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Andy Stanley - Pay Attention to Your Narratives



Isn't it strange, I don't know if you ever think about this, but because I have to talk all the time I have to think of things people aren't thinking about, so I can make you think about it, so I'll have something to talk about. That's kind of my life basically. Isn't it strange how we talk to ourselves? Because we all do this, right? We have conversations with ourselves, it's like there's two of us in there, sometimes three. If you have four, I don't really want to meet you. But anyway. We have these conversations with ourself. And so much of the time the conversation is, "Well I really should but I don't want to, I really should, but I don't want to. I ought to, but I ought not".

Now, if you're a materialist, and I don't mean materialistic that's something different, if you're a materialist. If you just believe all there is is matter, you don't believe in God, and you're just your role, you're a materialist. Then for you, explaining this is different than the way I would explain it. Because for you there is no self. There aren't two selves and they're talking to each other, because self, having a self or an I, or a me, that's a myth. You don't really have that.

The late Christopher Hitchens said it best. And I read his books, he passed away some years ago. But he says you don't have a body, you don't have a body, you are a body. And the first time I read this, you don't have a body, you are a body, I thought, that's interesting thought. And if you're a materialist, that is if you're an Atheist or Agnostic, then this is your world view. You may not have thought it this way, but he's a super smart guy, this is your world view. You don't have a body, because there's no you.

So, when I read this I thought, I'm gonna try to live a whole day as if I am nothing but a body. There's no Andy, there's no I, there's no me, I'm just all biology. And it worked pretty well until I got home with all the other little biologies running around, then I shut down it didn't work. I just couldn't do it, okay. But, if it's just material, if you're a materialist, if you don't believe there's anything other than just biology and matter, you have a different explanation about what's going on inside of you. But, the truth is, somebody's in there talking. However you explain it.

And the other theory is well we're just imagining it. And I'm like, well who's imagining it, I am. There I am again. I can't get past that fact. So, these conversations that we have with ourselves, eventually, we get down to this really, really big question that we all wrestle with. And the question, this question is why? And here's what we do. Something happens and we think why did that happen? Then we go to work trying to figure out what happened. And why did this happen, and why did that happen? And why did this happen rather than that?

And this what I thought would happen, but this happened. You can't help it, this is so human nature. We have this extraordinary habit, this inclination to impose a reason on randomness. We impose a reason on it. Something happens that doesn't make sense, and our minds just go to work trying to make sense out of randomness. And what we is we create a narrative, we create our own narrative to basically to make sense of things. We creative a narrative to make sense of things.

Again, I don't want to get off on this again. I don't know why pure biology, I don't know why just matter, if we're just matter and biology, I don't know why matter and biology would feel compelled to make sense out of senselessness and purposelessness out of senseless and purposeless world. Because if we're just matter, if we're just biology there is no purpose. You can't have purpose if there's just biology. But there's something in you no matter what you believe. Where you find yourself, you can't even help yourself. You find yourself trying to make sense and find purpose in whatever happens.

In fact, the worse the incident and the more personal the incident, the harder you work and the harder I work to make sense out of that. Because what's undeniable regardless of your world view. What's undeniable is that we create and often abide by our self imposed narratives. Whether they are accurate or not, whether they reflect reality or not. And this can be a problem, this can be a problem. In fact, this can lead you as you have already experienced in your life, this isn't gonna be new. I'm just gonna put words around something you've already experienced. This can lead you to become your own worst enemy.

So today we are in part two of our series, if you were here last time you already know this. How Not To Be Your Own Worst Enemy. Now we've all been our own worst enemy, and in many cases we can laugh about that season, or that time in our life when we were our own worst enemy. But it's not always funny. In fact you've seen people, you've had friends or family members who kind of did it up big. Like they were their own worst enemy in their marriage, blew up a marriage, blew up a career, blew up their health, blew up their financial stability. And if you've seen this happen, and we've all seen it happen.

In fact, we've seen it happen with some famous people. And we watch it happen and you think it like watching a tragedy in slow motion. And you think, just stop, just stop, just stop. And it's like they can't stop, and they undermine their own future. And they become their own worst enemy. And here's what we think, and here's what I think, I know this is what you think. You think, I would never do that. I mean watching it happen you think, I would never let that happen to me. But, you have the potential to do whatever you've watched anybody else do.

And we said this last week, because, the reason we know you have the potential is because you have participated in all of your bad decisions. 100% of your bad decisions, you were there for all of them. In fact, you masterminded most of them. You were the mastermind behind most of them. And, as we said last time, a single bad decision, a single bad decision is always the first step toward becoming your own worst enemy. A single bad decision is always the first step toward becoming your own worst enemy. Every habit begins with a first time. Ever pattern begins with a first line. Every journey begins with a first step.

