Every year we set time aside to honor, celebrate, and challenge our graduating seniors as they transition from life as a high school student to being an adult. No longer will they be under the direct care and supervision of their parents. Many are heading off to college, others are headed into the workforce, while others are deciding to take a gap year before moving toward their next phase. The Senior Grad Banquet at Berean is the celebration of the culmination of our family discipleship milestone path. Together with each students parents we take some time to look back and to challenge students as they move forward. I have the privilege of sharing a brief biblical challenge to these graduating seniors.
There are three things that I challenge our seniors with each year and they come from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:
View Yourself In Light of the Gospel
Seniors, don't every forget the gospel! It has implications for your life and eternity unlike anything else. Paul tells us that in Christ we are a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come! (vs. 17) It is vitally important to constantly remind yourself of this fact. During difficult times, you need to remind yourself who you are and whose you are.
Your identity is not based on what you look like, what you are good at, what you are not good at, successes, failures, past, present, or future. Your identity is who you are in Christ. His death and resurrection count as your death and resurrection. Your sin has been forgiven. You are separated from God no longer. In Jesus you have become the righteousness of God (vs. 21) because Jesus came and was sin on your behalf. You are a new creation. Don't ever forget that. So live in light of that!
View Other in Light of the Gospel
As you enter into this next phase, and for the rest of your life, God is going to continually place new people into your life. Don't just see them as random people but as people who have strategically been placed into your life that need the message of the gospel. Paul says in verse 15 that Jesus died for all.
Just like your identity is not based on what you look like, what you are good at, and what you are not good at, successes, failure, past, present, or future, don't view others through this lens either. Paul says that we are to no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. (vs. 16) We need to view others as those who are in need of a Savior, every bit as much as we are. They too can become a new creation in Christ. View others in light of this!
Answer the Call to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples
There are two key aspects to this point. First, you are called to be a disciple. Our hope is that you will live a life that is transformed by the power of the gospel. We want you to know God and to hold a firmly-rooted authentic faith in Jesus.
Statistics tell us that of the students graduating from high school that were involved with their church youth group, anywhere from 58-84% will abandon their faith and leave the church. Don't let this be true of you! You have been engaged in the life of the church which has been a needed community. The church will still be a NEEDED community! Find ways to not only engage with others in your stage of life within the church but find ways to engage in the life of the church as an adult. You need this community to encourage you and hold you accountable.
We are not only called to be disciples, but we are also called to make disciples. We are called to GO as Christ's ambassadors. (vs. 20) He has chosen us as the means to spread the message of who Jesus is. We ought to take this seriously! In your dorms, classes, jobs, social circles, etc. you are going to encounter people who need the gospel. Look for them and be prepared for them.
Another great way to make disciples is through the ministry of the church. You have had numerous adults who have invested in your life throughout your time as a child and student in the church. Now is the time for you to turn around and be that loving, caring adult who can exemplify a life of faith and teach the younger generation about Jesus. They will listen to you. Be the church.
I'll wrap this up in two concluding statements:
When we view ourselves in light of the gospel, we will strive to grow as a disciple.
When we view others in light of the gospel, we will strive to be a disciple who makes disciples.
Seniors, we love you and have cherished our time with you. As you enter into the final part of the family discipleship process, we hope that you will a life in Christ. Your life might be changing, but we aren't going anywhere. We continue to love you and to pray for you. May your faith deepen as you take this next step in your journey.