I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.Revelation 2:17
I have always loved this statement by Jesus in the Book of Revelation. Jesus promises to give us a new name; our true identity.
Today is the beginning of the HSC Exam period for 2021. It has been delayed due to the impact of COVID-19, but it marks the culmination of two years of senior study for our seven Year 12 students: Noah D, Marisa, Noah G, Caitlin, Jackson, Angelina, and Jade. Our Year 11 cohort will also be involved in some of these exams. This is the first time that we have hosted the HSC Exams on site at Kuyper since we began our senior school journey in 2016. It’s a big week for students, teachers and the school community!
The HSC is just one important event in the life of our students. It is definitely not a ‘defining’ moment. Our students – your children – are infinitely more valuable than the results of their exams. It is important, however, for our Year 12 students to strive for excellence and seek to honour God with their efforts. However, they are not to be defined, as individuals, by the outcome.
We live in a world that places great emphasis on the results students attain through study, or the job they have. In our culture, when we meet someone for the first time, we might ask, “So, what do you do?” Our initial assessment of the person is often shaped by their answer. It can prompt preconceived ideas about ‘who’ the person is. This can also lead to awkwardness when someone is uncomfortable revealing what they do for work because of the way they might be judged. Our culture values people based on their achievements or performance. By contrast, Jesus had a very different way of seeing people and inviting them to follow Him. He didn’t seek out those most qualified, or those with the keenest intellect. A wide range of people found their purpose with Jesus, from those gifted in finance (tax collectors) to local tradies (fishermen).
So why does our culture place such importance on what people do for work? Why is a person’s identity so often tied to their job?
With a focus on these final exams, we should remember that this is the beginning of life beyond Kuyper for our senior students. They are now stepping into the life that God is calling them to, beyond their ‘childhood’ at school. There will be significant challenges ahead; decisions that these young adults will face in deciding where they find their identity. Will they be defined by the secular culture that is relentlessly trying to shape them, or will they know that their true identity is found in Christ?
Noah D, Marisa, Noah G, Caitlin, Jackson, Angelina, and Jade are all wonderfully gifted in different and unique ways. Each of them has a responsibility to use their strengths and weaknesses – the entirety of who they are – to serve and honour God in all aspects of their lives. This includes further study and careers.
Leonard Sweet, in his foreword to The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers, says “Christianity asks you to be who you are and who you aren’t at the same time.” While this sounds paradoxical, he means that God knows our true identity even while we are distracted through our own sinfulness and the culture of the world around us. We need to be honest about who we are, and hopeful about who we are becoming.
I am praying that our Year 12 students have a clear understanding of who they are when they leave Kuyper. I want them to know this truth: God knows who they are. They are created in His image. This will be a journey for all of them. As Sayer puts it, “We must seek to understand how we have moved away from basing our identities in our God-given image and toward simply adopting identities from the culture around us.”
Year 12, don’t let the world tell you who you are. Leave behind the false identities offered by our culture, and receive the white stone, the new name, from Jesus Himself.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2:10