So, in this series, I'm going to give you, I'm giving you three preemptive habits, three things we can all begin to do in every day, or every week, to preempt or to keep ourselves from becoming our own worst enemy. To ensure that you don't become your own worst enemy. So last week I gave you habit number one. Habit number one was pay attention to the tension. Pay attention to the tension. Whenever you're considering an option, or a choice, or an invitation, or a date, or a business deal, or whatever it might be, if there's something on the inside of you that's kind of like, uh, pay attention.

If something dings your conscious, pay attention. If something seems a little bit not right, or a little bit off, even if everybody else is doing it, even if everybody else conducts business that way, pay attention to the tension. Ask the question, is there a tension that deserves my attention? This week we're gonna talk about preemptive habit number two, and preemptive habit number two is simply this, pay attention to your narratives. Pay attention to your narratives.

Now I just want to make sure we're all on the same page when it comes to narrative. So I need to take you back in time, most of you, some of you are there now. I want you to think back to high school. And I want you to think about your narrative, your internal narrative as it related to your parents. Remember how dumb they were? Remember how uncool they were? Remember how they just didn't get it? And then in your 30s you look back and thought, huh. They were smarter than I thought they were. In fact, you didn't even wait until you were in your 30s. You got to your 20s, suddenly they got smarter, and suddenly it didn't matter that they weren't so uncool.

Well what happened? Well you had a narrative and in high school, you lived by that narrative. And that narrative got you into trouble. Remember your high school narrative about school for many of you? It's such a waste of time, it's such a waste of time, such a waste of time. You know, so maybe you were young enough to where it was such as waste of time that you got your mobile device, your multi-hundred dollar mobile device that your loser parents bought for you. That never occurred to you did it, did it, right? And you start texting your friends on this multi-hundred dollar mobile device to your friends, school is such a waste of time, school is such a waste of time. On a device created by people who went to school.

All right, but that never occurred to you, right? Because you had this internal narrative and you believed it, and you lived it out. And we still have those, we still have those. Here are some of the things that drift through our mind, that shape our decisions. I'm just gonna go through a bunch of them real quick, to try to make sure we're all moving in the same direction today. I deserve better. I'm entitled to. I should be further along. I'm not happy. You know he should be. If she loved me. They don't care, they don't care. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how hard I try, it doesn't matter if I have an idea, I'm not gonna tell him it doesn't matter.

It won't make any difference, nah, it won't make any difference. I don't do exercise, you should exercise. But I don't do that. I know but you need to. But I don't do that. What does that even mean? It means I don't do that. You mean you can't do it? No, I don't do it. Like you can, but you don't? No, no, no, I don't do it. That doesn't make sense. I know it's my story, I'm sticking with it, right? I can't, I'm better than that. I'm better than them, they're losers, they're just losers. The whole category, they're just losers, right? I don't have to consider them. They don't deserve, they don't deserve that. If they would just try harder.

You know what they're problem is, they don't try hard enough, they don't work hard enough. That's their problem. They just don't work hard enough, they just don't try hard enough. I can't resist, no I know I just can't resist, why? I can't resist. Why do you do this? I can't resist, why? I just can't resist. Something's wrong with me. Gosh, something's wrong with me. Now that actually may be true, but anyway, something's wrong with me. I can't live without. Republicans are all. Democrats are just. Men! Women are all. Baptists, the Catholics. If my dad had only. If mom hadn't. Southerners, mm, ignorant, redneck, you know guns, ugh!

What's up with those Southerners, you know? Northerners, just go back to the north then, okay if you don't like it down here! Bunch of Northerners, right? What you laughing at? Isn't it amazing? And again, when you look at it, none of this is rational, none of this makes sense. But I'm telling you, this kind of stuff, and I could go on, and on, and on, it informs our narratives, it informs how we view and interpret the world. When it comes down to, I wonder why, I wonder why? It goes to stuff like that. Narratives create excuses. Narratives create justifications. They empower us to avoid things we should not avoid. And they empower us to embrace things we should stay away from.

Narratives, our internal narratives, it fuels our pride, it fuels our racism, it fuels our prejudice, it fuels our fear. And maybe worst of all, it blinds us to our interdependency on others. False narratives are difficult to overcome, they're very, very, very difficult to overcome. And here's why. Because our narratives are shaped by things that we have no control over. Our narratives are shaped by where we are in the world.

This is why you watch the news and you see something happen and it's some other part of the world, and you say to yourself, "Why can't they just get along? Just knock it off. Why do they act that way? It doesn't make sense, I don't act that way, Honey, do you act that way? I mean the kids act that way sometimes, but we're gonna get that out of them. Why can't they be more like Americans"? Also by the way we experience the world. Because you experience the world different then the person sitting behind you, by the way.

