Seeking Jesus First

By Curt Stutzman, EMHS Bible and Social Studies teacher

Eastern Mennonite School‘s mission statement includes a call to “personal integrity.” That phrase often creates a vision of integrity on an academic level simply because we are an academic institution. My initial response then focuses on issues like plagiarism, cheating, and violations of the handbook covenant.

What a narrow reading! As I contemplate a Christ-centered integrity, I must focus instead on the reason for the outward trappings of integrity. True integrity inherently begins with my recognition, understanding, and acceptance of Jesus’ statement in John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” If we don’t begin there, integrity becomes a concept no deeper than the shallow accessories of an external display.

Integrity is not a reliance on rules and regulations, not a dependence on the old covenant, but instead becomes a relationship with the author of life, mercy and grace. It creates a recognition of the light within us, given as the spirit shining out through these imperfect clay vessels. Integrity is a reflection of God, of His love for us and others. We are created in His image, born to seek and to express His vision for our lives. Integrity allows us to value others as we ourselves have been valued.

This understanding goes well beyond acting in the right ways or engaging in socially valued behaviors. Integrity becomes more than a word describing a political ideal or a desired norm. It becomes more than an appropriate trait or action. It means seeking Jesus first!

Eastern Mennonite School’s mission statement calls for the light of integrity to flow out of us, illuminating the darkness. We will know integrity as we view our lives through the life and teachings of Jesus. To experience true integrity, we cannot start with integrity; we must start with Jesus Christ. He shapes us, and as we are shaped, we create a community where integrity of thought and action is a natural by-product of our active knocking, seeking, and finding.

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