College Summer Series - Seeking God.
"You will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul." - Deuteronomy 4:28-29
There is a fundamental purpose of college, to get a degree. The reason you get a degree? To get a solid job. The reason you want to get a solid job? To earn more money.
Many people think college is a waste of time and money. Statistics couldn't disagree more, debt included. USA Today published an article last year titled, Pay Gap Between College Grads And Everyone Else At A Record, it showed that college graduates earned 56% more in 2015 than their peers who were high school graduates. What's more? That number is increasing. Georgetown University published a study on the pay gap between college grads and high school grads and the numbers were staggering. On average, college grads earn $20,000 more annually and 1 million more over their lifetime. If you're like me you think, "Of course a university advocates for college." So, I looked for other sources.
The New York Times published a story that said, "The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make. The true cost of a college degree is about negative $500,000. That’s right: Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million dollars. This calculates the very real cost of tuition and fees. This amount is then subtracted from the lifetime gap between the earnings of college graduates and high school graduates. After adjusting for inflation and the time value of money, the net cost of college is -$500,000, double what it was three decades ago."
I tell you that for a few reasons. First, there are a lot of people that think college is a waste of time and money, that's just not true. Second, to address a reality, we go to college seeking to earn more money. Third, I wanted to show you that you can earn more, but college is about more than money.
Now, some of you reading this may not have gone to college and this presses on some insecurities. Don't allow that, that's not the point of this at all. I want us all to understand that while some goals are fine and even achievable, if they are the end goal, you will be empty. I'm well aware that there are situations and circumstances that make it more reasonable to not go to college. I have wildly successful friends who didn't go to/finish college. Please refrain from sending me articles that detail how college debt ruined someone's life. I also don't need to read an article about Zuckerberg dropping out. I'm not interested in the outliers right now, I'm interested in the majority.
This post is for everyone. High school grads and college grads alike. Degree or no degree.
Time Keller once said, "Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it." 18-30 is that sweet spot that I call, the chase. The chase to get rich, have sex, live life, and our justification for that is nothing more than the fact that we are young. We have our youth, our skin is still tight, our teeth aren't totally yellow, we have energy, and our obligations are minimal. Few of us are married, have kids, perhaps not even a dog, we can go and do without thinking about much other than ourselves, it breeds greed.
Deuteronomy 4:28 says, "You will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell." When Israel would periodically fall into exile, they would seek created things rather than the Creator of all things (Romans 1:25). We are no different. We don't worship a golden calf or celebrate idols that look like that, but we seek idols none-the-less. We are temporarily focused on the immediate rather than vigilantly set on the eternal. We serve Gods of wood and stone, money, fame, notoriety even in the smallest of ways. It's a spiritual vacuum of trying to fill a never-ending void.
God's passive lessons are so much more difficult than His active lessons. In Israel's history, we can see that often, when they wanted something other than God, the Lord did something you wouldn't expect. The people would ask for something and He would remind them He was enough, but when they continued to ask, He would allow them to have what they want. Sometimes God will allow you to have what you want so that you can see that your desires will leave you empty. Sure, you can go to college seeking to earn more money and statistically you will earn more money. But at what cost? There is nothing wrong with working to provide for yourself and a family down the road, but don't let it be what you seek.
Make the most of your opportunities, but don't let your opportunities make the most of you. Honestly, college is an opportunity to earn more money, but for me, it was about gaining more knowledge. I like studying, I know don't give me grief for it. I think that's why I love putting sermons together though. I love learning, and not only learning, but coming into an understanding of the material that I've learned. I found quickly though, like money, you can seek knowledge above God. I had to learn to seek to know God rather than simply knowing about Him.
Be careful to make the necessary distinctions.
Deuteronomy 4:29, "But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul." God never totally left Israel. He was ready to welcome them back. He watched them leave with the fortune, but He waited to see them come home, and He ran out to meet them.
I don't want you to have to learn this lesson the hard way. In all you do to further yourself on this earth, let it all be for the glory of God. Seek one thing above all else, seek the Lord. If you seek other things, you may find them, but that may be the scariest thing of all. There is only one treasure that never runs out. These are the years where a million different things are grabbing for your attention. Don't get distracted by that which cannot satisfy. Seek what truly satisfies, Jesus.
"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement." - Augustine
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