Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
June is here. Yep, for us in the northern hemisphere, that means its getting warmer. For us who are citizens of the United States, it also means that our students who just completed twelfth grade are graduating. Some see this as a rite of passage as these kids leave formal education behind and begin life in the working world. Others simply see this as a step from one form of educational structure to the next, that is to say, college. Either way, there is something special about getting that diploma and being able to look back at what it took to get to that point.
It could be said that there is nothing like this in the Christian faith. Lets be honest, we don’t really “arrive” at the throne of God until we die. There isn’t a point at which we can say we’ve mastered and overcome our sinful nature. At no time in this life can we hope to achieve the righteousness of God. Nope. For the believing Christian, there is nothing in this life that is even remotely like graduation.
However, we will all eventually die. Now that may sound like bad news. In a way, I suppose that it is. The simple fact of the matter is that we don’t like to face our own mortality. Indeed, many are frightened at the thought of what may or may not lie beyond the end of this life. Oddly, for the Christian, there is no need to fear death.
Death is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, man or woman, young or old, we will all die. There is no exception to this. Indeed, in Hebrews chapter nine, we read “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”. Judgment? Seriously? What happened to “judge not”? Nothing happened. The verse is from Matthew chapter seven and it reads “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
Yes, we will be judged. However, it is God who will be judging. Just think about it and let that sink in for a moment. God knows full well everything that we have ever done. For the unbeliever, that is bad news. Not only is God aware of how the unbeliever has lived, but also how they have denied God and his authority over their lives. Believers are not necessarily in better shape, but we are certainly not in worse shape. God knows our faults and failings too. However, he knows something else. Specifically, the we confessed that Christ Jesus, the only son of God, was our Lord and Savior.
Yes, even Christians will have to stand judgment before God. Some of us may be judged quite severely, and we likely deserve it. The Apostle Paul considered himself the chief of sinners, thus he knew full well his sinful nature and how he fully deserved God’s wrath for his sins. Let that sink in for a moment. The great evangelist considered himself the worst of sinners. If the man who wrote the bulk of the New Testament canon thought himself that wretched, how much more so are we? Humbling, isn’t it?
Graduation is often treated as a time of pride and achievement. Death is not. Yet, both are an end to a phase of life. Perhaps the pride at graduation would best be tempered by a humble look not only upon what has been accomplished, rather also upon that which is to come next.
Death is inevitable. Don’t think to yourself that you can escape it. Yes, there may well be a generation that does not see death. However, don’t convince yourself that you are part of it. Doing so only leads to pride. The Bible states clearly “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”, this is in the book of Proverbs. Live a life of vanity and pride, and everlasting destruction is the judgment that you will receive.
So what then shall I say? Is this merely a whimsical look upon death and God’s final judgment? Maybe. However, I see it different. Pride destroys all it encounters. When you live your life in a proud and boastful manner, you will eventually be brought low. Don’t, in foolish pride, brag about how much better you are, for you will be put to task and possibly brought low. Indeed, such bragging has been a source of termination in some job situations. How humbling it is to lose your job because your actions did not match your words. However, think not that at the judgment that because you are a good person or that you kept the Law of God, that you are entitled to enter into Paradise. You aren’t. It is only by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus that we can hope to enter into Paradise.
So, is there anything here? Yes. You may graduate from many types of schools and training institutions. You might full well have a wall full of diplomas and certificates (I certainly do). However, none of it is to any avail. Those little pieces of paper are temporary and only demonstrate that you put forth an effort to do something in this life. Taking pride in those will only lead you astray and then you may find yourself being brought low.
Graduation is a time to celebrate the end of one phase of life and the beginning of the next. However, do not be so prideful as to forget that at the end of this life, there is one more phase. That is when we die and are received into eternity. At that time we will stand before the throne of God and we shall be judged. May it be that you are found to have this confession, that you are a sinner who is saved by God’s grace through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus upon the cross for your sins and his resurrection from the grave. If you must boast, boast in that, otherwise, do not boast at all.