This morning, I had the privilege of speaking at the award ceremony for Christ Covenant’s inductees into the National Junior Honor Society. The audience was made up of upper elementary and middle schoolers plus several of the parents and faculty. This audio is only 11 minutes long which means that you could knock it out on a lunch break or on a car ride. Below the audio, I have included the manuscript that I tried to follow along but (as some of you might laugh at) I went “off script” at some points.
First off, I would like to say thank you to Cheri Creel for asking me to deliver this charge to those of you inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. Secondly, I want to congratulate those of you who are being inducted today and those of you who have been inducted already. Just to give you a fair warning, all of you have already achieved more academic awards than I have and I only know of there being one award which you have achieved.
But, what I do know is that those of you who have been inducted and are being inducted in the Society have done so mainly in two ways: Hard work and thoughtfulness. Interestingly enough, these are two of the biggest qualities that seem to be lacking in the world today. You are growing up in a society that no longer treasures wisdom and discretion but rather places value on what’s trending, following your heart, and finding your own inner peace.
Your generation, Generation Z, is the largest generation in America and in twenty years you will not just be the biggest influences in the country but you will control the ideals and values of the country. This could be tragic because the average teenager spends an average of 9 hours online every day. These 9 hours are not filled with much wisdom and discretion but rather they are filled with things like Fortnite videos, Kylie Jenner’s Instagram, sports highlights, Snapchat pictures, Spotify music, and more group texting than you can keep up with. If you lived for 60 more years and spent only an average of 5 hours online or on technology a day, you would spend 12 and a half years on your technology. If you stayed with the average hours of today then you would spend 24 years on technology. The problem with this is that very little of we look at today adds wisdom or discretion to your life.
Now, why do I say all that? You are all around 10-14 years old right now. The average American lives 78 years. If you lived to the average age, you would only have 65 or so years left. But none of you are guaranteed to live that long. Your clock is ticking and you only have a few years left to live this life before you meet your Maker at your death day. You will have to answer to God on that last day what you did between now and then. God has given you one life to live and that life is meant to be lived for His glory at all times and in all ways.
The fact that you are being inducted into this society shows us that God has given you a mind to think, a work ethic and drive to pursue more knowledge, and a desire to discover truth. What a tragedy it would be to spend 12 years or 24 years of your life wasting away before your phone looking at things that have no eternal value when the God of all glory and beauty and majesty offers you a life to glorify Him in the world He has made.
God created this world. He created your mind. He created your personality. He created the era and culture into which you were born and He purposefully put you in this age at this time for a specific purpose. Your ultimate purpose for being on this earth is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. One of the ways you must pursue this is in the offering of your mind to God.
God has given us right thinking in order to produce right living. He has shown us His glory in the world and in the Word and given us minds to think about each one so that we might live out our purpose in our lifetime. When we waste these gifts that God has given us, we don’t just look bad in front of others. Rather, we reveal in our hearts that we could care less about glorifying God and we would rather ourselves get the glory. The fact that God would even allow you to receive this honor is for the purpose of reminding you that you have the capability and responsibility of pursuing Him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. For, we also need to remember this: What does it matter if you gain the entire world and yet lose your soul?
Wasting your academic gifts can happen in several ways. First, you can immerse yourself in all the studies in the world and yet never seek to know God. Second, you can go a little season of your life reading about God and staying in His Word to only then get busy with other things and go on as if your fine because of your past experiences. Third, you can even seek to know everything God says in His Word and yet never submit to Him in your heart. All of these are a tragedy and far too common in the world and the Church today.
Now, why do I say all that in this way? There have been few things that have discouraged me more than to see students grow up in the church and in solid Christian schools to only grow distant from God in high school, abandon the church in college, and deny the faith altogether. It is also a tragedy, and maybe even a bigger tragedy, to see students who have all the mental capabilities in the world and yet to never open their Bibles to dig into the deepest knowledge that the world has ever known.
God has given us logic for the sake of loving God and loving others. God has given us reasoning skills for the sake of rejoicing in His glory and His gospel. God has given us the ability for reflection and meditation for the sake of gazing upon His beauty. The head is meant to serve the heart. There is no subject so beautiful, so amazing, so majestic, so worthwhile, so jaw-dropping, so gripping, so astonishing, and so breathtaking as the good news that Jesus, very God of very God, became just like us in order to take God’s wrath so that we could actually live a life of glorifying and enjoying God. Jesus died so that He could redeem your mind and mental abilities in order to see and savor His infinite worth and glory. If you are a Christian, you don’t only have the entire world open to you to study but you have all of heaven opened up for you to study! Jesus died in order that you might think, meditate on, reflect on, be challenged by, have your worldview shaped by, and become convicted by the glory of God and your life in this world. You were meant for more than binge watching Netflix, endless Instagram scrolling, and Fortnite marathons.
What this world needs now more than ever is a generation of Christians who use their minds to become enamored by the glory of God. We need a generation who have some sense of the infinite weight of the glory of God and the brokenness of their own sin and the grace that is found in Jesus Christ. We need teenagers in this room to be known as people who are influenced by the greatness and majesty and the glory of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. We need people who use their minds to think about how God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We need people who know how to think about Christ as the universal ruler over all creation. We need humble students who understand what it means to live all of life for the glory of God at all times. We need people who understand the weight of responding to God’s grace in Jesus Christ and that those who don’t respond will have to be banned from His presence forever. We need teenagers who would use their minds above all things to see that the brief little life that they live on this earth will either end in everlasting joy or everlasting pain based on their response to Jesus Christ in His gospel. We need teenagers who will turn this world upside down with the gospel-centered thinking. We need teenagers who will take this gospel into the homes, schools, neighborhoods, churches, and even to foreign countries. We need people who are passionate to use all their mind to pursue knowing God and making Him known.
I challenge you to be this. I challenge you to not take your life lightly. I challenge you to see that even in an award like this God is calling you to a greater life of devotion to Him and for you to go out and call others to devote their lives to HIm. This is what you’ve been made for.