2013 Graduation Address--Kyle Ochsner

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Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father we are at one of the many stopping points in our lives where we pause and reflect on your mercies over the past years.  We thank you for your loving care of these graduates through their lives.  Help us all to look to your presence in our pasts in order to have confidence that you will be with us as we step forward into the future.  Amen.

Forgetting School

I don’t remember my graduation address.  I can’t remember the text, the intro, any specific details or even the entire point of my graduation address.  Parents, do you remember yours?  Some might, most won’t.  Parents, what do you remember about high school in general?

What do I remember about high school in general?  

  • I remember that I took German class,  but at this point I remember no more than 10 German words.  (Ich kann nicht spreche deutch.)  
  • I remember taking a bunch of English classes, but I don’t remember the difference between nominative and objective case pronouns when used as the subject of an elliptical clause, (yeah, I got that from Owings)
  • I’m sure I took history and geography courses, but today I don’t even know the capital of anywhere.  
  • I remember more of my math and science classes, because they are more important.  Okay, actually it’s because I still use those concepts regularly in the classroom.  If I weren’t teaching it today, I would forget the nerdy stuff as well.

What about all the memories outside of the classroom?  I remember losing a lot of basketball games.  It's a blessing that I don’t remember many of the details of those games.  I remember a surprisingly small sample of all the amazing memories I was sure I was never going to forget. I remember the general sentiment of high school and a very small set of highlight moments, but most of it I have partially or completely forgotten.

So what is the point of it all?

Graduates, like me, your parents have forgotten most of what they learned in high school.

Your parents probably have forgotten most of the experiences of high school.

Why did they even go to high school?

What do we have left after we’ve forgotten all these things?

Education Remains after Forgetting

Einstein said, “Education is what remains after you’ve forgotten everything you learned in school.”  Yes, Einstein was the genius guy who dropped out of school when he was 16.  He returned to complete many more years of school afterwards.  His point is not that education is worth forgetting.  His point is actually the opposite.  The education is what remains after all the forgetting.

Academically you will forget the details, but what will you remember?   

We pray you will remember...

  • How to be successful in school.
    • Focus on your work and block out distractions
    • Listen actively to the presentation of information
    • Be diligent about homework
    • To assess yourself and be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses
    • How to study in order to fill in any weaknesses
    • How to work together with your peers
    • How to work hard when you really don’t want to
  • Learn to manage your responsibilities in general
  • If you apply yourself and work hard, you will overcome obstacles and be successful.

You will need these things to be successful in any career you pursue.

What about Spiritual Forgetting?

This school is not all about academics.

  • Although it is our goal to prepare you for college, it is not our only goal.
  • Although it is important to us to lay the foundations for future career success, it's not the most important thing we do.
  • This is Immanuel.  This is about faith.  

This whole discussion about forgetting, suddenly becomes much more critical.  The consequences now reach beyond college or careers but into eternity.  What will you forget?  

You will forget the details of the religion courses, just like you will the other courses.

You will forget the spiritual elements of the other courses.

Since 7th grade you have sat through approximately 1000 chapel talks.  That’s about 200 hours.  That’s over a full week of chapels.  You might remember two or three. You might not remember any at all.

Was it all worth it?  What was the point of it all?  What will you have after you have forgotten it all?

I think Einstein’s quote still holds true.  

Education is what remains after you forget everything you learned in school.  

We pray that Christian Education is what remains after you forget everything you learned at Immanuel.  We pray that faith is what remains after you forget everything you learned at Immanuel.

Faith is not so much about what you remember with your mind, but what you treasure in your heart.  As teachers we know many of our efforts to shape your minds will be short term at best.  We hope that the efforts we’ve made to spiritually shape your hearts will have more lasting effects.

Let’s finally get to our text for this afternoon.

 Paul Knew Nothing Except Christ

Our text is from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth.  He is writing to them, thinking back to when he first met them.  This is what he says in I Corinthians 2:2.

I Corinthians 2:2

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

This is similar to the discussion we’ve had up to this point.  Paul says he didn’t know anything except Jesus Christ.  Paul didn’t say, like we’ve been saying, that he forgot everything else.  He says he resolved to know nothing else.  It wasn’t something that happened to him despite his efforts to remember, it was something that he decided to do!  Why would he do that?

We need more context.

I Corinthians 2:1

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Paul is speaking to the Corinthians.  He proclaimed the testimony about God.  This is when he resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ.  

Graduates, you are leaving the safety of this school.  By this school I mean this building, your peers, and your teachers.  It’s been as many as twelve years for many of you.  I’m sure you’re ready to get out of here.  You’re ready to see new buildings.  You’re ready for new friends.  And I know, you are ready for new teachers.  You are going out into the world.  You will find many opportunities to share your testimony about God.  In many ways, you are right where Paul was when he wrote our text.  Let’s read more.

Demonstration of the Spirit

I Corinthians 2:3-5

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Paul did not bring eloquence, human wisdom, wise words, or persuasive words.

Paul did bring weakness, great fear, trembling, and a demonstration of the Spirit's power.

So everything is about the same for Paul’s experience and yours, but what about the demonstration of the spirit’s power?  Paul healed the sick and cast out demons.  What can you do?  What will be your demonstration of the Spirit’s power?  It better be good if it is going to overcome all the other factors.  So what is it?

Your demonstration of the Spirit’s power might not be as dramatic as Paul’s but it is as effective.  Your demonstration comes through your daily actions as a young Christian.  

You were once demon possessed like the rest of the world...

Your actions which demonstrate the Spirit’s power, reinforce the fact that as Paul said, “Faith does not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s Power.”

What God Has Prepared

I Corinthians 2

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”

The Things God Has Prepared

What has God prepared for you?  Do you know?  Some of you know where you are going to school for the next year or years.  Some of you are less certain.  Some of you might have very little confidence at all in what is coming.  Those of you who are laser focused on a path, you’re likely going to change that path to some degree.  Those of you who don’t know, the path will be shown to you at some point.  

We don’t know what the Lord has planned for us, but we know He will be with us.

We don’t know the details but we know a few things.  

We will have opportunities to share our testimony about God.

Conclusion

So forget about the difference between nominative and objective case pronouns when used as the subject of an elliptical clause.

Forget about how to conjugate verbs in German and Spanish.

Forget about what year the Magna Carta was signed.

(Outgoing Faculty, Mr. Roehl and Mr. Owings:  your students will forget much of what you taught them, but they will not forget the years of dedication and service which you’ve given to them and to this school.)

Forget about the volume of a sphere or the electron configuration of Oxygen.

Never forget the price paid for your sins on the cross.

Never forget that our own fears, trembling, lack of eloquence, and all of our weaknesses are overshadowed by the power of the Spirit of God working in our lives.

Never forget to share our testimony about God when we come to those opportunities.

Never forget that although we don’t know what He has prepared for us, He will be with us every step of the way.  Amen.

Mr. Kyle Ochsner