As I was sitting through an incredible high school graduation ceremony the other day I was flooded with two powerful emotions. First, Joseph Parker Butchko is Cindy and my first-born grandson. Hard to imagine we are old enough to be experiencing this, but never been so proud. Incredible memories of watching this fine young man grow up into the strong Christian he has become.
My second emotion was a little more concerning. I could not help thinking about the world he is about to enter and the challenges he will no doubt face as a follower of Christ. My thoughts went back to a conversation we had around our dinner table just the night before. We talked about the difficulty young Christians encounter today in the form of good friends and peers who do not truly understand the proper Christian world-view.
Many of these young people, while well intentioned, do not possess a realistic understanding of what God’s Word reveals about life. They have bought into a world-view shaped more by their current circumstances, the opinions of other people they may respect or trust and perhaps most significantly, the attitudes of the popular culture of today. As a result, they tend to discount the Bible’s absolutes. A quote I just put on my FaceBook feed perhaps says it best, Absence of a true understanding of "the God who is" will always lead to the pursuit of "a god that you want".
The ceremony we experienced on this day was exceptional. Linfield Christian School is a strong Bible teaching and believing environment dedicated to building young men and women who will be people of Godly character. The Headmaster who gave the Charge said it best, you need to be Christians who will be salty and bright representatives of Jesus in today’s world.
As I sat through the ceremony I pondered what I could tell my grandson that would truly condense my advice to him during this important transition. Two powerful ideas came to me—always love people and never compromise God’s word. While I am persuaded that all graduates who profess to be followers of Christ need to hear this, I am equally convinced there is something here for all of us. Let me explain further.
First, Always love people. No matter who they are, where they have been, what they have done, how they believe or think, ALL people. If there is any one idea that exemplifies what Jesus teaches through His word it is this. We are called to love people like He loved them, unconditionally. The awkwardness we face today is born out the lie that says, you cannot really love me unless you except everything I believe and do.
Dear Christian graduate, please hear me, avoid this trap. You can stand for what the Bible teaches and still love those who do not. As I close in a moment I will give you some practical tips that might help you in this area.
Second and most important, never compromise God’s word. This means that you cannot attempt to water down what Jesus teaches in order to appear more hip or with it. To do so puts you into the category of pursuing a god you want at the exclusion of the God who is. This too is a very dangerous trap and one that far too many who call themselves Christians have fallen into.
Here is the caveat, your ability to not compromise God’s word and be accepted for it is made much easier when you treat people with love in the first place. In other words, the latter, never compromise God’s word, is best facilitated by the former, always love people.
I want to suggest some practical ideas that may help you as you move forward. Whether you are headed off to college or entering the work world; these ideas can help.
- Get connected to a small group of like-minded Christians to do life with. This can create a healthy environment where you can share your successes and failures and pick up valuable ideas and prayer support.
- Consider finding an older person who will commit to being your mentor. Someone who will be there for you, pray for you, and bring correction when necessary.
- Make sure you stay connected to a strong Bible believing local church and get involved in their ministry.
- Form good devotional habits—rise as early as needed in order to read the Word, pray and praise God every single morning. THIS IS CRITICAL FOR AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
- Look for opportunities God may be putting in front of you every day to love others and be a strong witness for Jesus. Every day begin by praying, Lord, do not let me miss the opportunities You may place in front of me today to represent You.
And finally, always remember how special you are to our Lord. He is crazy about you and desires for you to truly become the man or woman He intended.
Eph. 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Eph. 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…