I came, I saw, I loved

Final Charge to 2024 Class of Asbury Theological Seminary

Julius Caesar famously wrote to the Roman Senate in 46 B.C. in the wake of his stunning victory in the east:  veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered.   That famous phrase veni, vidi, vici has become almost the summarizing motto of the confident, unbridled triumphalism of the Roman era.  If their motto was “I came, I saw, I conquered” what would be the 21st century counterpart?  I think the 21st century counterpart would be… I came, I saw, and I twittered. I came I saw and I posted a picture on Instagram?   What an apt metaphor for today!   We live in a reductionistic world with little patience for serious reflection.  The whole glorious gospel has been reduced to simplistic phrases, bumper stickers, a twitter feed or an Instagram or TikTok post.

We live in a “googlized” and “AI” world which is inundated with information, but which resists serious, long-term, reflection.  We live in a time when Jews, Palestinians, and Ukranians are dying and the next morning’s headlines are still about Taylor Swift.  The trivialization of information, the reductionism of all things sacred, and the shockingly short attention span, all confront you as bearers of the sacred eternal gospel in the 21st century.  But, in any age, and whatever the challenges, the gospel is still good news!

I charge you, graduates of the 2024 class of Asbury Theological Seminary to go forth and inhabit a robust, deeply rooted apostolic gospel.  Go forth with renewed confidence in the Word of God, the supremacy of Christ, the glorious witness of the church through the ages and to all the world!   It will not be quick or easy – discipleship never is.  It will take sacrifice and some long nights of holy lamenting.  You must be prepared to occupy not the long enjoyed cultural center, but the more perilous prophetic margins.  You must wake up to the new reality that to be a Christian is to be despised and hated, not lauded and revered.  Jesus, by the way, did promise that to us (Matt. 10:22).  But, through it all, never forget that the true church of Jesus Christ is indestructible!  Christ has promised to build His Church and it is being embraced by men and women from every tribe, tongue and language.

If you lose your courage and start entertaining people, or comprising on the Word of God, or losing your focus on Jesus Christ, then like Toyota, I will declare a “class of 2024” recall for Asbury putting out a defective product which could be dangerous to the health of the church!  Instead, you are called to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world!  There are lost sheep to be found, wayward sons who need to come home;  poor who need to hear the invitation to the Banquet; disenfranchised workers who need to be paid in full; lost coins to be found; lepers heals; pearls of great price discovered; great debts wiped out!  None of this happens through an exercise of power, but through humility, patience and love.  In the eschaton, when God’s people have been vindicated and we are reigning with Christ, and all things are under his feet, even then, our motto will not be veni, vedi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered; but, through the gospel it has always been veni, vedi, amavi:  I came, I saw, I loved.  So, class of 2024, you may be reviled and misunderstood, but be prayerful and faithful and keep on loving! The night is far spent, the day is at hand when all things will be revealed and God will set all things right.  In the meantime, God is at work in your lives and in the world, so let’s roll up our sleeves, and get on with the hard, but glorious work of loving.



Please fill out the form below if you would like to provide feedback to Dr. Tennent concerning this blog entry.