By Larry J. Baker, Superintendent
Mr. Baker, our superintendent, has been writing a series of devotions for high school and middle school students on our theme of “Fully Devoted. The following is one of those devotionals. It was read in middle and high school classrooms several Fridays ago.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13 – 15
When I was superintendent in another school, I conducted an interview with a family that wanted to enroll in our school. First, I asked some preliminary questions like,
- “Why do you want a Christian education?
- “How badly does your son want to come to our school?
- “Who is Jesus?
- “Can you tell me about your daughter’s personality?
- “What’s the significance of that tattoo she has running down her neck?”
I’m just kidding about that last question; I have never asked that question in an interview. But anyway, after going through some preliminary things and getting them relaxed, I asked them what they did for work. It turned out that the couple operated a Seven-Eleven store not far from the campus. So, then I followed up with one of my favorite questions, “How does your faith make a difference in how you operate your Seven-Eleven.” I could tell from my short time with this couple that they would have a good answer. They were thoughtful people and seemed to think deeply about things. They did not disappoint me.
“Mr. Baker. It gets very busy in our store. Frankly, when there are a lot of customers waiting for service, we don’t have time to talk about Jesus. We are committed to providing excellent service and creating an atmosphere where people feel welcome. We do play Christian music, but mostly, we think the difference is in how we treat people. We try to love them. We’re honest, fair and respectful. And, not to brag, but customers have even told us, ‘There’s something different in here.’ In those instances, we are happy to share what the difference is.”
Contrast that with a conversation I had with a friend who happened to serve on the board of the school in which I worked. One afternoon, we were sitting down over coffee and talking about work. He was a land-developer. He was good at what he did, meaning, he made a boat-load of money. I asked him the same question, “Tell me. How does your faith make a difference in how you do your work?” His answer surprised me.
“Larry, to be honest, I’ve never thought about that.”
Students, teachers, parents, and whoever else is reading or listening to this, indulge me for a few seconds. Reflect on this question: “How does your faith in Jesus make a difference in how you live the minutes and hours of every day?” Think about it. Here is the question again and then there will be a moment of silence. “How does your faith in Jesus make a difference in how you live the minutes and hours of every day?”
[15-seconds of silent reflection]
OK, now, in the future if anyone ever asks you that question, you may not say, “I’ve never thought about that.” That is an unacceptable answer for any graduate of Central Valley Christian High School. You each might come up with different answers to the question. We live out our faith in different ways. We have different personalities, unique skills and varied interests, but if Jesus is Lord, we need to think about how our faith in that Lord makes a difference in our lives.
The more I think about the answer I heard from that Seven-Eleven couple, the more I like it. A fully devoted life doesn’t necessarily mean you’re talking about Jesus all day long. Similarly, you can’t claim to be fully devoted just because you start your day with devotions and prayer. If you volunteer for a 3-week mission trip, but live the rest of your summer as if Jesus did not exist, you are not fully devoted. I think it’s great when young people and adults volunteer to help with vacation Bible school or fix broken-down cabins in Kentucky, or play soccer with children in Guatemala, but fully devoted isn’t something you are for only 15 minutes a day or two or three weeks each year.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
So, are you a Christian? Do you believe that Jesus lived on earth, died on the cross, and rose from the grave? Do you believe that he did that for you? If so, how does that faith make a difference in how you live your life?
Let’s pray about that.
Father, take our lives and let them be ever, only, and all for you. Take our moments and our days. Let them flow in endless praise. Let us praise you when we read your Word, when we pray, when we volunteer at church, when we go on service trips, sing on worship teams and play in praise bands. But, let us also praise you when we sit at lunch, when we rush the quarterback, when we work at the dairy, when we do our English homework, and when we drive our cars. We live in a world that desperately needs you. Help us to be your hands and feet for that world; help us to be the salt and light you’ve called us to be. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.