Two weekends, two graduations. Our daughter number three graduated from high school, and daughter number one from college (that’s right, my children have no names, just numbers). It’s that time of year in America! As we transition to summer, hoards of young people walk across the stage, and into another chapter of their lives. They are told the secrets of being successful at the next level, which typically includes hard work, good character, and following their passions. Can you tell I’ve been to my fair share of commencement exercises?
Unfortunately, graduation from high school, college, or a higher level of learning can tempt us to believe that our education is complete. Those of us who graduated a long time ago know that’s just not the case. Sometimes I feel like I began learning all the important life lessons when I entered my thirties! This is especially true when it comes to our walk with Christ. While we can certainly learn many of the stories of the Bible and some of the core doctrines of the faith as children and youth, the real education often takes place as we experience the later challenges of this life. That’s when what we know and believe come to the forefront and are truly learned.
One of the best passages of Scripture that describes our relationship to Jesus Christ in lifelong educational terms is found in Ephesians 4:20-21.
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
Paul begins Ephesians 4 charging the young Christians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling in Christ. This includes growing in humility, gentleness, patience, love, and unity as believers. Then, in the middle of the chapter, he reminds them NOT to walk as the pagans do, with their darkened minds and their futile understanding. Non-believers have not learned the ways of Christ, but reject Him altogether! So then, we get to verse 20, with the all important “BUT”–“but that is not the way you learned Christ…” Using very educational language, Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus to remember ALL that they have learned–something we would tell high school or college graduates. But as Christians, our curriculum is not a specific academic discipline; our subject is Jesus Christ! We learn Christ–not about Christ, but Christ Himself! And we never stop learning Christ, complete our coursework of Christ, or graduate from the School of Christ. When you learn Christ, you are taught IN Christ since He is the TRUTH. Christ is the subject of our lessons, He is the teacher of the subject, and He provides the educational experience for the rest of our lives!
The great temptation for graduates is to say/think something like: “I don’t ever want to read another book in my life!” While I understand the sentiment and appreciate the fatigue, I hope our young people don’t ever stop reading and learning. But more importantly, our Christian young adults must not stop reading God’s Word, and books that teach them the truth of God’s Word and world! They need to keep on learning and never stop. They need to take every opportunity to learn more of Christ and Him Crucified.
Consider also these words from Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy, in II Timothy 3:14-15.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
This is the call to all Christian graduates: CONTINUE! Always believe in the continuing education in the School of Christ! Belief in the gospel brings us salvation, by the power of the regenerating Spirit. But belief in the gospel and ongoing Christian education is what God uses to CONTINUE growing us up in wisdom. So, we never graduate from the School of Christ because our sanctification is always ongoing. That’s why the church and Christian home must always offer education and equipping for all ages, not just children and youth! Our learning is lifelong–which is not burdensome, but freeing! We have a lot to learn, and Christ loves to teach us by His Spirit!