The goal of community at The Master’s College is to glorify God by participating in the transforming work of Christ through mutual sanctification, which demonstrates to the world the character and redemptive work of God.
Community life on The Master’s College campus is an important aspect of the education and training of every student at The Master’s College. As believers are transformed into the image of Christ through the process of sanctification, we are called to assist others in Christian community to be more like the Master. It is through relationships of mutual encouragement, exhortation, and service that we participate in the work of Christ in the lives of the believers with whom we live. The unbelieving world is drawn to question the selfless and serving nature of such a community. Before the unredeemed world, the Christian community is to demonstrate the beauty of Christ’s character in their attitudes and actions towards one another. To the extent that we do not represent the character of Christ in community we invalidate the promise of the Gospel to transform us into the image of Christ.
Human history is the story of redemption. Since the fall, God has been working out His global plan to reconcile man, who has been separated from Him by sin, to a right relationship with Him. Christian community therefore, cannot be understood as an end unto itself, but part of the greater story of God to put His nature on display and to draw unbelievers to Him. The result of pursuing Christian community apart from the greater purpose of God is an internal focus which ultimately compromises the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
The effect of authentic Christian Community can be world changing. Our holiness, love, service, and integrity place on display the character of God. To the extent we practice these qualities; we put the nature of God on display. Others who encounter Christians should be compelled to inquire, “How can I know this God you serve?”
"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (Jn. 17:3) and therefore, lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound judgment and learning."
- Harvard University Charter, 1936
Students at The Master’s College are expected to take personal responsibility to live a redeemed life, characteristic of a true disciple of Christ. Entrance into Christian community begins with salvation. Christ’s invitation to die to self, represented in the act of baptism, also leads to being raised in newness of life. Unless an individual has experienced true regeneration, he is unable to experience and participate in authentic Christian community. For students who profess Christ but have not genuinely come to life-changing faith, the exercise of complying with the practices of genuine believers can only result in legalism. True believers imitate Christ not out of guilt, but love. This makes the motivations of the heart the real focus within a community of believers. For those who are authentic disciples of Christ, the desire to be like Christ supersedes the desire for personal benefit, which in turn allows them to become people of great spiritual impact. Unless one accepts Christ’s invitation to die, he cannot truly live.
Personal holiness must be understood as not only a duty, but the authenticating fruit of true regeneration. It is a validation of the Gospel’s promise to lead us into transformed lives, to be new creatures in Christ. The Master’s College chooses to take a student at his word, based on his written personal testimony, that he is indeed a believer. The campus culture, therefore, is designed to assist and enable every student to pursue godliness in all aspects of life, resulting in a student possessing integrity with regard to their desire to be “imitators of Christ.”
One who professes Christ as Lord and Savior must also demonstrate biblical faith. Faith, as illustrated in Scripture, is always reflected in a believer’s actions. Stated another way, one must practice what he preaches. Scripture presents the issue of a believer’s integrity as wisdom, putting knowledge into practice. Only the one who practices what he has been taught has truly learned. Therefore, a community of Christian students must be characterized as a community of people who are living out Truth. Those who do not practice what they preach have no integrity and, according to Scripture, do not demonstrate the fruit evidencing true regeneration.7
"The end then of learning is . . . to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him."
- John Milton, Of Education
We are to follow the example of Christ to deny ourselves and look out for the interests of others. The New Testament employs the phrase “one another” over 56 times in order to express the shift from the self-interest of the unbeliever to the Christlike humility of the believer. This is servant leadership governed by values which run counter to those of the unredeemed. Humility, teachablity, and submission to authority are hallmarks of a servant’s posture towards others. Refusing to demand individual rights is consistent with Christ’s response to His disciples: in the Kingdom of God, those who are last will become first.
Loving a brother or sister enough to gently point out sin and walk with them while seeking to restore them to a right relationship with God provides a radically different motivation for dealing with sin in a community. No longer is the motivation in dealing with an individual’s sin the maintaining of some external standard. The motivation is not external; rather it is internal, calling the believer to love and worship God from the heart. Christians are to create a culture that seeks to encourage and, when necessary, even exhort others within the community towards a sincere love for God. Understood biblically, confrontation of sin is a ministry, a loving practice among believers.
Responding gladly to authorities is another distinctly Christian hallmark. Recognizing that all authorities are ordained by God frees the individual to respond to school leaders, parents, employers, or government officials with a spirit that recognizes the sovereign purposes of God. Unlike modern culture, which elevates personal autonomy and the right to challenge authority structures, the believer can devote their energies to obeying and honoring those God has placed over them. Those in authority, likewise, are required by God to exercise their leadership in a manner which does not provoke or treat those in their care in an unjust fashion, but actively seeks their best. The biblical principles of humility and love are always to be demonstrated when approaching authorities, especially when seeking to assist authorities to understand personal concerns or disagreements.
