They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. But I think God gives you a lifetime to make a lasting one.
The type of impression we make depends on who is at the center of our universe. There are several options people have tried:
- Self – this is the most common. Impressions are made by making yourself look good. These impressions don’t last forever.
- Others – this is seen a lot with families of addicts. Family members often become co-dependent and learn to operate in a dysfunctional atmosphere. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc the family tends to center around the person with the problem. Attention and resources are disproportionately given to that person. These impressions don’t last forever.
- God – this is handing over the steering wheel to someone who is more powerful and more wise than we are. It is submitting our lives to His will instead of our own. This is the only way to open up our lives and make a lasting impression in the lives of others.
I think you can see this contrasted vividly in Mark 14:1-11
Read this passage and notice where people’s focus was.
- Self focused – the story is bookended (as Mark often likes to do) by those who are focused on themselves. 14:1-2 tells about the chief priests and teachers of the law looking for a way to arrest and kill Jesus. 14:10-11 tells about Judas’ deal with the chief priests and their promise of payment for his services. Judas and the chief priests were clearly focused on self and not on God.
- Others focused – “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money be given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly” (14:4-5).
- God focused – Two people in the story are focused on Jesus/God. Jesus commends her for her focus on himself and his impending death/burial. This woman was clearly focused on Jesus/God. Jesus is also focused on God as His death will reflect the will of God.
The only ones who made lasting impressions were the two who were focused on Jesus/God (14:9) – “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
How often do we chase our own desires or even serve the poor to make ourselves look good. The only way to make a lasting impression on earth is to fully devote our lives to seeking Jesus (which often does mean serving the poor – Mark 9:41). It means being salt and light. It means having an answer ready for those who ask.
We all want to make a lasting impression but many times the things we chase don’t reflect that desire. The biggest blinder Satan has to keep our focus from God is self. He can even use others to distract us if we are not careful. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And let us remember that God has blessed us with a lifetime to make a lasting impression, one that is focused on Him.