Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Graduation Speech

Graduation Speech, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
In my life, I have received a few distinct honors and privileges, but one of the greatest happened on Friday night. I had the privilege of speaking to the graduating class of Trinity Christian School in Morgantown.

I had the privilege last Fall of walking through the Dolly Sods wilderness with some of these graduating seniors in a search for a young man named Jacob Allen. The search itself made national news, and we were among the first to see Jacob when he was found.

Why was this such a privilege for me? Well there were a number of reasons. In a sense, this speech made up for the fact that, while I was valedictorian at my high school, we didn't have a valedictorian speech. So here I was, years later, giving a commencement speech to another group of graduating seniors. The irony is that I highly question whether I would have anything to say back then that would have any eternal significance--I didn't know Christ, and God has poured so much into me in the years since then.

So I spoke to this group of seniors, and this class is dynamic. Many of us frail two-legged human beings have aspirations of changing the world. These graduating seniors will change the world. They've already marked themselves as leaders on their campus, in the city, and in the region.

As I talked with these seniors, I remembered stories we had shared over the last several months, and opportunities these men and women will have.

I challenged them to passionately live out their faith, and to seek to live with their eyes open so that a future generation might not accuse them of sleeping through some of the critical issues their generation of the church will have to deal with and find solutions to for the glory of Christ.

You see, a couple hundred years ago, slavery was endorsed in America and Europe. The church of that age was quietly conceding to what the rest of society had dictated. We look back from 2008 and wonder how in the world could the church have slept through that one. Of course it is noteworthy that eventually it was individuals in the church who worked to end slavery. You see, we are called to be part of the solution.

Future generations might ask them about what they did to eliminate extreme poverty--or "stupid poverty" as Bono calls it. This is the kind of poverty that can and will have a solution--the question is will our generation of the church be part of the solution?

The environment is another issue demanding our attention. Future generations will probably wonder how we could produce refuse on such a grand scale with so little regard for future generations. Among my own people, we are challenged with a cultural responsibility to think about how our decisions will impact seven generations beyond us. That is helpful in an effort to become a better steward.

But in the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it that is important. We could grab hold of every cause in the world, and it wouldn't be a bad thing, but if we grabbed hold of these causes and leave Christ behind--we have missed the point and lost the plot.

You see, our challenge is to hold the newspapers in one hand and the Bible in the other, and allow the Word of God to direct our communities to find solutions to the problems we read about, and we do all of this for the glory of Christ!

May we all look to contribute our share to solving these problems and telling people of the great King whom we serve as we labor that they also might join in service to the King for the sake of the whole world.

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