Jesus, the Savior and Conqueror of ALL Things (Even the High School Cafeteria)
This summer, the student authors of the Rooted Student Series give us a taste of the themes we explore in our upcoming book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. As students either currently in high school, college, or just recently graduated, our writers offer us a fresh and unique perspective of the Jesus they got to know in high school or wish they had known when they were younger. Their stories and their wisdom will help youth leaders and parents guide their students through high school and point them to Jesus. -Rooted Student Series Editor Lauren Center
“Pressure pushing down on me / Pressing down on you, no man ask for / Under pressure that burns a building down…”
The lyrics to “Under Pressure” by Queen portray exactly how I felt in high school. I wish I could say that there was a specific, singular area in my life that I felt pressure as a high schooler, but the truth is I felt massive pressure in all areas of my life.
Academic pressure and the belief that my future was up to me weighed on me and pushed me to study hard constantly, maintain a high GPA, and get into a great college. Social pressure encompassed me and forced me to believe that I had to have name brand clothes, exciting weekend plans, and be added to the GroupMe with the cutest and cleverest title, that I had to have “perfect” friends to feel like I was truly accepted, valued, and worthy. Pressure to be the “perfect” Christian girl took hold of me as I believed I needed to be this perfect Christian in order for people to see Jesus through me and know the gospel.
I carried the pressure and weight of the world on my shoulders and I put the burdens of my future, my social status, and my value as a Christian on myself. But I never felt smart enough, pretty enough, interesting or exciting enough, like a good enough friend, or like a good enough Christian.
Instead of all of the worldly pressures motivating and enabling me to arrange a perfect and successful life for myself and the people around me, these pressures led to exhaustion, anxiety, and loneliness.
All of my attempts to conquer life and be a savior for myself and others failed miserably. No matter how hard I worked, I could not overcome all the pressures and measure up to the standard of perfection I set for myself. The harder I hustled, worked, and gave out of my own heart and mind, the more I realized my neediness, brokenness, and human inadequacy.
So God allowed me to go through my high school and teenage years struggling and striving to be the savior of my own life and the lives of others, so that I could see first-hand that I am a horrible savior, in desperate need of a true savior.
Until I realized that I was trying to be my own savior and conquer the pressures of high school and life by myself, I did not realize I was seeing Jesus incorrectly. I knew Jesus as my God and Father, but beyond my high school years I began to see and know Jesus as the savior of every detail of my life and the conqueror of all my battles in this broken world.
John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “Take heart” means to gain courage or confidence. Jesus is giving us His confidence and courage in His finished work so that our hearts may be at peace in Him, no matter what troubles and pressures we face on earth.
How comforting to hear Jesus say directly to us that when we are abiding in Him and trusting in Him, we can have peace because He has already overcome the world. It is finished– Jesus already won the victory for us by dying on the cross to defeat sin and death completely. For if we believe in Jesus, then we are saved, secure, and loved forever.
Although the pressures of high school and this world can make us feel like we have to be our own hero, Jesus gives us a new way to live and tells us that the only way for us to be saved is by His grace, which has nothing to do with our achievements. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—.”
We have absolutely nothing to prove and nothing to earn because our salvation is a gift from God and has nothing to do with us and our performance. God loves us perfectly and unconditionally just as we are. Knowing that our salvation is not up to us can release us from all worldly pressures and burdens we feel to conquer the world out of our own strength.
In high school, I wish I knew and lived out of the truth that in Jesus, and by His grace and love alone, I am victorious in all aspects of my life and death. Through prayer, time with God in His word, and encouragement from Chrisitan mentors and friends, my heart was changed by God’s grace so that I could have His peace as He fought my battles.
My advice for anyone in high school who is struggling with worldly pressures would be to pray that God will help you to completely surrender your battles and burdens to Him. Personally, I began to pray more and allow Jesus to love me as I am, live in and rule my heart and its desires, and remind myself of His promises in the Bible constantly.
None of us can save ourselves and conquer this sinful and broken world, but the good news is that Jesus is the perfect conqueror. He has already saved the world, and gives us unconditional love and grace!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me to see that you alone are the true author and conqueror of my life and the world. Thank you that I do not have to strive, worry, or hurry because you sent your son to save me, you love me, and your plan to redeem me and the whole world is victorious. Please show me the things in my life that I am trying to battle and conquer on my own and not giving you complete control and victory over. Most of all, help me to know all of these things in my head AND my heart so that I may walk in faith and love for you alone. In Christ’s victorious name I pray, amen.