Have You Graduated?
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13)
The majority of students yearn for that day when they can toss their caps in the air and express jubilation upon their scholastic completion. Students can finally exhale for they have obtained their degree. With sighs of relief they can reflect on how their countless hours of hard work have finally paid off. However, the feeling of excitement wears off quickly when reality sets in and life calls with the demand of, “Now what?” Life continues and the student must figure out what they must do to put their education to practical use in the workforce.
People often wonder about the “real start” of their life. A student may think that life begins when they enter college or when they get their degree. Some may see the beginning of life is when they find that special someone or get that dream job. Buy a house. Have children. The goalposts keep moving.
The life of a Christian is altogether different. Paul uses vivid language to articulate the meaning of life. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). It is a continual dying of self and allowing Christ to live. Life begins when we let Christ shine through us.
Jesus makes it clear the conditions of being His disciple. One of them is denying self (cf. Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23). Rarely, if we are honest, do we sit down and ponder the costs of following Christ (cf. Lk. 14:25ff). Do we ever believe or think to ourselves, “Well, I have done enough.” Satan wants us to feel that we have accumulated enough good deeds or that our good column far outweighs the bad that we have done. If we go around and ask people, the majority will say that they are good people. It is easy to evaluate our lives from a human system of morality versus the true standard of measure—God’s.
As Christians, we have to be careful in our thinking. Our minds must never deceive us in thinking we have graduated just because we believe, repent, confess, and were baptized. The journey of a Christian is lifelong. A Christian is a lifetime student for Christ. We are to continue to learn, grow, and serve daily. We are not handed a diploma once we have completed or attained a certain status. Some denominational groups give certificates when they confirm, baptize, or establish a membership with someone. Nowhere in Scripture does this occur! God knows His sheep and the ones that follow do what He says! (cf. Jn. 10:3ff)
When we conjure up an image of graduation, there is a real sense of accomplishment that the graduate has made it. In those briefest moments, joy overwhelms the graduate and the loved ones there to cheer applaud them for their achievement. Similarly, may be the experience for the one baptized into Christ. There is a great joy for the new convert and the brethren. The new believer has had the burden of sin lifted from their shoulders. Like a graduate, the new babe in Christ may feel ready to take on the world. It is easy to feel ignited when our emotions are stirred, especially when we have never experienced such a life-changing event. There is no denying that graduation, or most importantly, baptism—is life-altering. Lives are never the same. Anyone who has gone through graduation should realize that life is different from here-on-out. How much more must it be for the one baptized into Christ? However, the goals of each are very different. The graduate is searching to figure out their path in life; however, the newborn Christian is building and maintaining their newly discovered life!
Many of us who have been baptized, probably have felt that initial fire. It may have faded or isn’t as strong. May we pray that the Lord reignite us for His service. Moreover, let us never confuse baptism as being graduation but a starting point in our new life with Christ.