By Jared Segerstrom

Dear Class of 2021,

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the rigors of your high school career! Without a doubt, you’re exhaling after making it through standardized testing, service hours, scholarship applications, and open house planning. Maybe you’re eagerly anticipating the future, whether that’s college, an apprenticeship, or full-time employment. Or perhaps your high school experience was less than awesome, and you’re excited to move ahead with life.

May I make one heartfelt plea? As you graduate from high school, please don’t graduate from the gospel.

If you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your sin and give you His righteousness, then God has placed you in His family. You are a Christian. The gospel has changed you from the inside out.

Few people, if any, enter their post-high school years and say, “Great. Now I’m going to leave the gospel behind me as I make plans for the future.” But so many young adults treat the gospel like they do algebra, speech, or biology. It’s a necessary subject required to graduate, but not foundational for their life and future.

Here are three ways to take the gospel with you into adulthood:

1. Find your identity in Jesus.

In your college and early adult years, it’s so tempting to find your identity in other places. Academic all- stars are tempted to find identity in their GPA or their name on a dean’s list. Self-driven entrepreneurs might find value in their client base, social media followers, or net worth. Early adulthood is a great time to find a spouse. You might even meet a special person during orientation weekend! Suddenly, your whole life is wrapped up in what someone else thinks of you.

It’s not wrong to pursue academic excellence, a fulfilling career, or a soulmate. But none of those things determine your worth. As a Christian, your identity is in Jesus. You have every spiritual blessing Jesus enjoys because you are united with Jesus. In Christ, you are completely known and completely loved by God. Take the gospel into adulthood by finding your identity in Jesus and only Jesus.

2. Don’t let sin rule over you.

As you put high school behind you, are you chomping at the bit for more freedom? Remember: with new freedom comes new temptation. Your opportunities to give into sinful desires—whether laziness or lust, anger or apathy—only increase when you leave home. Remember that you were saved from sin. Sin no longer gets to claim ownership over you. Here’s what Titus 2:11–12 says: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.”

Don’t buy into the lie that you have to give in to sin. Cling to the hope of the gospel. Jesus has set you free.

3. Get into a gospel-saturated community.

Whether you are sticking close to home or moving 1,000 miles away, you need the fellowship other Christians offer. No one is designed to live the Christian life in isolation. Involvement in a local church is a major way to continue in the gospel. Our church mission is “to make more and better disciples.” Find a local church where you can become a better disciple and where you can work to make more disciples. Don’t try to live the Christian life apart from God’s people.

Class of 2021, I am so happy for you. Graduating from high school is the culmination of 10+ years of hard work and perseverance. You’re undoubtedly looking forward to new beginnings, new freedom, and new opportunities. Just remember who you are. If you’ve trusted Jesus, then you are a blood-bought child of God. The same gospel that saved you in the past is the same gospel that will transform you in the future. Take the truths of the gospel with you.

Jared Segerstrom serves as student ministries pastor at Soteria, Des Moines, Iowa. This article was originally posted to Soteria’s blog and is reposted here by permission.