Have you ever looked around and wondered what started the latest fad or trend? I know I’m getting older and maybe a little grumpy but there are some trends that I wish would just go away. I got to tell you if I see one more kid flip a water bottle and think it’s cool when it lands properly I’m going to lose it! I could do without that little fad. I have to say the skinny jean thing…I’m not built for that and I fully recognize that but I’m ready for that one to go away. Think about the culture around us…there was a time when it wasn’t cool to wear glasses, so we wanted them as invisible on our faces as possible, now big thick glass frames are the thing…I have them too! Isn’t it interesting how fashion, trends, music changes and everyone seems to kind of run to the latest thing. Ha, do you remember when shorts were very short even on the men? How about things like jam shorts if your my age you had a pair and we all felt so cool in them…but sometimes I have these moments where I wonder…who got to decide what was cool? I’m around the schools a lot today with four kids and I always find it interesting…all these beautiful, unique children inside the school feeling so much pressure to fit in. Created different by God, and all working to look and act like everyone else and let’s face it, it isn’t really different for us adults out there in the real world. How many of us are celebrated for being who we are? Most of the time we are being pulled towards uniformity and being like everyone else and this is really what Kim and I are going to get into with you guys today.
At the very core of our spiritual journey is a huge challenge. That challenge is to get rid of this “old false” self so that we can bold and free in our “true self.” Check this out!
Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. NIV
Paul says that we must put off our old self so that we can stand in our new self. This is what it means to stand in who you were designed and created to be by God! Now think about what I just said. This means that I have been designed by God to live and stand in who He wired me to be deep down inside me. Paul also says there is another way we live, that is in our old self which means that we may or may not stand in our truly God given identity. I know we have heard these types of terms before in church, but think for a moment, are you truly standing in your God given identity? So many of us struggle to stand in our true self, because we live in a world pushing in harder and harder on us to live like someone else…to never let our true self come out! So we live the way we think we should. We fit in. Now this isn’t a conscious effort to not live out our God given identity and I’m not saying if you wear skinny jeans and big framed glasses that you are evil or sinful…now if you flip a bottle you might be, cause that drives me nuts but seriously, this is everyone’s challenge to stand up in their true self. I want to read right from the book here…
“The vast majority of us go to our graves without knowing who we are. We unconsciously live someone else’s life, or at least someone else’s expectations for us. This does violence to ourselves, our relationship with God, and ultimately others.” Page 66 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
That is a powerful statement, and I really want you to see this…its not on purpose. There is just this pull that people and the world have on us, through expectations, peer pressure and just life in general to conform and fit in. Over the past few months I have talked to you a lot about the ways of the world and how God’s ways are just so opposite of the world’s ways. It’s so important that we understand this or we will never stand in who God created us to be. Check out this quote…
“At the end of your life, God will not ask you why were you not Moses? He will ask, Why were you not you!? Why did you try to live out someone else’s life that was not your own!” Rabbi Susya
You have a true self that has been wired into you and it is absolutely amazing to me how hard it is to simply stand as the person that God created you to be in the world we live in today. The reality is the world will push against this in every way and that push comes through people and Kim and I want you to see just how strategic and intentional this is today. Today Kim is going to share with you from a very famous story where a young man named David saves Israel by standing up to a giant. Everyone has heard of David and Goliath but I really want you to see that David’s success against this giant was because he was able to stand in who he was…regardless of what everyone around him was telling Him!
1 Samuel 17:20 Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. 25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel.” NIV
So David is just an errand boy for his father at this point. Not even old enough or important enough to be in the battle and he is now here at the battle front greeting his brothers when he gets to see Goliath for the first time. He is talking trash and humiliating the Israelite army and all of the men are running in fear of this gigantic bully of a man and David can’t believe it.
