Posted by: Brian Musser | June 15, 2013

Faith After Drexel 2013

On Friday June 7th, DID hosted a celebration connecting current Drexel students, graduating students and alumni for a wonderful evening discussing how life at Drexel can prepare you for you life after Drexel.  I was the keynote speaker for the event and below is the text of my talk.  Several asked for a copy of my remarks so I felt it would be fitting to provide that copy here.

miller-07-largeIn the climatic scene of Saving Private Ryan, Captain John Miller has just finished destroying a tank with his pistol, and a little help from aerial support.  With his dying breath he challenges Private Ryan to “Earn This.  Earn This.”  Several men sacrificed their lives so that Ryan could live his.  It was now his responsibility to live in a way deserving of their sacrifice.  Wasting his life would be wasting theirs.  But now, now he had the opportunity to live a life worthy.

For those of us who are on the brink of completing our Drexel degree (I know some of us have recently done this and even more are anticipating it in the near future) you have sacrificed, and others have sacrificed so that you could be at this moment in your life, maybe not on the level of life and death, but sacrifices have been made.  And as you walk across that stage next week to be handed your blank piece of paper, through you mind will race the thought, “I have earned my Drexel degree.”  That is true.  But another voice will be whispering in your other ear challenging you to “Earn This.”  Earn the sacrifices we have made to make this degree possible.  It may be the voice of your parents, friends, family, teachers, community or church reminding you of the sacrifices they have made to get you here.  “Earn This.”  It may be the voice of God reminding you that you are the product of His design which equipped you with the necessary skills or that you have been place right here and right now by His plan providing this opportunity.  So what does it mean to live a life worthy of others’ sacrifice?  What could Private Ryan do to earn the lives of those men that saved his?

Let’s take a step back for a moment and examine a greater sacrifice that we must live up to.  Although, no one needed to die in order for you to earn your Drexel degree, someone did have to die in order to reconcile you to God.  Romans 5:8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!”  Now you could never do anything to earn your salvation.  You could never do anything to deserve Christ dying for you.  It is ridiculous to even think that we could be worthy enough to demand someone to die for us let alone God.  But since Christ has died for us, since Christ has sacrificed Himself for our salvation, since Christ’s life, death and resurrection has made it possible to reconnect with God, then we should live in a manner worthy of His gift.  Ephesians 2:8 – 10 phrases it like this, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast.  For we are His creation – created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”  We do not live a worthy life so that God will sacrifice Himself for us.  But because God has sacrificed Himself for us we live a worthy life.  So what does it mean to live a life worthy of Christ’s sacrifice?

To live a worthy life requires having a worthy dream.  We all would agree that Martin Luther King Jr. led a worthwhile life.  He was able to live this kind of life because he had a dream.  In his famous speech from 1963 he cast a vision for a great and magnificent dream and after eloquently expounding on that dream he says, “This is the faith that I go back to the South with.  With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”  Dr. King had a dream that was worth his life.  He had a dream that was worth his sacrifice, the sacrifice of others and ultimately the sacrifice of God.

And we know this.  We understand and can recognize worthy lives lived in pursuit of worthy dreams.  We read and re-read books about chasing after passions.  We sing songs about brilliant desires.  We watch movies (over and over again) where men and women overcome to see their visions achieved.  Donald Miller writes about dreams that are not worthwhile in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

MillionMilesCover3d_TransparentBkng_600If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove it off the lot, testing the windshield wipers.  You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen.  The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back.  Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful.  The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.

Dr. King had a worthy dream and lived a worthy life.  Do you have a dream?  Is it big enough?  Is it worthy enough?  If you fulfill your dream will others celebrate?  If you don’t get to fulfill your dream will others cry with you?  Let me just say that paying off your Drexel debt is not a worthy enough dream.  Living a comfortable is a not good enough.  Being happy, content and satisfied is not big enough.  Your dream needs to be bigger, grander, greater.  To be worth the sacrifice your dream needs to be a God-sized dream.  What does Scripture say about God-sized dreams?  Does the Holy Bible present any worthy visions?

Isaiah 2:2-4 (HCSB)

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills.  All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths.”  For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many peoples.  They will turn their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives.  Nations will not take up the sword against other nations, and they will never again train for war.

