Anyone who makes it out of middle school or high school, alive, should receive a medal. One of my favorite quotes, about growing up, comes from none other than Kevin Arnold:
“After all, if growing up is war, then the friends who grew up with you deserve a special respect. The ones who stuck by you shoulder to shoulder, in a time when nothing was certain, all life lay ahead, and every road led home.”
Between trying to figure out who you are, the people you can trust, and dreaming about the future, religion can seem another burden to figure out. If every book of the Bible were taken out of the Bible and only one could remain, I think 1 John has the most to say to students. It’s only five chapters but says the most about us and Jesus.
7 Things Every Student Should Know:
1. Jesus is the beginning of everything | 1 John 1:1
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”
Jesus was always at the beginning of everything. Jesus created this very existence we call life (Genesis 1:1). Not only was Jesus at the beginning of reality, He left a very close relationship with His Dad to teach us that the Father was safe and we could have that same kind of relationship. Students can be open and honest before the Lord.
2. Jesus is our cleansing | 1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I was a student pastor for 8 years. It was one of the greatest and most heartbreaking experiences of my life. Most of the tears shed were from long walks down roads students traveled. They thought they were walking towards freedom but found guilt, shame, and pain. There have been countless stories and statements of: “I just feel so dirty” or “I feel like my parents are going to hate me for the rest of my life.” Because Jesus goes to the cross, His blood “washes us” from guilt, fear, and pain. You may still feel those emotions, but those are things not held against you by Jesus. The beauty of Christian community and counseling is that they can help you work through those difficult emotions. Sometimes we think because we’ve been bullied or rejected by people at school, God must feel the same about us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
3. Jesus is our advocate | 1 John 2:1
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
I really didn’t have much of a prayer life in high school or college. Recently, I have understood the power of prayer. When we pray, Jesus is our advocate. In other words, The requests we make to God, to forgive us, is actually causing heaven to have a conversation.
Your prayer life causes heaven to have a conversation.
When you ask for forgiveness of sin, Jesus tells the Father you belong to Him. Why is this important? Jesus is not appealing to the love of God, but to the wrath of God. We all know none of us have clean hands. Because Jesus goes to the cross, you have been forgiven. Jesus has claimed you by his blood. The Father listens and forgives.
4. Jesus is our righteousness | 1 John 2:29
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
What turns off a lot of students to Christianity is morality. John tells us that Jesus is our righteousness. Even our best day and our best offering of your lives, would not be acceptable to God. On the cross, Jesus takes our “goodness” or best attempts at being good and gives us His righteousness. This gives us room to breathe and grow in our relationship with Jesus. Don’t worry about being a good Christian. Focus on being His.
5. Jesus crushed the Devil | 1 John 3:8
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
There are a lot of students who say they are spiritual, but not religious. The Devil is both. Scripture warns us over and over (1 John 4:1) that there are many spirits we can listen too – fear, anger, anxiety, arrogance, etc. You have to live in is this – The devil has no power over the Christian. Can he influence you? If you allow it. Not only are you forgiven, but you are protected by Jesus. Don’t put yourself in situations you’ll regret. Consider the art and music you are listening too. What is the art trying to say? Do you know why it’s saying that? What’s your opinion on music, art, film, culture? Have one. We would ask, “Who are you following?” John would ask, “What spirit are you listening too?”
6. Jesus is the full expression of God’s love | 1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…
Everyone has an opinion on love. High school is a four year debate on the matter. John tells us that God’s love is complete and it drives out fear. That’s not the normal definition of love. God’s love is complete. God’s love is sending love with an end goal in mind. What’s that end goal? The cross of Christ. The beauty of love is that is not progressive. It is final. No one will ever be more loved than when they become Christian and go deeper into allowing that event (crucifixion) to define their lives. John promises us that if we trust that love, our fears, anxiety, anger, self-hate, arrogance, etc will be driven out. The phrase “driven out” is the same phrase used when Jesus drives out demons! That’s a powerful work!
7. Jesus is our confidence | 1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
It’s ok to be proud of yourself. It’s ok to do well in school, sports, art, dance, etc. I promise you one thing: If you allow Jesus to mature you and develop you, You will gain a confidence that can’t be replicated with a college scholarship, sports, grades, hot boyfriend or girlfriend, or even making your parents proud.
If you’re a teenager reading this, I’m praying for you. You are some of the bravest people and some of my biggest heroes. There are some things in life you have to figure out on your own. I can tell you how incredible it is if you live in these 7 truths, but that’s a journey you’ll need to begin, when you’re ready.