1 Samuel 17:26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” 28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” NIV
So David has something stirred up in him that isn’t going away…and there is almost a peace in him saying I will go and fight him…what an amazing moment but it’s what happens next that I really want you to see! David faces some challenges before he ever has to stand before the giant! Everyone seems to push in on him and tell him how he should go about this! Everyone seems to have a message for David. His father sends him a clear message at the beginning of the story doesn’t he? You are just a boy, run some errands for me. His brother sends him a message too! Shut up David! You are supposed to be with the sheep! Even his King sends him a very clear message! Check out the message he gets from his King!
1 Samuel 17:33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” …38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.
Can’t you just picture this little boy wearing this grown man’s armor? How funny it would look? How hard it would be for him to move around in it? In so many ways so many of us are walking around this world in someone else’s armor. David wasn’t created to be Saul, he was created to be David and in spite of all these messages David stands as who he is, and goes into battle as who God created him to be!
40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. NIV
David stands in his true self and defeats a giant and saves a nation! He didn’t fold to the pressures of the world around him. He didn’t shrink into the person everyone was telling him he was he stood tall as who God created him to be and so can you! So many of us are walking around wearing someone else’s armor…listening to the messages of the world when we do have a true self that we can stand in and we need to be praying that we can know who we that true self is and then stand in that each and every day of our lives! That is so huge especially as we walk through life full of people sending us messages just like everyone around David did. They want him and all of us to be something we are not…but look what can happen when we stand in who we are! You know what, no one is immune from these challenges of a world trying hard to push us away from who we were created to be, even Jesus dealt with this same pressure and the beauty of it is we get to learn from the life of Jesus who modeled for us how to be who God created us to be perfectly.
There is one moment in Jesus’ life that really has impacted me a lot lately. I seem to be back in this story a lot. I think the reason it is so inspiring to me is because it hits such a huge challenge for me in my own life. I’m just going to tell you that I want people to like me. It feels good when people like you doesn’t it? Well here’s what is funny when you stand in who you are, and who God created you to be, not everyone will. You will disappoint people and that can be a challenge for me. Check this story out…
Mark 1:32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” NIV
So to give you some back drop to where we are, Jesus’ ministry is taking off. He is healing the sick, and he is casting out demons. There is momentum, and he is helping everyone. He is doing a lot of good here. This is an exciting time! People are clamoring for me him, and they all need him…and what does Jesus do? He goes off early in the morning and spends time alone with God. He is tending to his heart condition. This is important, and something we all must do, but it’s what happens next that really is a challenge for me. Let’s look at those last two verses again…
36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
So the disciples are pumped! There is so much good happening here and there is more and more people who need Jesus do heal them. The people are looking for him…and what does he do? He leaves and goes on to the next town! Wait, shouldn’t he stay? Shouldn’t he do what everyone wants him to do here? Shouldn’t he cater to these hurting people…after all he is gaining more and more momentum here. What does it mean that he says it’s time to move on? Does this mean that Jesus doesn’t care about people? Does it mean he doesn’t want to heal them? This is a big moment here and maybe the most challenging question for me and maybe for you is this. Would you be willing to leave this village and go to the next one? Or would you stay…I will tell you this if it was me, even if I knew I was to leave and actually mustered the courage to do so, I would have felt bad, and felt pressure, and felt insecure about all the people that I just disappointed in this town! Can you feel the intensity of this moment? Can you feel the emotions of those in deep need of him? How about the confusion and disappointment of Peter here. What do you mean move on to the next town? This is an amazing moment for us to look at in the life of Jesus and I don’t know if I could have done it. So how does he leave and move on to the next town without even flinching? Well there are a 3 clear things that Jesus does that allow him to live free from the expectations of people…free from the pull of the world to not disappoint…to conform.
- Jesus knows who He is in God’s eyes.
- Jesus knows His purpose.
- Jesus spends time with God keeping him focused.
- Jesus know who He is to God. Jesus is standing firmly on the foundation of who He is to God. He knows unflinchingly that He is loved by God. Why? God told him and He believes. Remember that moment at his baptism by cousin John where God speaks?
