It’s hard to believe the beginning of a new semester is so close here at Boyce College. In a few weeks, hundreds of new students will arrive on campus to begin classes. Many more hundreds will be returning, and some (as they are all too happy to tell you) will be starting their last semester at Boyce. I look forward to meeting and interacting with the entire student body.
I’ve already looked at the enrollment lists for the New Testament classes I’ll be teaching. Each class will have between 25–40 students enrolled. Some names on the lists I recognize; others are students I’ll be meeting for the first time. I look forward to spending even more time with these smaller groups of students taking my classes.
Throughout the New Testament you finds “groups” as well. Jesus had 12 apostles (Matt 10:1-4). At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul greets a large group of Roman church members (Rom 16:3-15). Hundreds followed Jesus to hear him teach (Luke 14:25). On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 became believers (Acts 2:41). The early church continued to grow rapidly partially because large groups of believers took the gospel message throughout the world.
But neither Boyce College nor the New Testament is only about groups.
I never cease to be amazed at how a passage I’ve read many times before all of a sudden takes on new meaning. That’s what happened this week. In the midst of thinking about the groups of students here at Boyce, I read Luke 3 about John the Baptist: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . . . the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. . . . As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Luke 3:1-4).
John, of course, would later have a group of disciples who followed him. But when he began his ministry, he began alone. Just him. Just one. Think of it: John prepared the way for Jesus, but who prepared the way for John? No one. John began as one solitary voice to the Jewish nation.
This passage got me thinking about students at Boyce. It reminded me that while it is only natural to think of “groups” at the start of a new semester, it is so important that we don’t forget about the “one.”
I’m starting my 19th year at Boyce College. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching thousands of students. And yet, when I think about the students I’ve known, it’s not usually as a group (like “the class of 2012).” Rather, I remember the individual—the one. The student who stepped away from her friends because she saw someone else sitting by herself. The student who made a commitment to a local church and got involved in a specific ministry because he saw he was the one who could meet the need. The student who got a job and viewed it not just as a way to pay her bills but as her mission field for the semester. The student who, when he saw some unmet need, didn’t make excuses but asked, “Why not me?”
So to our new and returning Boyce College students, I say, “Welcome,” or “Welcome back.” We’ve been praying for you and we look forward to seeing you. As you attend your classes and become part of a group of 20, 30, or 40 in the classroom, and as you move into the dorms and become part of your hall, will you also ask God to show you how you can be the one—the one who can make a difference in the life of another?
Dr. Dave DeKlavon is the Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Boyce College.