You may have heard the story of Whitney Kropp in the news this past week. She is a 16-year old Michigan student who has been teased and made fun of by her school mates for some time. This fall, her tormentors came up with a particularly cruel prank to play on her. They gathered their friends together and corporately voted her to the homecoming court as a colossal joke. Initially, she was elated when she learned about the vote, but was later crushed, and even considered suicide when she discovered the heartless truth. However, at the urging of thousands of supporters, she chose to ignore her enemies and in spite of their intent, she stood tall as she took her place with the others in the homecoming celebration.
Whitney’s story ends well, but for many other high school students, it doesn’t. They are bullied and teased, leaving them feeling worthless and insignificant. Some despair over their situation so much that they choose to end their lives, never realizing how temporary their current state really is. I’m not minimizing the extreme nature of some of the difficulty teens are subjected to these days. We’ve all seen those heart-breaking stories, but for most, it isn’t like that. The majority of teens face the same struggles and insecurities that have been around a long time. It would help them to endure, and even prosper, to somehow understand what we who have long since graduated know… in only a few short years, the people and things that mean so much to them as high schoolers will fade into the background of their lives, quickly becoming distant memories. For adults, it seems a waste of time, energy and emotion to give so much emphasis to things that will disappear so fast.
But … are we really so different from angst-filled teenagers?
Scripture tells us that the “world in its present form is passing away,” (1 Cor. 7:31) and to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” because “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18) Yet, Christians often live as though this world is all there is. We fail to see the transient nature of our condition, so we strive to be the best and the brightest in our area of expertise, and then crumble when we fail. We court the affections of our friends and then despair when we’re rejected. We desire the praise of our peers, and then doubt our worth when their lips are sealed.
How is it that we can profess faith in God yet act so much like short-sighted adolescents?
I think the answer is that we’ve subtly separated our belief in God from the rest of our lives. Instead of drawing our worth, and meaning from Him, we look to the people and things in our world to validate our existence, and when those things fail us, (and they will) we wonder if we have any value at all.
In order to break our dependence on the world, we have to make a connection with the Lord… one where His life becomes inseparably woven into fabric of ours. That connection requires us to move beyond just attending church, reading Scripture and praying in a crisis to embracing truth in a way that it becomes a part of who we are. When we learn to see everything from God’s perspective, to think the way He thinks, and to set our hopes on Him, He gives us purpose, meaning and eternal significance far beyond anything that this life can deliver.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.