LEARNING CHRIST AND GRADUATING FROM GOD’S COLLEGE

LEARNING CHRIST AND GRADUATING FROM GOD’S COLLEGE

Graduation is a special day; because it marks not only the end of a phase and journey; it also marks the day when the graduate is finally ready, finally recognized as being qualified to begin another. It is no surprise then that many institutions call this day, Commencement.

But did you know that as believers, we too have our Commencement? Indeed, Paul tell us that

“if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him,…” Ephesians 4:21

Then it can be said that we have “learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20).

But what does it mean to have ‘learned Christ’? And how do we know if we have truly ‘learned Christ’?

Recruiters and bosses are all too familiar with this scenario. You need a member of staff with a specific skill set, so you search for universities who offer such courses. When you find a good match, you go out and hire a graduate from that faculty of that university. But when he finally turns up for work, to your horror, you realize that he really hasn’t acquired the knowledge and skills which he was to have acquired.

And this has become such a common experience that now, your qualifications alone are no longer sufficient evidence that you have acquired a specific set of knowledge and skills. Companies need to administer aptitude tests and ask for demonstrations of skills to ensure that the candidate is the real McCoy.

Sadly, this is true even amongst us believers, isn’t it? There are some of us who really are ‘all talk’. In fact, when I was growing up, there was the label of ‘The Sunday Christian’ given to such people who act all holy only on Sunday, but live in sin for the rest of the week.

Clearly then, there are those who treat the display of Christian symbols, signs and habits as their ‘Diploma Certificate’ in Christianity, and treat the cross around their necks as a ‘privilege card’.

But what about us? What about those of us who truly believe and have a heart for God? How do we know if we have truly ‘learned Christ’?

Well, Paul gives us some guidelines, and he starts with our walk.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Ephesians 4:17-19

It’s rather logical, isn’t it? How do we know if a graduate has truly acquired the skills he is supposed to have? By letting him demonstrate it.

So how do we know if we have truly ‘learned Christ’? That’s right, by seeing if we too demonstrate His actions in our lives. And Paul begins with a list of what not to do.

Don’t walk as the world does. Don’t have your understanding darkened. Don’t alienate yourself from the life of God. Don’t have your heart blinded and your feelings dulled. Or simply put,

“…that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.” Ephesians 4:17-19 [MSG]

Instead, we are told that

“Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:22-24 [MSG]

But what does this really mean? Practically, it means these.

“What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth.” Ephesians 4:25 [MSG]

“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” Ephesians 4:26-27 [MSG]

“…Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.” Ephesians 4:28 [MSG]

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29 [MSG]

“Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 [MSG]

And finally,

“Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.” Ephesians 4:30 [MSG]

Now, I know what you are thinking. Another list of Dos and Don’ts. Didn’t we leave this behind when we left the Law of Moses behind? Well, we did, but this is different.

You see, with the Law of Moses, the focus was on your ability to follow those instructions with precision. Because you were either rewarded or cursed according to your obedience; for we remember that

“…all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:” Deuteronomy 28:2

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” Deuteronomy 28:15

But this time, these guidelines for daily living are really given because all God really wants is for us to

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1-2 [MSG]

Notice where the focus is now? It’s no longer on your actions, but on Christ’s actions. The focus is no longer on how good you can be, but on how good Christ has been to you. God doesn’t want to see how good you can be. God wants you to know, feel, experience and be constantly reminded of how good Jesus has been to you. That is really His point right now. For remember that

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

So you measuring up to His expectations is no longer the point.

Beloved child of God, after Jesus and because of Jesus, our Father no longer gives us lists of Do’s and Don’ts. While the guidelines that He gives are there to help guide us on how we are to live, but more importantly, these guidelines remind us of just how loved we are.

So how do we know if we have effectively ‘learned Christ’ and graduated from God’s college? We know when we are constantly aware of just how loved we are, and just how precious we are to Him.

Let your life reflect that realization and commence your days of living in His protection, provision and love.

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