If I could sum up my graduation in one word it would be finality. Graduation was the period in the last paragraph on the last page of that chapter in my life. At my university you cross the stage, get your diploma, then exit this grand arch, symbolizing your exit from the institution. Liberating finality.
I received a lot of graduation cards that were filled with well wishes and congratulations. A lot of cards had these ‘it’s your turn now, go out there and make a difference’ type of messages. But there was one card in particular that stood out to me, it read, “You are the future for believers.” The individual is a long time friend. I don’t want her words to get misquoted. She is a believer and understands that the only future and hope is in Jesus Christ. But what she was communicating in that sentence was a charge, a responsibility, it was a benediction.
The charge, to care for believers to come. The responsibility: the future church. The body parts that will take over after I am removed. The benediction: the blessing to go forth and do this. The guidance: this is what I should do. I have a role to play for future believers. See, the task in college had been to specialize in a subject & then to study that subject so that upon graduation I could go out into the world and apply my expertise in a given field. For the past four years my classmates and I had been readying ourselves. But as a student of Christ, a follower, a disciple of Christ, what was the task?
“Create disciples who make disciples. Disciple Cycles. ”
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve begun to fully realize that my generation is becoming the church. The elders in my community of believers have been extending their hands to my generation for several years now. And slowly they are beginning to pull us into position. My peers are beginning to preach from the pulpit, lead Bible studies, conduct major church events, and disciple. My generation has become exceedingly involved with the youth, so while we’re still holding on to the hands of our elders, we’re turning around and reaching our hands out to the youth, the future of the church.
I’m so reminded of David in this instance. David had a desire to build a temple for God, but God said that the task did not belong to David, but to David’s son Solomon. And David’s response blows me away. He looks at his son Solomon and recognizes that Solomon is inexperienced and immature, so in a great display of selflessness David begins to lay out instructions for the temple, he begins to gather materials from far off lands and store them up for Solomon to use, he blesses Solomon, gives him words of wisdom and wishes him success.
David realizes he isn’t the end all be all king of Israel, he can’t do it all, and there will be kings after him, but he prepares the way. The greater David, Jesus Christ, was the way, He laid down His life to prepare the way to the Father, He discipled and gave instruction to disciples. He knew that although He is always with us, His physical manifested presence would not always be with us. He prophesied that in times to come the church would do greater things than He had done while on earth, so He prepared the way and equipped us to do these greater things.
I’m so grateful for these realizations because they’ve given me tunnel vision. I see outside myself, I see the church outside my generation. I see the opportunity for me to bless the younger generation, I see the opportunity to better myself for them. I want to study more diligently, because I am not just gathering knowledge for myself but also for them. When I listen to sermons, I’m not listening just for me, but I’m gathering wisdom for those to come. As we experience success and failures in our ministry, we’re not gaining this experience just for us to learn from. I’m so encouraged to be the future for believers.