Congratulations! You’ve made it! Elementary, middle school, and high school have been your living, breathing reality for what has seemed like such a long time. Day by day you’ve gone about your normal routines, finishing assignments, work, youth group, and just living through drama with friends and family. You’ve done it! Graduation means things are really changed, and come August, life will look very different for you than it ever has before. It’s right to have strong feelings since you’re saying goodbye to a part of life where you’ve experienced so many memories and emotions, but it’s also right to embrace the changes that are coming, so you can live your life to the full!
Those changes are what I want to talk to you about. I wish I could sit around the table over a pizza and have this talk with you, like we used to do. I would want to look you in the eyes and share with you wisdom from someone who loves you. Since I can’t be there to do that, I’m sending this letter.
Wherever you go in the days ahead, you will encounter people and situations that will tell you there is no absolute truth. You may wonder, and you’ll have friends who will tell you that everybody has to find truth for themselves – they’ll say our journey in this world is about finding pleasure – so we should just do whatever makes us happy in the moment. You’ll face the question, “Does each person ‘find his or her own truth’ or is there a rock to stand on in the middle of a crazy world where everybody is doing whatever they think feels right for them?”
The Bible says that a fool does whatever is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15). He doesn’t consider truth or wisdom. The world has abandoned God’s truth expressed in the Bible – telling God, just like Adam and Eve did in the garden when sin first began, “Oh, that’s what you want from me, God? Hm. Nah. I don’t want to do it your way. I’ll try it on my own.” That’s foolishness. It’s called sin, and it leads to hell.
Not many people – even people in the church – like to talk about sin or the law or hell anymore because we’re become afraid of offending people and damaging our relation- ships with them. But, the Bible teaches us that God’s law exists to show us why we need a Savior (Romans 3:20). We have all broken God’s law and none of us are able to be good enough to earn God’s favor. Because of lies, stealing, lust, or just worshiping other things instead of God – we will all stand before a perfect God on judgment day without an excuse. We are sinners, we broke His law, and we deserve His judgment.
People get angry when someone says they are a sinner. They may respond, “Now, wait! I’m a good person,” and they might look pretty good – compared to all the other sinners around them – but the truth is that they still chose their own way instead of God’s. The Bible says we all did that (Romans 3:23), and there is no possible defense to keep us from God’s judgment except if we’ve repented and placed our trust in Jesus (Romans 10:9). On the cross, perfect Jesus came under God’s judgment of sin so that we wouldn’t have to (Romans 8:24). Because God loves us, He sent Jesus to pay our fine, but if we reject Jesus, we will be judged (John 3:17-18). The truth that Jesus is the only way to be saved from God’s judgment offends a lot of people, but it is true nonetheless (John 14:6). Jesus has already paid for us to be set free, but if we reject Him, we will lose our souls on judgment day. “What will you do with Jesus?” isn’t a small question. It determines our eternal destiny.
I had friends in high school who had trusted in Jesus and believed the Bible was true. One of them went off to a Christian college. The other dreamed of being a missionary. Somewhere in between 2004 and today, they both began to slowly disregard what they knew of Jesus to try living life their own way. They stopped making the Bible their source of guidance and help – and they started turning to every other source of advice. The desire they used to have to know God began to be replaced by a desire to try everything the world could offer. One dove into alcohol and bad relationships and ended up completely denying a relationship with Jesus. The other decided he had believed a lie all his life and now he actively recruits people to reject Jesus and deny belief in God. My friends not only chose a path that will lead them to hell, but their lives are influencing other people to do the same thing.
I’m sharing this with you because our relationship to Jesus is the most important thing in our lives. I know that with all of my heart. God created you to be in living relationship with Him – and the only way to begin that journey is to trust in Jesus. God has exciting plans for our lives – and His ultimate purposes for us are good – though you can be sure that He does not a promise an easy life or a ticket to skip out on suffering. Life will be rough sometimes, and Jesus told His disciples that if they followed Him, people would hate them. Attractive offer, right? 😉 But the truth is, there is an enemy named Satan who is doing everything he can to steal from, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He wants us in hell, because he wants to destroy the thing that God loves most – people. Satan will do whatever he can to deceive us into rejecting Jesus or to get us to live as if Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t matter. If we reject Jesus, we burn in hell. If we live like Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t matter, other people never hear the hope of Jesus… and they will burn in hell.
You graduates have a whole life ahead of you that you can spend however you’d like. I want to encourage you with everything in me to spend your life living for the Kingdom of God. Do it in your hometown with a family or a job – or do it wherever Jesus leads you – but, please, always seek Jesus to be your leader. Please live your life for the One who loves you more than you can imagine and gave Himself as a sacrifice for you. Let your life on earth be a love gift back to Him – and may many others come to know His love and salvation through your lives.
Jesus is the only way to God – the only hope for eternal life – the only payment for our sins – the only One worth giving everything to – and this truth will not change, no matter what the opinion polls say.
I love you so much. I miss hanging out with you. I’m so proud of you today!
Sending a hug from Bangkok,