Matthew 7:13-23
“College Bound”
Pastor Todd Buurstra

Our church is about to send 60 kids to college, can you believe that?! And some of them are here today! Now we’ve never made a big deal about this send off before, but maybe its that I’ve known these guys since they were in elementary school, or maybe its because I’m preparing our first college visits this fall, I don’t know, but I sense God wants us to make a bigger deal of this. I do that realizing that 90% of you are not going to college, and are glad of it! But listen with those 60 in mind from God’s family at NBRC.

College bound! No more Mom telling you to pick up dirty laundry. No more Dad lecturing you on spending money. No more rules or curfews, and all the drugs, sex, and rock and roll that you could ever want! To paraphrase Dr. King: You’re free at last…

Now this freedom has positive and negative sides. On the positive side, God gives freedom to help you discover your calling in life. And that’s the greatest discovery you’ll ever make! God’s calling is not just your major, or how you can eventually get paid for using it, it’s the discovery of who you are and what you believe. Foundational stuff!

On the negative side, all adults here can think of examples where that freedom was misused. I think of nephew Tim, who discovered a fermented grain product, called beer, at MSU. Today Tim says that he so crawled into the bottle that some of college evaporated in a haze. Apparently he was having a hard time keeping his head out of the porcelain throne on Graduation Day. And then there is Tammy. Tammy, whose name is changed, was a very active member of this family during high school. But by the end of college, at a lunch at Lukas Diner, Tammy told me that she no longer believed in organized religion because school had taught her that most of what religion did was start wars. I reminded her that religion had also started hospitals, charities, morality, spirituality…but to no avail.

So, given the blessings and curses of freedom, how does NBRC help our 60 college bound kids find God’s call for their lives?

First with Jesus’ wisdom right here. But if you take a religion class at your secular university, and I hope you do, your professor Dr. I. B. Lieve Little will tell you that Jesus probably didn’t preach this all in one sermon on a mount overlooking the Sea of Galilee. What?! Mr. Soskey or Mr. Sandford, and Pastors Todd and Mark lied to me?! No, Professor I. B. Lieve Little is looking at the Bible through a historical method called S1a HIGHER CRITICISM. Higher Criticism intends to blow your Sunday School faith out of the water by discovering that Matthew probably collected different sayings of Jesus in one place and called it the mount that overlooks the Sea of Galilee. The Bible is lying?! No, maybe Jesus preached there often, or maybe this is a collection of sayings from there? But the Bible is less interested in giving you a 21st century historical view of exactly where things were said and when, and more interested in literary devices to convey the message. So here’s how you impress Professor I. B. Lieve Little. Ask him, Sir, could you explain how Canonical Criticism addresses this? Canonical criticism gets past Higher criti-cism’s majoring in the minor details to major on the message. Just what was Jesus trying to say here? A steak dinner to anyone who pulls this off in class and emails me the results.

So what is Jesus’ wisdom to discover your calling in life? First, you find God’s will for your life on the road less traveled. It makes sense right? If you go along with the crowd on the broad road, you may find the culture’s calling, but the road less traveled, the narrow road, is narrow, partly because God made it just wide enough for Jesus and you.

Interesting that both Tim and Tammy are going back to school to change their majors right now. I wonder if Tim’s broad road of beer consumption and Tammy’s broad road of politically correct learning made it harder for them to find God’s narrow road, just wide enough for Jesus and them? So how do you find Jesus’ narrow road? A few hints:

  • Study more than you party.
  • Extreme living may be more fun, but balanced living is more healthy.
  • Develop your soul as much as your brain and body.

Secondly, know that false prophets will try to lure you off your narrow road with Jesus. Along with Tim’s guzzling ways, he met a false prophet spelled with an f. He racked up such credit card debt that he was paying years after for stuff that he no longer needed. Tammy met the false prophet, with a ph, of lopsided truth: only the negative of organized religion without the overwhelming positive. So both ended up on the broad road

How do you know if a false prophet is luring you off the path? Jesus says, by their fruits. In other words, is this activity or product or person just fun for the moment? Or does it nourish my soul. Good fruit along the narrow way nourishes soul and body forever.

Lastly, the ultimate goal is to please God through your calling for life. Because at life’s end if you stand before your Maker and say, Lord, Lord, did I not get a masters degree from Rutgers, and did I not graduate magna cum laude, and work at a Fortune 500 company, God will not be impressed. If that’s the sum total of your life than no matter your major, you majored in the minors. But if you can answer, Lord, Lord, I used my education to serve you and others by… God will say, Well done, good and faithful servant enter into my joy! You want to know my best secret to integrate your education with your faith in college? Belong to a faith-based group, in order to believe and behave according to your calling. Hang with good folk and your road will be smooth sailing!

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