Revelation 21:3-7 (HCSB)

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:

Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”  And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.  The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.

Throughout Scripture we see this dream of humanity and all of Creation reconciled to God.  Now that is a worthy dream:  The redemption of humanity and the restoration of Creation.  That is worth your life, worth your sacrifice, worth the sacrifice of others and worth the sacrifice of Christ.  Is that your dream; that someday you, us and all of Creation will be brought back to our original state of connectedness with God?  How does the dream of buying a Volvo compare to that dream?  We need to wrap our little dreams up inside of the big dream of God.  God dreams about a restored future.  Are you dreams compatible with God’s dream?

I know some of you have some very worthy dreams.  You want to bring education to the cities in this world that struggle.  You want to teach others how to handle their assets in a way that provides for the future of their entire family.  You want to use churches to teach how to use nutrition to help us bring about God’s kingdom instead of allowing it to limit our health and what is possible.  You want to use grassroots healing networks to facilitate real medical education throughout the world.  These are worthy dreams wrapped up in God’s dream.

Martin Luther King Jr.But… It is not enough to just have a worthy dream.  You must be actively engaging your world in order to make that dream a reality.  It is not enough to just dream the dream but you must also live the life that is worthy.  You see we would not remember Dr. King’s speech from Washington D.C. so vividly if he did not go back to the South, if he did not live a life worthy of the dream he had, if he did not sacrifice his life for that dream.  Washington’s dream means less if the man who spoke those words doesn’t leave and travel back to do his work in Memphis.  So as you move forward,  as you earn this degree, as you earn the sacrifices made for you, as you live a life worthy of Christ’s death, you need to be about making your dream which is wrapped in God’s dream become a reality.  As you move forward having earned a Drexel degree how can you use that degree to fulfill God’s dream?  What can you do to help reconcile this world back to Him?  Whatever your job is (engineer, businessman, teacher, scientist, doctor, musician)  this will be your vocation: caring for God’s creation including humanity and actively reconciling it back to Him.  You are destined and designed to work for God’s kingdom no matter the particular field for which you have trained.

As an animator; how can you tell stories visually that move people to seek the truth?  As a business person; how do you provide commerce that will bring the kingdom of God to our cities instead of bankruptcy and poverty?   As a financier, how do I help people manage their assets in a Godly manner?  As a health specialist, how do I equip others so that their behavior doesn’t impact their health in such a way that it limits their work for the kingdom? As an architect; How do you build structures as if the will be in the New Jerusalem?  As an engineer; how do create machines that bless others?  As an educator; how do help others learn the wisdom of God and not just more knowledge?  How does what we have trained to do here at Drexel fit into our dreams?  And how do our dreams fit into the great dream of God?

You see in Genesis 1 we were created and assigned tasks to display the image of God.  Then in chapter the growing world was put on hold until there was a man to tend the garden.  The entire creation is dependent upon our good work.  Our most intimate personal relationship was specifically designed to be a helper within the context of our God given work.  The first filling of the Holy Spirit recorded in Scripture was for the workers building the Tabernacle.  We see Kings filled with the Spirit to lead the people politically.  All creation, that we were supposed to be tending with God’s power, waits for us.  It is hoping and anticipating that someday we will be actively engaging our true dream as it is wrapped up in God’s dream.  We still have God’s original assignment to care for His creation.  Because we have introduced sin into this world we have another task.  Not only do we have to care for creation but we also have to work with God in reconciling creation.  We are reconciled to be reconcilers.  But the good news is that one day.  One glorious day we will be standing on a new heaven and a new earth, standing in a restored creation, standing with a redeemed humanity, standing as our dream and God’s dream have been fully realized.  And every sacrifice will be worth it.  And we will hopefully be there with the knowledge that we have lived a life worthy of the high calling Christ’s sacrifice places on us.  And this is the faith with which I hope you leave Drexel and go into the world knowing that one day we will carve a monument of hope out of this mountain; knowing that your dream as it is wrapped in God’s dream will be fully realized.  And on the day you will be able to look Captain Miller dead in the eyes, salute and say “Yes Sir, I did earn it!”

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Get Your Daily Phil Here. and commented:
    great post , gave you a follow- http://www.yourdailyphil.com


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