It is graduation time. The young and some not-so-young are all receiving the reward for their labors at differing levels of education. Our middle son was honored at the University of the Pacific for five years of hard work with two degrees for two different levels of study. It was a proud time for us all.
In this life, when we graduate from an educational institution, it is never the end of our journey. Graduation closes one chapter of our life and truly kicks the door open to the next. We do not get to quit when we receive our diplomas. Rather, it says that we are ready for the next challenges that life has to throw at us. It is time to shift gears and move onward and upward.
In John 3:3-6, Jesus explains the process of being born again. He tells Nicodemus that this is a spiritual process that will change you from one outside the kingdom of God to an insider. It tells you how to graduate spiritually from an ordinary human to a child of God. Please note that this is not to be the end of our spiritual journey, only the beginning.
Maturity is never a comfortable process for most people. There can be growing pains. I like what Paul says about growing spiritually in I Corinthians 13:9-12. Wherever we start in this life, we must keep growing, moving forward, gaining more knowledge of life and of God. It means putting away many childish ways, even some we like.
The writer of the Hebrew letter lets his readers have it for not growing in maturity (Hebrews 5:11-14). They were told that the goal should be to become teachers. In other words, “Hey, grow up …stop acting like spiritual babies and learn some deeper truths that will change your life and be beneficial to others around you.”
Are you growing emotionally and spiritually? Before you answer, check your standard of measurement. If it is just others around you or those sad souls on reality TV shows, you can feel pretty secure. Maybe you have not robbed any banks lately, or kicked your dog, or whatever you deem as evil. Here is God’s standard that many reject — Romans 3:9-18, 23. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s perfection. That means none of us deserves to graduate to heaven. But, there is Romans 6:23 that tells us God has taken care of our problem through Jesus.
Please do your best to earn your advanced degree in living and loving like Jesus. Start by being born again, but don’t stop there. Ultimate graduation comes with the Rapture or our physical death. Then, we get to graduate to our eternal reward. In the mean time, let’s work at keeping the Great Commandment – Matthew 22:36-40.
See you around town and enjoy the day, neighbors.
• The Rev. Ken Hasekamp is minister of Adventure Christian Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.