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2006 Commencement Address - Judah Kiley

Several years ago, Dr. Farris initiated an essay contest titled "What is Victory?" At the time, victory, for me, meant winning the scholarship, and since I knew I probably wouldn't win, I put off the formulation of my concept of victory. I did, however, make a list of what victory is not, hoping that perhaps I would come closer to an understanding of what it is.

Victory is not your S.A.T score. Victory is not a 4.0. Victory is not Harvard law school. Victory is not Patrick Henry College. Victory is not further success by the home schooling movement. Victory is not a Republican president, congress, and 9 conservative Supreme Court justices. Victory is not the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Victory is not a marriage amendment. Victory is not returning America to the state of its founding.

These are victories perhaps but not victory. Victory implies achievement, success, finality. When can we here at PHC hammer our swords into plowshares? What is our final goal which when achieved we can claim success? Is it to make Patrick Henry College a Christian Ivy League School? Is it to make America a Christian nation?

You have no assurance that if you bring America to where it fits your ideal that it will not stray back down the path of godlessness. You have no reason to believe that two-hundred years from now, Patrick Henry College will not suffer the same fate as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. If you become a president or a senator the changes you make will last a few generations. If you write an epic of grand proportions or rival Shakespeare himself you too will fall out of favor.

Perhaps victory is not the permanence of the mark you leave, but the preeminence of the life you live and the institution you lead. Hear the word of the Lord, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Which do you want more, a perfect America or the exaltation of God? You might say this is a false dichotomy? Isn't our "leading the nation and shaping the culture" one of the primary ways by which we might exalt God?

The riches, the wisdom and the power you will attain do not exalt God. God exalts Himself. He is more permanent than nations. He is more powerful than all the governments of the earth. His wisdom is greater than wisest council, and his wealth extends beyond the whole earth.

Victory is not yours to win. It has already been achieved in the person of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus Christ is not a concept. He is not a stamp of approval for your personal ambition and desire. Jesus Christ is a person. He is the face of God in whom all glory dwells. Whether you succeed or fail, He will be glorified, and whether America stands or falls, He will be exalted.

If your grades are more urgent to you than encountering the Person, if your vision of change and transformation of this nation and culture are more pressing than the exaltation of God, then no matter how well intentioned you may be, you have missed the point of our faith completely. We are stewards of His glory, and bearers of the Good News that Christ Jesus, the glorious one, has achieved final victory at the cross and has made it possible through that victory for us to participate in His glory.

There is no doubt that the things you seek to accomplish are good things. But are you seeking the glory of His person in the midst of these pursuits, or are you putting it off till later? Do you think somehow that your achievements will compensate for your lack of worship? Seek that place where you will find his glory thickest. That is your vocation. For some of you, you will know the Person of Jesus in prosperity, for others in poverty; for some in reputation, for others in obscurity; for some in power, for others in weakness. In all of these things, whichever you pursue remember this: victory is to know Him and be known by Him.

If you look at your program you will find a verse. Jeremiah 9: 23-24: "Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD."

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