Faith in the microbiology classroom is a natural fit
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Separating faith from work is no easier than separating gender or ethnicity from work, Dr. Daisy Savarirajan told about 75 Grand Canyon University faculty during a “Lunch and Learn” session Friday.
“I can’t separate one from the other,” said Savarirajan, a College of Science, Engineering and Technology microbiology instructor. “When I’m serving the students, I’m serving Christ.”
Savarirajan discussed “Christ in the Classroom” during one of a series of peer-led talks about assimilating faith into teaching. The sessions are part of GCU’s Integration of Faith, Learning and Work initiative under Dr. Jason Hiles, College of Theology dean.
She referenced John 4:35, which reads, “ … look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” This refers to people who would have eternal life in His kingdom, she said. “I see this campus as a field that is ready for harvest.”
Teaching microbiology gives her the context for God’s calling, which is to save lives. Focusing on one’s true calling, or the big picture, gives work meaning, Savarirajan said. Otherwise it can feel demeaning, discouraging or draining. She believes her purpose in the classroom is to represent Christ and allow God’s spirit to work in her.
She also uses classroom examples to bring Scripture to light. For example, staining cell walls during research can be likened to the Walls of Jericho, for walls represent any impenetrable situation. Likewise, Savarirajan believes that lab rules for disinfecting equipment are not so different from the laws that God laid down in Leviticus.
Future ‘Lunch and Learns’
The “Lunch and Learn” speaker series is open to all faculty members and is held three times per semester at 11:15 a.m. in Howerton Hall. Faculty members can click here to reserve a box lunch.
Future topics and speakers:
Jan. 22: “Work that Honors God,” Tamara Wisely of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
Feb. 19: “Work as an Expression of Neighbor Love,” Dr. Moronke Oke and faculty panel from the Colangelo College of Business
March 18: “Work and Rest in Balance,” speaker TBD
Picking up on the topic after Savarirajan’s talk, Hiles said that work is an area in which man has suffered since Adam and Eve tasted the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Hiles asked participants to apply the first and second commandments, love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor, in considering the Bible verse from Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus visited the home of sisters Martha and Mary.
Mary “was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’
“But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”
In small group discussions, faculty debated such issues as whether they could better relate to Martha, who was doing chores, or to Mary, who was listening to God, and whether Martha was justified in asking Jesus to compel Mary to help her.
The exercise was meant to stimulate thinking about how issues of work are portrayed in the Bible, Hiles said.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.