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How We Can Pursue the Meaning of “Trevecca” in Our Daily Lives

I’ve lived in Nashville for several years and heard the word “Trevecca” countless times. Trevecca Nazarene University has been a consistent part of the Nashville community for decades. Oddly enough, though I’d seen billboards for the school, read its name in newspapers and heard it said in Christian leadership circles, I’d never really stopped to ask myself what the word “Trevecca” actually means. 

I found out recently when I talked to Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca Nazarene University’s president, for the Real Hope podcast. Dan shared with me the meaning behind the name.

Trevecca’s school’s founder, J. O. McClurkan, came up with the name after hearing of a school, castle and village in Wales called “Trefecka.” The school in the area was purposefully established to bring together followers of theologians Wesley and Calvin — so they could study together despite their differences. The name Trevecca means “house of Rebecca,” and “a binding together in love.”

“During this age of great division and rancor, politically and economically, racially, in every way – the word ‘trevecca’ really means something deep to us,” Dan shared. “We want to be the kind of community that people of different color, language, ethnic background, rich and poor, Democrat, Republican – we can be together and have hard conversations in which the love of Christ binds us together as a unified community. The blood of Jesus Christ has greater power than divisive rhetoric could ever have.”

A Year of Isolation and Division

Like Dan, I think we could all benefit from focusing on cultivating a spirit of ‘trevecca’ in our lives these days. The pandemic brought with it the need for social distancing and physical isolation, which has led to an increase in mental health issues across the board, and political divides are deeper than ever. 

The CDC reported in June 2020 that 40 percent of Americans had experienced mental health or substance abuse issues. Shockingly, this survey also found that 11 percent of Americans had experienced serious thoughts of suicide — just in the 30 days prior to the survey. (That number devastatingly skyrockets to 25 percent when narrowed down to the 18-24 age group.) The combination of isolation, the related economic hardship, loss of loved ones and fear of the virus itself were enough to push these numbers to staggering levels over the last year.

On top of mental health struggles, the pandemic — which also happened to take place in an emotionally charged election year — brought deep political divisiveness. Differing opinions on how the administration was handling the response to the disease, differing beliefs on personal freedoms versus public safety and an increased spread of misinformation online bred even stronger tensions between political parties.

Pew Research reports that politics and partisanism became a major factor in how America was processing and reacting to the pandemic — more so than in any other country.

“As the pandemic wore on…there was less and less common ground. Indeed, the biggest takeaway about U.S. public opinion in the first year of the coronavirus outbreak may be the extent to which the decidedly nonpartisan virus met with an increasingly partisan response,” Pew reports. “No country was as politically divided over its government’s handling of the outbreak as the U.S. was in a 14-nation survey last summer.”

So many of us have our ideas reinforced by social media algorithms all day every day, that when someone close to us has an opposing view, it can be totally jarring. And the issues we are dealing with today can be so deeply personal that differing views extend to more than just legislative policies. For many people, they become issues of character and morality, leaving us wondering how we reconcile our differences.

“‘Agreeing to disagree’ used to be the compromise that allowed people who cared for one another to allow for differences of opinion,” writes Kevyn Burger for the Star Tribune. “That’s become more difficult as many on both sides of the chasm see the opposition as not just wrong but morally indefensible. The pervasive belief that anyone on the other side of the political fence is dangerous or evil strains civility and the ability to seek common ground.”

Who is our neighbor?

The fact is, Jesus didn’t cut off his love from people who disagreed with him. (If that were true, we’d all be goners.) Jesus loved people who were hard to love, even by the world’s standards. He loved tax collectors and prostitutes. He loved rich young rulers and “good for nothing” Samaritans. Even after his death, he demonstrated his love for people like Paul who were actively, violently persecuting his church.

Jesus asked us to love our neighbors, and of course, his disciples wanted to clarify to make sure they understood. Surely he meant people who are like us, right? But Jesus instead told the well-known story of the good Samaritan — a person his audience would’ve despised back then, seen as total outcasts. How could a Samaritan be capable of anything good? It doesn’t sound too different from how we often see people in our culture today based on what party is on their voting ballot.

Surely if Jesus, who was completely holy, could love us, who were completely un-holy, we could try to love people we don’t agree with — just as he challenged his listeners to the story of the good Samaritan to do. We can choose to see others as fellow image-bearers, whether we understand them or not. It won’t be easy, of course. We are not perfect, as Jesus was. But it’s up to us as believers to pursue a spirit of “trevecca” — a binding together in love — in all areas of our lives, especially when it comes to relating to fellow believers.

We should be advocates for unity — not glossing over our differences or ignoring the pain we have caused one another, but with humility, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation under the blood of Jesus. We are brothers and sisters, adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God by the blood of the Lamb. We can seek to understand one another before we seek to be understood. We can listen before we speak, respond thoughtfully rather than reacting impulsively. God repeatedly says in His word that He is slow to anger (and if anyone has a right to be angry, it’s Him). As believers, we are called to get to know his character and emulate it. We also have the Holy Spirit within us, and the fruits of the Spirit include gentleness and self-control. By praying and asking God to cultivate these characteristics in us and making conscious choices to pursue them, we can bind together with one another in love.

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