A Scientist Stops By

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

“So who’s in a science class right now?”  All hands go up.  “What are you learning about in science class?”  Cells and cytoplasm; volcanos; egg drops from the school roof; mesosphere and stratosphere; DNA and Gregory Mendel; Physics (ugh!); evolution.  “So, what do your science classes have to do with you being a Christian.”  Nothing.  No obvious relation.  They seem totally opposite: one focuses on facts and evidence, the other on faith and belief.  Aren’t evolution and Christianity, you know… “In conflict?”  Yeah.

So, what does a science class have to do with our lives as Christians?

Our guest is JR Rigby: he’s one of the most intentional Christians I know; he’s a also a USDA scientist who studies streams and rivers in the Mississippi delta region.  Some days JR sits in the office and develops models on the computer; sometimes he plays with a long, clear-sided tank which allows him to simulate and study the effect of flowing water on different fabricated river beds; sometimes he’s out wearing rubber waders in the rivers.  At one time JR was aiming to be a musician, but JR discovered in high school and college that what was hard for his peers (math, physics) came easy for him.  Was his faith as a Christian ever in conflict with his studies?  Sure, he occasionally had professors who had a bone to pick with Christianity.  But he remembers one day asking a theology professor how a scientist could fit into the life of the church – without compromising either faith or science; the professor didn’t know, but a friendship and discerning discussion began that day.

So, what does science have to do with our lives as Christians?

For JR, his work as a scientist is an ongoing exploration of God’s creation; it’s a fascination with the streams, currents, and turbulence, which leads him to contemplate the God who created and sustains these things; it’s work which helps him respond to God’s command to humans to “tend” the creation (Gen. 2).  It’s work that – as far as JR can discern – is a faithful way to use the gifts God has given him (a mind for physics and math); it’s work that allows God’s call to all people – a call to baptism and discipleship – to ring most loud and clear in his life.

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.  – Romans 12:5-6a

So JR is a scientist and the body of Christ is richer and healthier because of him.  But, what gifts has God given you?  How might God be calling you to use your gifts now and in the future?   How might God’s call ring most loud and clear in your life?  We’ll begin discerning such things in the weeks to come.

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