"The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How then is a dying culture going to consider us? Jesus said, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye love one another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon His authority, He gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians."
- Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century
The remarkable and surprising answer of Christ to the question of which is the greatest commandment, elevates the Christian’s commitment to sacrificially love others before themselves to the highest priority. He relates the authenticity of one’s claim to know and love God with that of loving his neighbor. To purposefully care for others more than oneself, can only be achieved through the presence and power of the Spirit of God. In our unregenerate position, we only had the capacity to seek our own interests. Dying to self frees us to lend the same or greater energy to showing an individual the kind of love God demonstrated to us and places a new light on what loving behavior should be in community.
"Almost no concept is more important to the Christian faith than forgiveness. The Gospel itself is a message about God’s forgiveness, and Christ’s teaching was full of exhortations to his people to be forgiving to one another."
- John MacArthur, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness
"God . . . reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God we entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
- II Corinthians 5:18-20
To pursue forgiveness, restoration, peacemaking, the bearing of burdens, sharing of resources, and looking out for the interest of others, marks a community of Christians as wholly distinct from what unbelievers could achieve. It is in this manner that the world is confronted with the nature of a God that is different than the one of their own creation.
"To strive first for the kingdom of God in choosing a career, a Christian will ask himself particular questions. Where in the kingdom does God want me to work? Where are the needs great? Where are the workers few? . . . Placing emphasis where Jesus placed it, a prime citizen will add another question: What would my career do for the least of these?
"Passionate Christians want the return of the Lord. And let me add, so do compassionate ones. When our life is sweet, we can look across the world to lives that aren’t sweet. We can raise our heads and our hopes for those lives. . .If we believe in the kingdom of God we will pray, and we will hope for those without much hope. . .We will work and study in the same direction as we hope."
- Gordon T. Smith, Courage & Calling: Embracing Your God Given Potential
The genuine believer follows Christ’s example by looking out for the interests of those who are less fortunate. They do so by not expending all their personal resources on themselves. The generosity and sacrifice of Christians again is counter-cultural to the pursuit of unbelievers in accumulating and consuming everything for themselves. This requires that we are aware of those less fortunate and live in a manner in which we share our resources gladly with others. Christ exhorted His disciples that authentic faith is manifested in the caring for the least of these.
Christians demonstrate the compassion of their Lord. Christ, criticized as being a “friend of sinners”, was always willing to show love to those society considered unworthy. Modeling the reversed values of the Kingdom of God, a believer chooses to not only identify with the powerful, wealthy, or popular of society. Christ used opportunities to extend mercy to those who could not earn or merit it to illustrate the greater mercy that was available to unworthy sinners. Christian community makes a place for those society deems unlovely, and also seeks to demonstrate the character of God’s saving mercy which is applied to us who are unworthy of His love. In doing so we point to the Gospel (I John 1:5-6; 2:3-6).
"It is my place, however, to issue a reminder that while Christ calls us to separate ourselves from sin, he does not call us to separate ourselves from sinners. I worry that Christians are retreating from American culture at a time when people desperately need the gospel. Christ does not call us inward but onward and outward, to reach our friends and our families with bold, persuasive, thoughtful, and compassionate Christianity."
- Philip Graham Ryken, My Father’s World
We recognize that sin is always present in a community of people, even Christian communities. Scripture emphasizes that we are all in process of being made righteous and therefore must practice a loving approach to others when they are in sin. The emphasis of Scripture is on restoring one who is in sin, seeking reconciliation when one is sinned against, and extending forgiveness when it is requested. When there is offense, we are to actively make peace.
A set apart lifestyle is not a lifestyle of disengagement from the world. Christians are to put on the image of Christ, which in effect is the adopting of values and practices which are consistent with the nature and image of God. Whether referred to as the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), or the nature of love (I Corinthians 13), being a child of God demands that we reflect the character of our Father. Being holy, because God is holy, is a mission statement for Christians, who corporately live radically different than the world. Consecration is being set apart for the purposes of the worship of God. As the world observes Christians demonstrating God’s character, they are drawn to know the Christians’ God.
The world can only observe Christians by seeing Christians in action. Therefore, the engagement of Christians in their community, in the marketplace, in their neighborhoods is a fundamental practice of those who understand Christ’s call to be salt and light, for He says: when they observe your good deeds they will glorify the Father. Christian community begins with the gospel, validates the promises of the gospel through transformed lives, and advances the gospel by modeling and proving the message of the gospel. For Christians to take lightly the intentions of God in redeeming us and calling us to live with one another according to the principles of Christian love, results in believers compromising their calling and the purpose of Christian community in the Kingdom.
