on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) and Leavell College, exhorted the schools’ May 2024 graduates to remember what has “real, significant value,” in the Kingdom of God.  

“Graduates we’re obviously very proud of you, very excited for this day,” Dew said during NOBTS’ graduation ceremony on Friday, May 10. “It’s a big accomplishment in anybody’s life.” 

NOBTS conferred 135 degrees, while Leavell College graduates received 69 undergraduate degrees and certificates. 

“I know you’ve heard me preach a bunch,” Dew said. “I know you’ve heard us preach and teach a bunch. I know you’ve heard many others as well, but I want to press on you one more time about those things that are actually important. I want to press on you about the things that are in the Kingdom of real, significant value.” 

Dew walked the graduates through Luke’s account of the Beatitudes, recorded in Luke 6:20-26. The passage details four ‘blessed are you statements’, but also includes four corresponding ‘woes’ for each of the blessed statements.  

“Admittedly not the kind of passage one would pick for a graduation ceremony,” Dew said. “But as you go now into this next phase of ministry ... it’s critical, it’s vital that we understand who we are, what we’re supposed to be about and most of all what’s actually worth something. 

“When our Lord teaches, when our Lord speaks to us as people, He’s often in the business of flipping things completely upside down. Taking that which the world esteems, celebrates and applauds and saying to us that’s it’s either worthless or it’s destructive actually. 

“By contrast, in the Gospels repeatedly Jesus will show us that the things that our world despises, scorns, wants to avoid or will reject are often the things that God Almighty wants in you. When we read the Gospels it is as though Christ is saying there is this upside-down world and it’s the Kingdom. If that’s true brothers and sisters, then it means that you and I have to be discipled to retrain our minds in almost everything.” 

Dew gave listeners four statements or takeaways from the four ‘blesseds’ and ‘woes’ in the passage.  

“Let me make four statements to you that admittedly before I say one of them, I must clarify and give you a heads up; every one of these sounds harsh.” Dew said. “Every one of these sounds controversial, but every one of these are coming straight from our Lord’s mouth.” 

He explained Jesus Christ shows through this passage that: 

  1. Poverty is better than wealth  
  2. Hunger is better than fullness 
  3. Sorrow is better than laughter 
  4. To be hated for the sake of Christ is better than being praised  

Norris Grubbs, provost for NOBTS and Leavell College, told graduates it is now their responsibility to personally put into practice what they have learned about ministry.  

“Graduates today marks a significant day in your ministry,” Grubbs said. “You have persevered in your studies and today is rightly a day of celebration.  

“As you know, the diploma you’ll be receiving today has not come easily or cheaply. You’ve paid a price and studied diligently to achieve this recognition. And our faculty have worked hard to equip you with the tools that you need to be an effective minister for the Lord. It’s up to you to use those and put them into practice. As you’ve learned here, knowledge is not enough. You must always cultivate a growing relationship with the Lord so that you can be faithful to the end.”  

Dew closed the ceremony by exhorting the graduates to live out their calling.  

“Graduates, we’re so incredibly proud of you, let’s go be the people that Christ has called us to be,” Dew said.  

The full graduation ceremony NOBTS can be found here.