May 19, 2023 | by Joel Jacobs
Pastor Candice and I recently used our old high school yearbooks for a lesson demonstration with the youth at church. It got me looking back through my senior year scanning over my classmate’s pictures. The pictures helped resurface my memories of almost all of them. I say almost because I believe we had a class size of approximately 300 students. There were some that I had little recollection of, probably due to limited interactions in or out of school. However, I do remember a lot, including what I thought about many of them at that time. There are certainly a lot of positive and fun memories, but also some negative views. In hindsight, almost all the negative ones are superficial because I realize just how little I knew about them at that time, and they were based on really stupid “teenager” type things. Even so, as an almost 40-year-old I shockingly was still allowing some of those to shape my view towards them.
I then started to realize how so much has changed since graduation. That sounds cliché, but the reality of everyone’s course in life isn’t. I began picking out some of the details I knew (or thought I knew) about them. Lives in town, married with kids, or now divorced, or now remarried, moved to/living in [this] state/city, attorneys, military, veterinarian, murdered, social workers, law enforcement, successful entrepreneurs, drug and/or alcohol problem/rehab/in recovery, CPA’s and financial advisors, teachers, outspoken atheist, outspoken Christians/active in their church, government officials, professors, prison/jail, anesthesiologists, politically outspoken/active (red and blue), died due to medical conditions, died due to drug overdose, died in an accident, and many I have no idea where they went or what their life has been like since the day we graduated. As I was going through this, I realized how inaccurate my views towards all of them probably are, even based on the most recent knowledge I have about them. Because even what I do know (or think I know) is still limited, and some last known updates are from years ago. I don’t know all the successes nor hardships they may have experienced, and I don’t know all the positive transformations that have occurred.
Now I wonder what my classmates think of me when they see my picture. What kind of mark I left behind for the vast majority that have no idea of the man I’ve been transformed into today. I’m sure it’s a big mixture of positive, negative, and neutral. I’m sure many framed superficial views about me just the same way I did them and are based on limited or outdated knowledge. Additionally, as many immature and insecure teenagers do, I made mistakes and very poor decisions that could understandably shape how someone still remembers me to this day (and that didn’t necessarily end in my teens either; my early 20’s didn’t see much improvement LOL). I’m mature enough and secure in who I am in Christ Jesus now to understand and reconcile that there will likely be people out there that will continue to view me or only remember me in a negative light. Like what I stated above in my views towards them, they don’t know the experiences I’ve had or the transformation I’ve been through.
Examining how so many different things can influence how I view other people or how I’m viewed by others brings into perspective the significance of how God views/sees us through Christ Jesus. Through faith in Jesus, God only sees us one way. RIGHTEUOSLY! And if your faith stays with Jesus, that will never change! II Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus was MADE to be sin, so that we could be MADE righteous. What an awesome exchange, and all because God loves us. That means it doesn’t matter what mistakes you make along the way because if you believe on Jesus spiritually you have been MADE into something new. I’ve grown a long way from the insecure, selfish, and stupid 18-year-old displayed in my senior picture, and I still have plenty of growing up to do. I’m sure you could agree you do too. As we grow together, always remember your faith in Jesus maintains that God sees you spiritually perfect. God looks at you and sees perfect Jesus reflecting at Him.
Now walk and grow with that confidence and others will start to see Jesus reflecting from you towards them too.
Love you all,