Sunday, June 10, 2012

Commencement Address for Quisqueya Christian School's Class of 2012

Photo of QCS's Graduation by Brittany Meadth, © June 9, 2012

Welcome friends, family, QCS alumni, board members, and staff.

And Congratulations Quisqueya Christian School’s Class of 2012!

Sr.’s, this is your first High School graduation, my fist QCS graduation, and my first graduation speech. Indeed, it is an evening of firsts.

Thank you for having me as your class speaker. It is an honor and a privilege.

Sr. Class of 2012!

Tonight we are here to celebrate you, but not just you. Tonight we are here to celebrate your accomplishments, but not just your accomplishments.

We are also here to celebrate your parent’s accomplishments in you.

Your family and friends are here to celebrate you, and to celebrate their accomplishment in you.

Quisqueya Christian School celebrates your accomplishments tonight, and we are here to celebrate QCS’s accomplishments in you.

Your teachers are here to celebrate you, and we are here to celebrate our accomplishments in you.

Most importantly, all of us are here to celebrate the accomplishments of Jesus Christ in all of you! Without God, none of us would be here, and none of us could do a thing.

To put it plainly, you did not get here alone.

Congratulations to all of you! Congratulations as well to all of you here who helped this Sr. Class get to this point and to get to this genesis of God’s next for their lives.

Sr. Class, tonight as we celebrate, we do celebrate you. And while tonight you are the focus, life is not about you.

“It's not about you.” These are the first four words in a book you may have heard about, or read, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. When this book hit the shelves of bookstores everywhere, it was an instant best seller. The beginning words, “It's not about you,” are an affront to what the culture and the world around us teaches.

According to Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, our world has “become increasingly me-centered.” However, life is not about you Class of 2012. It is not about you!

This graduation is also not an end. This is a beginning of great things to come.

To quote Andy Crouch, the author of Culture Making, “The essence of childhood is innocence. The essence of youth is awareness. The essence of adulthood is responsibility.” Sr.’s, you are moving from youth and entering into adulthood where many responsibilities await you.

This is a beginning.

Your class motto for this year has been, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

You may have heard a version of this in the Spider Man movie that came out in 2002. "With great power comes great responsibility,” wrote Stan Lee, the author of Spider Man. He wrote this into the Spider Man comics around 1962, but the quote is even older than this.

In Luke 12:48, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

Your class motto did not originate from you. It did not originate from QCS. It did not originate from Spider Man in the 1960’s. Your motto is from scripture and originated from our Lord Himself.

Sr. Class, you have been given so much from your parents, from your family and friends, and from Quisqueya Christian School. Most importantly, God has blessed you and has given you so much. With this level of blessing, with this level of education and with this level of opportunity, comes great responsibility.

There is a greater expectation of you now. There are greater requirements. The world needs you to influence it for Christ’s sake and for His kingdom. You are to be agents of change and transformation. The world is broken and hurting and needs to know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sr. class, we expect greatness from you.

Sr. Class, as beloved children of God, who have been given so much, you are leaders, not future leaders, but leaders. You are leaders of your families, of your country, of your churches, and you are leaders and influencers of the world around you.

You are also leaders of culture. You are pioneers who will determine the future. To quote again from Andy Crouch, and from Culture Making, “The only way to change culture is to create culture.” If you all are to change the world, you must be creators and cultivators of the cultures around you by the power of God at work in you.

Andy Crouch addresses this “Culture Making” on his web site, and in his book Culture Making, when he says:

“It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture.”

“Something exciting is happening at the intersection of Christianity and culture. Christians are becoming dissatisfied with the postures they adopted toward culture in the twentieth century: condemning it, critiquing it, copying it, or just consuming it. More and more, we want to be people who cultivate: people who tend and keep what is good. And we want to be people who create: adding new cultural goods that move the horizons of the possible in places as wide as the world and as small as a home.”

In other words, do what Paul asked the Colossian church to do in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Paul also talked about resisting conformity to this world, and shaping culture, in Romans 12:1-2, from The Message, when he said:

“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Sr. Class, my hope for you all is that you join in with God in His work, and cultivate your culture. I pray that you do not conform to this world, but be transformed by God, and become transformation agents of God in the world.

As leaders, as High School Graduates going off to higher education and going into the world, your calling is a high calling. You are called not to mimic or imitate the world around you; you are called to shape it. You are called to create culture and not merely fall into it, or be shaped by it. You can lead, or you can follow. You can shape, or be shaped. The choice is yours.

This is what Paul was telling Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, one of your class verses for this year. Paul said, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.”

These were the elder Paul’s words to younger Timothy and they are equally as relevant to us all today. Paul was telling Timothy to lead, pioneer the way, shape the culture of the church, to serve and influence, recognizing that it is not about him, and thereby shape the world for Christ.

Paul tells Timothy to shape culture, and to live as an example in these six ways in 1 Timothy 4:12: in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.

We will look briefly at these six ways of cultivation and influence now.

One, Paul was asserting that our words influence. As you all go out into the world, may you be an example to the world around you and shape it by speaking God’s truth and His life giving words with your speech. May your words reflect God and may they shape and influence the culture around you.

Two, your conduct also influences. As you take action, create, socialize, live, study and work, may your actions cultivate and create a culture that reflects Jesus, and makes your parents, family, friends, and QCS proud. May your conduct shape the world into a better place and make you an example of Jesus to the world.

Three, live a life of love. As you leave here and go into God’s next for you, would you love like Jesus, and sacrificially lay your life down for others in the world. May the world experience the love of Christ because of your presence and love in the world.

Four, may the Spirit of Jesus Christ be in you, flow through you, and empower you in all you do. Would the world experience the very Spirit of God through His spirit dwelling richly in you.

Five, as you leave here and move into God’s plans for your life, may your faith be an example to everyone around you. Would you step out boldly and fearlessly as men and women of faith who have put their trust in God. May your faith bring others to faith in Jesus.

Six, may you live lives of purity as examples to others of God’s righteousness. Would your purity be so evident that it contributes to Christ’s purification and restoration of His creation. May you add purity to an impure culture and world, through your obedience and submission to God and His righteousness in you.

Finally, may you remember Colossians 3:17, that “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Remember that this life is not about you. This life is about Jesus and His work. May you serve Him well and live for Him daily. As you transform, may you see the world transform as well.

May you not be copycat followers, but culture makers and cultivators. Be the leaders that Christ has created and equipped you to be.

And as Paul asserts in your final class verses in Philippians 3:13-14, and I paraphrase, “[Brothers and sisters], . . . do not count [yourselves] to have apprehended [it]; [do this one thing], [forget] those things which are behind and [reach] forward to those things which are ahead, press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Blessing and Prayer

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!” – Hebrews 13:20-21

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