This next Friday, over 200 young people from our community will walk up to a podium in cap and gown. Some will dance. Some will cry. A couple will most likely do something to make their mothers cringe in embarrassment. All of them will shake their principal’s hand. Then they will receive a piece of paper – a diploma.
According to that piece of paper, they have met the requirements of a high school education. They have taken the classes. They have learned what they need to learn.
For some, their high school diploma is just a stepping stone to higher education. They will go on to college and eventually receive another diploma or two. Others will never set foot in a classroom again.
All of them at some point, however, will end their formal education. They will get on with their lives. They will get jobs and get married. They will have kids and grandkids. They will be done with school.
Carol Burnett once quipped, “We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.” That is the illusion of graduation. Graduation simply means you have received the tools you need to continue to learn the rest of your life. Those who fail to learn that lesson have failed school, no matter what their diploma says.
Many of the young people in our community have received another kind of education through the years. Their parents have taken them to church and Sunday School. They have attended Vacation Bible School. They have gone to youth group outings and youth camps. As Christians, we value highly the importance of instructing our children in God’s Word.
Some of our churches even have ceremonies to mark milestones in that education – First Communion and Confirmation. Sadly, when many of our young people get confirmed, they think they are graduating from God’s Word. When they finish Sunday School, they feel they know everything they need to know.
The truth is, however, a Christian never graduates from God’s Word. As sinful human beings, we have a constant need to continually study the Bible.
We have that need because we so easily forget. A while back, a young woman I know returned to church and Sunday School after taking a couple of years off. Not too long after she came back, she made the comment, “I can’t believe how much of this I had forgotten. I thought I knew what the Bible said. Or maybe I never really learned some of this in the first place.”
And that’s the second reason we never graduate from God’s Word: there is always more to learn. Most Christians tend to overestimate their Bible knowledge and the strength of their faith. The devil loves to keep us content right where we are at. We know what we need to know. Our faith is good just as it is. The truth is, however, we all have room to grow. A faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. Have you moved any mountains lately?
So as you watch our young people happily receive their diplomas this Friday, remember that we don’t stop going to school when we graduate – especially as Christians. A Christian never graduates from God’s Word.