A Word From Pastor Pat

by Pastor Patrick Cho

The 2007-2008 school year is finally winding down and it is an exciting time as the graduating seniors prepare to finish their undergraduate studies in order to enter the working world. For some, it may be the first “full-time” experience they will ever have since being a student was hardly full-time! For others, this transition may be delayed as they apply and pursue graduate degrees and thus more school. Whatever the case, the month of June marks a major milestone in the lives of our graduates. While there should be a sense of pride in their accomplishment, there is also a bit of trepidation because of the sad reality that many collegians when transitioning to working life abandon the things of faith altogether and turn their backs on the Lord.

Certainly one of the deterrents to this spiritual trend is to be established in a good local church. One particular characteristic of a good local church, of course, is that it is committed to the consistent sound teaching of the Word of God. But the graduates are also going to need older godly men and women who are willing and available to invest in them in order to hold them accountable to their profession of faith in Christ. In order for the transition from college to single life to be smooth, they are going to need the influence of others who have been there and experienced the same struggles that come with the transition to watch over them.

This is one of the vital aspects of discipleship ministry that student parachurch organizations cannot replace. Campus Bible studies and Christian student organizations can provide wonderful teaching, fellowship, accountability, prayer, and opportunities for evangelism, but these ministries were not designed for continued discipleship beyond graduation. This is why so many students who only invest themselves in parachurch ministry find the transition after college to be extremely difficult spiritually because their network of Christian fellowship has been removed and their primary source of accountability is gone. The church is intended to provide that spiritual support for these students, but if they are not engaged in the life of the church, they will lose out on this vital support.

However, the biggest reason for this post-graduate struggle is not circumstantial or experiential. In the end, it boils down to the sin in a person’s heart. Even as Christians, we often forget the comprehensive impact and influence sin has on our lives. Sin affects our actions and speech, but we neglect how it can affect our motives, desires, and will. Because of our sin, we do not respond rightly to difficult circumstances. But in the same way, because of our sin, we do not always respond rightly even to blessings. Sin affects our thoughts (Jer. 17:9-10; Rom. 1:21-22) and it affects our motives (James 4:3). Even when a person might feel like his life is characterized by good behavior, the Lord sees past outward actions to the heart (Prov. 16:2; Heb. 4:12).

Since sin is the problem, Christ can be the only real solution. If students do not have Christ as their chief affection, it is no wonder that the riches of the world or selfish ambition might rule their hearts after graduation. The prospect of a full-time salary might become too alluring. For many, it will be more money than they have ever seen. For others, the struggle might be with prestige. The fight to move up the corporate ladder or accomplish personal goals might consume them. When Christ is not central to their thinking and if motives are not filtered through principles of His Word, it is no surprise that so many students fall by the wayside after graduation.

This has been a difficult year for College Life because there have been many students who have struggled with their faith in significant ways. Some have walked away from the things of the Lord entirely and we grieve for them. Others were tempted to, but are hanging on by a thread. Still others are constantly working through doubts and struggles that attack their assurance and cause them to question the sincerity of their faith. Sin has always been the chief problem and so Christ is always going to be the solution. He is our Redeemer. He is the one who breaks the power of sin and sets the prisoner free. It is only through Christ that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2), and it is only through Christ that we can receive the Spirit of God in order to think His thoughts (1 Cor. 2:16).

I want to encourage all of our graduates to take some time to consider who Christ is and what He has accomplished on the cross. On our best day we deserve no better than hell. This is because of our sin-sickness. Our hearts are prone to rebel against our Creator and Lord and because of our sin we deserve eternal judgment. Without Christ, we are self-proclaimed enemies of God and His wrath is directed at us. But it is God in the richness of His mercy and love who redeemed us, changed us, and freed us from the slavery of sin. It is only through Christ’s work on the cross that sin’s penalty is paid for us because He took the full force of the wrath of God for our sins. It is only through Him that our lives could be changed. Do you want to avoid spiritual decline after graduation? The solution is the same as it always has been. Fix your eyes on your glorious Savior who bore your sins on the cross that you might be credited with His righteousness. Without this, all the accountability in the world will not help you. Christ must be all in all (cf. Phil. 3:8; 1 Cor. 8:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:15).

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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