This text is excerpted from President Michael G. Scales’ Inaugural Address.
Some of you today, when you stepped on campus, arrived with the understanding that you were visiting a “religious school”. I hope you leave here with a slightly different, perhaps somewhat larger picture.
Nyack is not, first and foremost, a religious College. You might ask, “How can this be?” Given our 125-year history of training missionaries for worldwide Christian service — how can I possibly say that Nyack is not, first and foremost, a religious College?
I answer with the words of the apostle Paul, “in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor our disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more… faith expressed in love.”
Not a religious college, Nyack is instead a college of faith, and more than this, a college where this faith is expressed in love. For like Paul, we believe this is what matters. I’ve spoken about the need for people who would not otherwise come together rallying for the cause. Our cause is taking the love and compassion of Christ to needy people in relevant ways.
Nearly anyone familiar with Nyack knows that for 125 years this college prepared students to take the Gospel of Jesus to people who have never heard. Today, however, it is important that we all understand that Nyack graduates do more than take the words of Jesus to those who have never heard. Our graduates take the love of Jesus to those who have not known love. They take the bread of Jesus to those who do not have enough to eat. They take the light of the hope of Jesus to those who huddle in the darkness.
Our students are not only the words of Jesus. They are His hands and his feet as well. For whatever we do to serve the most overlooked, the most forsaken, and the most ignored among us, we do for God himself.
We like to say that Nyack seeks to exalt Jesus Christ by being socially relevant. Perhaps we haven’t gone far enough with the language we use to describe what we see when this occurs. You see, when the people of God bring the provision of God to those who are in need, both the presence of God and the power of God also arrive.
In other words, when the love of Jesus is brought to needy people in practical everyday ways, this isn’t just socially relevant. It is socially transforming.