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John Davis asked the Class of 2012 to consider the most important lesson they have learned at Maranatha, then speculated as to their answers.
Nursing students, Davis guessed, might say performing an emergency tracheotomy; for teacher education majors, classroom management; for business majors, investment strategies; for biblical studies majors, proper theology.
Maranatha’s Director of Development and Alumni Services, soon to become its Dean of Students, then offered another suggestion.
“Love God,” Davis said during the sermon portion of Thursday night’s Baccalaureate Service. “That is the most important lesson you could have learned here. You are part of a lifelong endeavor to know God and fill your mind with the knowledge of God.”
Davis said he had been considering the subject of his sermon since February before addressing 157 college seniors and 19 from Maranatha Baptist Seminary who will be awarded diplomas during Friday’s Commencement. The message was drawn from Matthew 22:37, when Jesus instructed the Pharisees that the greatest commandment was, “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Love from an earthly perspective cannot match the degree of love man should display for God, Davis said. The 1973 Maranatha graduate mentioned his love for wife Gayle and his love for the College as sincere, but not comparable.
“I have loved Maranatha from the very first time I sent foot on campus,” Davis said. “I was in awe of the spiritual giants who crossed my path.”
Graduates were encouraged to stay focused on God during difficult times and to submit their thought lives to Him. Davis compared moments when he and Gayle would confound their children by giving identical separate responses to debatable requests, even when the parents had not discussed the matter.
“Make God’s thoughts your thoughts,” Davis said.
Davis’ message was preceded by vocal music from the Chamber Singers and Dr. Dean Kurtz and a flute offertory by graduating senior Leasha Folk. Dr. Larry Oats read John 15:1-16. Director of Teacher Education Field Experience David Handyside offered the invocation, Board of Trustees member Robert Loggans the benediction. Parents, grandparents, and family members of graduates were asked to stand and be recognized, as were Board of Trustees members and pastors.
The Commencement service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.