do you come here, -- to be ministered unto, or to minister?|

Of course a man may answer that this is an impossible test; that there is nothing that he can give to a great place like this, and everything he can receive. But he little knows how the college from year to year gets marked for good or evil by a class, or a group within a class, or sometimes a few persons, as they pass in and out of our gates. Sometimes a group of young men live for a few years among us and leave behind them a positively malarial influence; and some times a few quiet lives, simply and modestly lived among us, actually sweeten and purify our climate for years together. And so in the quiet of our prayers we give ourselves, not to be ministered unto, but to minister. {6} Nowhere in the world is it more true that we are members one of another, and that the whole vast institutional life is affected by each slightest individual. Nowhere in this world is there a better chance to purify the spirit and tone, either of work or of sport, and nowhere can a man discover more immediately the happiness of being of use. The recreation and the religion, the study and the play, of our associated life, are waiting for the dedication of unassuming Christian men to a life which offers itself, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

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