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I want to make more friends and get people to hang out with me.

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I want to make more friends and get people to hang out with me. But hereís the problem: I have a bad reputation because of the things I said and did my sophomore year. Even though Iíve changed (or at least Iíve tried to change), other people (not even the girls) donít see whatís changed in me. They still think of me as the same person that I was then. I want this to stop because itís messing with my confidence, and I want people to hang out with me and think good things about me. What should I do?óAnonymous


Asa Answers:

Dear Anonymous,

The story that begins in Acts 8 describes a man in a similar position. The story of Saul begins with the death of the first martyr, Stephen. Verse 3 talks about how Saul went into the houses of Christians, dragged them out, and put them in prison. He was good at his job. In a short time he had a reputation for being a dangerous man. But then something happened—Saul had an experience with Christ.

Having a deep experience with Jesus is life-changing. You mentioned that you have changed, or have at least tried to change, but has Christ made a significant impact on your life? Trying to change really isn’t good enough when it comes to your reputation. If you are still participating in your old life in any way—even a little bit—people will point it out and say you haven’t changed. If Saul had imprisoned one Christian after his encounter with Christ, how would anyone have known he had truly changed?

I would encourage you to study and have devotions every day if you aren’t already. If you are, then double your efforts to have a deeper experience with Jesus. You will know when you have it, because the bad things that you wanted to change will seem so awful that there will be no way you will want to return to them. Looking at your bad habits after being with Christ will make you feel the way Jesus does about them. You will definitely be changed.

In Acts 9 Saul tries to join the band of Christians, the same ones he was trying to imprison. And as you can guess, everyone was pretty skeptical. They all thought it was a trick, that Saul was only pretending in order to trap them. You may be in the same situation if you are trying to join the same people you offended. This takes patience. If God is really working in your life, you will need to give people time to see this. Saul didn’t have his Damascus road experience and then walk into Sabbath school the next day and experience a warm welcome. He spent three days blind and alone before God sent Ananias to him, and even Ananias was skeptical, telling God all the bad things Saul had done. The consequences of your actions haven’t gone away. It will take as much time to build your good reputation as it did to build your bad one, maybe more. Be patient. If God is in your life, He will show everyone you have changed, and in time they will come around and see the new you.

You mentioned that your situation is messing with your confidence. Is your confidence in yourself or in Jesus? If your confidence is in yourself, the things people do and say to you will affect your confidence. But if your hope and confidence is in Jesus, there is not a person or thing in the world that should shake your faith. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Having a good name means being Christlike; it does not mean people will always like you. Christ was murdered with His “good name.” It also does not mean you will have friends; look at Jeremiah the prophet. And it does not mean you will be rich. What it does mean is that you will feel the love and affection of God in your life. He will fill the needs you have and give you your desires as you seek Him. Saul, the biggest enemy of Christ’s church, became Paul, the best-known missionary. God can do the same with you if you will patiently seek after Him and let Him change you.  



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