Because I have no life, pondered a bit why I was asked to be graduation speaker. Perhaps didn’t know anyone else who would come. No, that’s not it. Perhaps didn’t know anyone else with inside information on frog fur, hot/cold calories, genetically engineered guinea pigs, life history of SOHCAHTOA. Nope, you really don’t want to hear any more on those subjects. I’ve got it! You enjoyed our Bible classes so much, the ones you’d sleep through, you wanted one last opportunity! Yeah, I know, I never let you sleep in Bible class, don’t believe you will now. Thank you for this opportunity to have a few laughs, a few tears, a few serious moments with you while we bring your high school experience to an end.
You made it! You have reached your goal, free at last, you can walk out of here today without a backward glance. No more advanced bio research papers; Bible presentations for chapel; US history projects; polynomials to factor, congruencies to prove, bells every forty-something minutes to rule your day. Free to have your own place, drive your own car, do your own thing, decide your own schedule; you’re even free to have a job so you can pay the rent on your own place, the payments on your own car, the cashier for your own food and clothing. That doesn’t sound so cool. But wait:
Be all you can be. Be yourself. You can be whatever you want. Be true to yourself. Ahh, that sounds better; you hear it all the time, it’s even on the internet so it MUST be true. That’s the world’s advice. God says, Be who I called you to be. (Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10; 1Thess 2:12) Certain things you are and cannot change: representative of family whose name you bear; representative of schools whose name is on your diploma; representative of Christ if you bear the name Christian. God’s expectation of you: that you conduct yourselves in all areas of life in a way that pleases God.
Earlier in Ephesians Paul told the Christians in Ephesus that God had not only saved them from sin, he had saved them to do good works, things God had already planned for them to do. Not something new with Paul, Jesus talked about it early on in his earthly ministry: “Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16 Which brings us to the burning question of the day (and the answer is not God, Jesus, or the Bible)!
How will you use this wonderful freedom that follows graduation from high school?
These sorts of occasions were once called a “commencement ceremony”, and for good reason. Today’s celebration signifies an end to something; more importantly, it marks the beginning, of the rest of your life. Here’s the challenge, then, as you leave here to begin a new stage in life. Live so you look like who you are in God’s eyes. A child of God should look and act like one of the family. Paul says, “Walk worthy of your vocation”. The practical 24/7 character of your life should match your spiritual position as a child of God and fellow heir of Jesus Christ. You’ve had much help and guidance to get you to this point in your life. You still need just a tiny bit of help, (wink, wink) at least on occasion. As you move on to the next thing, what can you do to increase the likelihood that you will indeed walk worthy?
(put to the test) your vocation – one that is worthy of a Christian
The vocation you pursue must be one that is not illegal or immoral, duh, or could be viewed as questionable for a child of God to engage in. OK, so those are off the table. What about all the rest? Any one of them is fair game, right? Not necessarily.
Baseball scout had come up with incredible find – batter who could hit virtually any kind of pitch, most of them out of the park. Convinced manager to give him a try, brings him to ball park. Crowd about dies laughing when they see a horse headed for home plate! They quiet down when horse takes bat, waits for the pitch, swings, deep to center field and over the wall. Horse just stands at the plate. Manager to scout: tell him to run. Scout to manager: if he could run he’d be at the race track!
God has not equipped you to do everything, or even most things. He has given you a specific set of skills and interests that fit you for the vocation to which he has called you. To do those good works he planned for you as an integral part of your salvation.
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves” being certain the choices you make for what comes next allow you to use the gifts God has given you to the fullest. “This message will [not] self-destruct in five seconds”! because this is mission possible. Even though it may seem impossible, with God’s help you can make good and right choices. God doesn’t partly equip us for something and then leave us to figure the rest out on our own.
So you’ve figured out the general category of things God has gifted you for, now can you narrow it down any more? That vocation you chose to follow must be one that does not require you to compromise Biblical principles. One that by its nature allows you to live “in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him”. A vocational environment that prevents you from ever speaking about your faith in the Lord Jesus or from keeping the Lord’s Day holy would not be a good choice.
Prove your vocation, test it to make sure that it complements the rest of your daily life. For the Christian there should be no dichotomy, no division of life into sacred and secular categories. All of your life is lived before God; that is why Paul could say ” whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
(undergo training or instruction in preparation for a particular role, function, or profession) for your vocation – in a way that is worthy of a Christian
You’ve proven your vocation, you’re sure it is what God intends for you to do with your life. Cmon, paycheck, I’m ready for you, my plans are all made. Umm, not quite. No matter what vocation you are to follow, you must be prepared. Running the cash register or stocking shelves or shagging carts at WalMart requires training so you can meet the expectations of the manager. Fashion design, Biblical counseling, marriage, EMT, architecture, public safety, teacher, military personnel, all these and more require preparation.
Some vocations require on-the-job training, following specific routines and procedures an employer has developed to prepare candidates for a particular role within the company. Other vocations require formal education in a particular field of study, THEN on-the-job training, perhaps even regular follow-up training to stay current with regulations and procedures.
The child of God, you, must prepare for your chosen vocation in a way that honors Christ. You’re not done with learning, you’re not finished with teachers quite yet! Christ-honoring performance in your vocation absolutely requires thorough preparation. Learning all the necessary details, practicing the procedures, learning how to apply the principles are all just as important as what you do on the job.
(carry out or perform an action) your vocation as to the Lord (Rom. 14:8, Eph. 6:7)
You’ve proven your vocation, prepared for your vocation, now you can relax, chill, the hard work’s over. Right? “But wait, there’s more”. Now you’re expected to perform, and not to just any standard. In Paul’s teaching in chapter 6 on the relationship between employer and employee he says that we are to “render service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man”.
In the performance of your vocation, who should you be trying to please? God. But what about all the people around me? Can’t I try to please them too? Shouldn’t I try? Here’s how it works: if you please the Lord, you will please all the people you really need to. Besides, God’s approval is more important in the loooooooong run anyway. That’s true whatever stage of life or preparation you’re at.
That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? “ If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Because you belong to him, your first loyalty should be to him as his child and representative. My challenge to you, the Ossipee Valley Christian School Class of 2011:
When you leave here to commence the rest of your life – represent the family whose name you bear; represent the school whose name is on your diploma; represent the Christ whose name you bear in such a way that you will receive your Heavenly Father’s approval and the respect of your fellow-man.
Thank you and may the Lord richly bless you.