"God demands that we love with affection and honor each other because this lures the world to love him and all that He is for them in Christ. When you magnify Christ by loving Christians affectionately and outdoing each other in showing honor, the world will see and be more inclined to glorify God (Matthew 5:16) . . . the remarkable growth of the early church in the Roman Empire was owing, under God, especially to the kind of community they created, not communes, but networks of loyal loving, humble, affectionate, respectful, sacrificial relationships. The fearful and fragmented pagans saw it and were drawn."
- John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad
"The world has a right to look upon us and make a judgment. We are told by Jesus that as we love one another the world will judge, not only whether we are His disciples, but whether the Father sent the Son. The final apologetic, along with the rational, logical defense and presentation, is what the world sees in the individual Christian and in our corporate relationships together."
- Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century
"Evangelism as a function of the Body takes place when a handful of disciples band together, and pool their abilities and resources for the sake of reaching into the world with their message. The very existence of a group of Christians with unique relationships to one another is in itself a witness. We have seen that from the beginning, one of God’s primary means of revealing Himself to the world has been through people… God never intended evangelism to be an individualistic effort. The biblical pattern is for the individual’s witness to be carried on within the setting of a corporate effort. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (I John 4:12).”"
- Jim Petersen, Living Proof
"Classical Education has always encouraged students to acquire more than knowledge and skills; it has also encouraged them to develop virtues that will incline them to use these things for the benefit of others… education [at a Christian college] is meant to… line up “with the redemptive purposes of God in the world.” Or put it like this: your Christian [college] education is designed to help you love the Lord our God with all your mind, and then to love your neighbor as yourself with a life of educated service."
- Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living
"We must restore to our communities and to our language an understanding of vocation as calling – as something that is fundamentally sacred and that enables us, in response to God’s call, to embrace what God would have us be and do in the church and in the world."
- Gordon T. Smith, Courage & Calling: Embracing Your God Given Potential
A biblical understanding of calling (Latin. vocation) demands that a Christian educational community prepare students for more than earning a living. A Christian college exists to prepare Kingdom builders. Whether the marketplace, the classroom, or the pulpit, students are to be educated in order to demonstrate the very nature of God Himself within the economy of a fallen world. How can lost, disengaged mankind know what mercy, forgiveness, justice, or healing look like? Through the living parable of Christian teachers who invest their lives modeling compassionate care for at-risk children, through Christian bankers who assist the poor to secure low-interest small business loans, through Christians in law enforcement and government who seek to provide justice for those who are being treated unfairly, and through the example of Christian health care professionals who help provide loving treatment for those who are dying or disabled. The Gospel accompanied by hands of service portrays a fuller picture of the love of God.
Recognizing the diversity of spiritual giftedness, life experience, natural abilities, learned skills, and unique passions of each Christian, the College seeks to provide an environment for discovery and investment of every resource entrusted to a student by God for His glory and His purposes. The complement between academic preparation and applied service within the local community, especially through the local church, enables students to identify their life’s calling and to employ their education with the intention of being salt and light. This requires that they demonstrate the distinctively Christian characteristics of excellence, integrity, diligence, and generosity.
"Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate… Because Christian community is founded solely on Jesus Christ, it is a spiritual reality. In this aspect it differs absolutely from all other communities . . . Christ opened up the way to God and to one another. Now Christians can live with each other in peace; they can love and serve one another; they can become one. But they can continue to do so only through Jesus Christ."
- Dietrich Bonheoffer, Life Together
The Master’s College invites all students who are serious about realizing their calling as a Christian to consider their responsibility to the greater Christian community when making application to the College. Not only are students applying to a courses of study, they are applying to join a community of dedicated Christians who live, work, and study together for God’s greater purposes. Therefore, students of the College are asked to purposely decide to participate and contribute to the welfare and benefit of others while at the College, both on and off campus. Those who comes to The Master’s College have decided that they have as their goal to be like The Master, and thus welcome the input of other godly individuals into their lives. This commitment is distinctively Christian and rejects the values of our culture which promote self-interest, personal preferences, a demanding spirit, or a rights-based attitude.
Individual students can expect to receive the care, pursuit, encouragement, exhortation, and support provided to them by the administration, faculty, staff, and fellow students living and studying together at The Master’s College. The leadership of the College will strive to consistently apply the biblical principles of loving leadership, spiritual oversight, and practical care modeled by Christ. A student can expect that the College community will provide avenues for discovering and employing their unique gifts and vocational interests, and will offer multiple forums for fellowship, spiritual dialog, loving counsel, and settings for personal and corporate worship. In addition, they should expect to experience the granting of forgiveness when true repentance is demonstrated, acceptance and care when sincerely striving for victory over sin, and practical assistance when facing physical needs.
With these goals and purposes in mind, we call every student to join the administration, faculty, and staff to uphold the Community Covenant of The Master’s College: