…and embrace instead the one that has changed the world.
Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio addressed The King’s Academy’s senior class at its graduation ceremony, encouraging the 142 members of the Class of 2018 to rebel against our current culture.
Rubio paraphrased the typical commencement address, most of which are full of shallow, self-serving platitudes, reflective of today’s extremely secular, cruel culture.
Sen. Rubio spoke at length about Jesus, the fruits of the spirit, and the repercussions of living a life of service rather than self.
Partial transcript beneath:
“…My strongest advice to you is to rebel against the prevalent trends in our culture today. You have grown up in the world that my generation helped to make and this month all across the country at convention halls and auditoriums and college arenas, there will be these very prominent, successful “speakers” will be sharing with graduates free advice on the rest of your life.”
…If on the other hand, someone stands for something that most people aren’t for, that must be inherently wrong and maybe even evil. In fact, people with these views should be silenced, or at a minimum, they should keep their opinions to themselves.
…You’ll learn through these both speeches and ultimately through living life these days that the best way to deal with people who stand for something most people disagree with is to embarrass them, to call them names, dunk on them online or burn them on social media. And, by the way, go ahead and use profanity and vulgar language; they deserve it. And if what they stand for is also opposed by celebrities, the media, and the people with a lot of followers, then no one’s going to criticize you for using profanity, they’ll probably celebrate you as brilliant, insightful.
…And no matter what, never, ever admit to weakness. In fact, you should do unto others as they do unto you, maybe even worse. If they hit you, hit them back ten times harder. These are today’s rules of life. These are the keys in the minds of many people to success, at least according to the culture and the society, which you are about to inherit.
But I wonder, what if your generation decided to rebel against these rules?
What if instead, you recognized that you are a flawed people, all of us are? That we are prone to make mistakes and bad decisions is actually our nature. And that you can’t trust your feelings or sometimes your own intelligence to make the right decisions. And so you recognize that we need not just laws, by the way, but values that help guide us on what is right and what is wrong.
What if you accepted that there are things that are always right and that there are truly things that are always wrong? What if, once again, you were the generation who started seeing weakness as strength, and human strength as weakness? What if changing the world is about what you can do for others, instead of what you can gain for yourself?
What if you were the generation that decided that rejection and persecution for doing what is right is a blessing, a blessing to be embraced instead of a curse to be avoided? And what about if you were the generation that instead of attacking those who attack you or us, you return their anger with kindness and you returned hatred with love?
Well, this would be countercultural. This would be a counter-cultural rebellion which would shock a lot of people. The thing is, this countercultural rebellion isn’t new. It was actually modeled and taught by someone over 2,000 years ago on a culture whose values were not unlike many of the values that have found mainstream acceptance today.
Whether you believe it or not, I believe Jesus of Nazareth was the most influential person who ever lived.
He had no money, he had no political power, had no army, didn’t even have an Instagram account. He was executed, naked, by the government. And while being executed, people walked by him, they mocked him, they spit on him and they called him names. He had a lot of people following him until things got bad, and then even the people closest to him went into hiding when he was arrested. In fact, one of them, who he had actually entrusted with key leadership, denied even knowing him, not once, not twice, but three times.
And yet, he led a countercultural revolution that ended up overthrowing the most powerful empire in the world just a few decades later.
Over 2,000 years after the death and this countercultural revolution, one lead by a poor, powerless, 33-year-old, he is still making a bigger impact than any celebrity, any political leader, any government, or any organization on earth now or any time in its history.
And my advice to you is to rebel against our modern culture and embrace instead the one that has changed the world.
What I will not claim to you is that this will be easy. The values that he taught and modeled are as unpopular today as they were in his time. Frankly, it is something I struggle with and will admit to not always getting right. After all, I’m in a line of work where I need at least half the people to like me. And I’m in this line of work at a time when so many people, sadly even many who confess to being followers of Jesus, reject many of the things he taught.
I cannot promise that embracing these values will make you famous or rich or popular, in fact, I can almost assure you they will cause some to mock and ridicule you, and maybe even some persecute you. But what I can tell you without reservation is that the more someone lives like Jesus, the more they exhibit true love. A love that isn’t a noun, but a love that is a verb. A love that isn’t what you feel, but rather expressed in how you live and what you do.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the more joy, and peace they seem to have, not a joy and a peace that depends on what happens, but rather a joy and a peace that comes no matter what happens.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the more patience they seem to have. Patience as you wait for blessings and patience as you endure your trials.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the more kindness, and goodness they seem to exhibit. Kindness towards those who do not return it and a goodness that is lived, not just spoken.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the more faithful they seem to be. A faith that actually gets stronger in the face of adversity. A faith that allows them to persevere when others doubt.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the gentler they are. Gentle in the face of aggression. Able to unite where others divide and mend what others break.
The more someone lives like Jesus, the more self-control they seem to have, truly free from the chains of modern life that bind so many.
The alternative is to live life the way things are now, to conform to the culture of today and while it may be easy to talk about here, the world is about to test you. Because it is a culture that celebrates anything that feels good and will make you a slave of the pursuit of it. It’s a culture in which we sacrifice our health, our families, and our values in the worship of money and approval and fame. A culture where we seek a magic solution to our problems, from the latest life coach or self-help book or even a psychic. A culture where we spend our time in search of something to be outraged by and someone to fight with over it. It’s a culture where we separate ourselves from our neighbors, from our life-long friends, and even from family because of who they voted for or what they believe in. A culture where we can’t help but cheer on or heckle back at public fits of anger and insult whether they’re broadcast live on cable news or captured on a cell phone video.
…This is the broader culture you inherit, but it does not have to be the culture you live in and it does not have to be the culture you leave behind.
So I ask you once again, rebel. Refuse to conform to this. It will most definitely change the course of your life. And if by some chance it catches on and others copy you, then who knows, it may even end up changing and saving our country, and saving and changing the world.”
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