Matthew 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” NIV
By standing in this love he is bold and free to live out the life God has empowered Him to live!
- Jesus knows His Purpose. You know I can just picture Peter just so confused and worried by Jesus’ response in our story there in Mark. What do you mean we are leaving people need you right here in Capernum…but Jesus says something so important. Look at this exchange again…
Mark 1:36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Did you catch it? We need to go elsewhere so I can preach there also…Peter “That is why I have come.” Jesus is very aware of his purpose. There is one more reason why I think Jesus can live out his true self…and while it’s last it certainly isn’t least.
- Jesus spends time with God. There is a rhythm to Jesus life that he is very intentionally modelling for you and I. He lives a very God focused and intentional life. So yes, he serves and gives and gives of himself. But he also spends time with God. All through scripture we see it. He works hard then he withdraws to quiet places to pray and spend time with God…you saw it in this story as well.
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. NIV
This is where the strength and focus to stay on mission comes from, his time and relationship with God. He is very clearly showing us how to live. It’s this time with God that continues to guide his way through a chaotic life filled with so much to do for everyone around Him. Think about the confrontations, the emotions, the sickness he is walking in each day. His time with God rejuvenates Him and guides him as it will you too! Through all of the chaos of life around Jesus he was able to stay true to who God created Him to be. This is the challenge of life for you all of us! To stand in who God created us to be in a world trying it’s best to pull us away from that person and to make us like everyone else! I find it so inspiring that we have a God who lived this out on this Earth so we could see how it’s done! How awesome is that? You and I get to follow the path that Jesus laid for us in his time on this Earth! Pretty cool stuff!
That story of the revival that Jesus started in Capernum really impacts me and I think it should touch your heart too. Think about the emotions of this. Think about the pressure to stay and continue to heal. Think of the mother bringing her dying child? Think of the man oppressed by demons who needs freedom. Think of the disciples who had to be thinking “Finally, we are making it happen!” Through all of the expectations and human emotion Jesus is able to stay the course. He doesn’t flinch. He moves on…because He knows who He is. He knows why He has come and He is spending the necessary quiet time with God to stay the course.
You know what’s amazing to me? By standing up as his true self Jesus disappointed a lot of people. All thought scripture we see it…he disappointed his family. He disappointed the people he grew up with in Nazereth. He disappointed his closest friends and disciples…many of them quit on him and walk away when they realize he doesn’t meet the expectations of what they thought the Messiah would be! He disappointed crowds of people who wanted a Messiah who would fix their Earthly problems…and free them from Roman oppression, they wanted miracles, and amazing sermons…and they would walk away from Him. He really disappointed the religious leaders of his time. They found him to be a pest, a disruption, and these men who were actually paid to identify Jesus when He arrived had such different expectations of who He was supposed to be that they can’t see Him for who He is and eventually kill him!
Do you see the challenge of standing in who you were created to be? David felt it. Jesus felt it. And I know for a fact that you are feeling it too. Everything in this world is telling you to be something or someone else. While your loving Father in Heaven continues to whisper loving encouraging words for you to stand in who God created you to be.
This may be the biggest challenge in all of your spiritual journey, to stand in your true self. The only way this happens is by living the same way Jesus lived and following the model for life that He showed us!
So as we close down the teaching today I just want you to sit in one question. I don’t want this to just glance off of you today, I want you to think this through.
Here’s the question and I would like you to take a minute to think this through. So please take one minute right now to sit in this question, just in the quiet of the auditorium today…
What might be one specific way that you give in to the expectations of others rather than being faithful to what Jesus has for you?
If you see some compromise in your life where you are giving into the expectations of this world rather than being faithful to all that Jesus has for you…welcome to the club. We all have our challenges here. If this is you I’d like you to pray this prayer with me today…
Jesus, I am so grateful that you understand what it is like to feel pressure from the expectations of others. It can feel crushing at times. Lord, help me to love others well while at the same time remaining faithful to you. In Jesus name, amen.