And in some cases the person that you see at work every day. And the person that you pass on the highway, you're in the same world, you're in the same city, but you experience the world differently. And this shapes the narrative that we think about, that we live our lives in the context of. And obviously the way that we were raised, the way we were raised influences our narrative. So success, failure, family, upbringing, the way we've been treated, the way we've been mistreated, where we live in the world, where we live in the city, what part of the city, our education. All of these things impact the things that we tell ourself, our internal narrative.

Now, a whole lot has been written on this topic, but here's what you already know. I'm gonna illustrate it at the end again. Here's what you should know. That your internal narrative, the thing that you just confirm and affirm, and tell yourself over and over, it shapes your decisions. And it has the potential, as you've already seen when you think back to some of your decisions you made in childhood, or high school, or college. It has the potential to cause you to become your own worst enemy.

Now, here's a really interesting kind of cool thing. The Apostle Paul, who as you know, if you're new to church, or new to Bible study, you should know the Apostle Paul steps into the pages of history as somebody who hates Christians, hates Christians. If you hate Christians, he's your guy. Except then he became a Jesus follower. He never saw Jesus personally before the resurrection, but he became a Jesus follower. And he met Peter and Andrew, and James and John, and James, the brother of Jesus. So he becomes a Jesus follower. And he decides that God's call on his life, is to not stay within the Jewish part of the world, but to go into the gentile parts of the world. And explain to them that God has done something for the whole world.

But part of his challenge is, he's going into, to these Pagan cultures around the Mediterranean rim, these major port cities, and he's trying to explain to them that God has done something in the world. Which means that they are to embrace a completely different value system. The value system introduced by Jesus. They are to embrace a completely different world view. Which means they have to let go of their old world view. I mean his challenge is just, it's amazing that he had any traction in the Pagan polytheistic world. And in this he writes a letter.

One of his letters is written to Christians, gentile Christians, non-Jewish Christians living in Corinth. This major, very, very secular port city, very wealthy city. And in this letter where he's trying to get them to rethink their narratives, he employs, we're gonna see, military terminology. Which is interesting, because he only does this a couple other times. And at first, if you're kind of anti-military, or anti-violence, or you're thinking, oh no where's this going? This is actually so appropriate. Because, getting rid of, or tearing down the narratives that we grow up and live with, it is not a casual endeavor, it is a difficult thing.

So Paul uses extreme language to say look, if you're gonna get this right, if you're gonna get rid of these narratives you tell yourself, and excuses you give yourself, and if you're gonna move forward in life, this is gonna take some work. You're gonna have to attack this. So he challenges his readers, in the first century, and he challenges us, as well, to attack the walls that protect our ignorance, our false assumptions, our false narratives, our flawed world view, our flawed self view, our flawed view of others.

And then once we tear it down to rebuild a citadel around the value system and the world view that Jesus introduced to the world. Because Jesus introduced the kingdom of God to the world. And he said, "Everyone is invited to participate in it". But if you're gonna participate in it, you've got to embrace it. And to embrace it, you got to get rid of some things you have thought and believed perhaps your entire life. Things you never chose to believe. But because of where you live, where you were born, how you were treated, you've just grown up believing. And then he says once these things are destroyed, you're to rebuild this value system around the God, around what Jesus taught, who came to reveal what God was like, and what God likes, and who God likes.

And again, this is so difficult. He's writing to a group of people, whose world view is shaped by things that we find so repugnant, that we think, how could anybody believe that? And the reason you respond to what I'm about to show you with, how could anybody believe that? Is because of where you were raised, and how you were raised and where you lived in the period of time you were raised in. Again, we are all victims of this dynamic. But he's writing to a group of people who grew up with a narrative that looks like this.

That people are property, that was just assumed. Anybody in the first or second century at any time could become somebody's property. This had nothing to do with race, this had everything to do with economics. This had everything to do with where you lived. This had everything to do with whether or not Rome decided to conquer your village, or conquer your nation, and enslave 20% of the population. You could be the wealthiest person in your town, and you could be somebody's property. It's the world they lived in, they just assumed that's just the way the world is.

The assumption was might makes right. Whoever's got the most weapons, and the biggest army, they determine what's right. There's no morality that everybody subscribes to, there's no morality that sits on top of the population, or the populations. Whoever has the might makes the rules and that becomes right. Right can change overnight. And number three, the gods determine the fate of the individuals. Something happens to a child, well that was just the child's fate. Something happens to a woman, that's just the woman's fate. Something happens to a village, that's just fate. The gods, you know you can't trust them. You got to worship them and try to keep them happy.

So, this world view we can't even imagine that he had his work cut out for him. Yet he shows up, and he begins to try to help them understand, God has done something new. And you have to renew your mind, you have to renew your thinking to this brand new world, this brand new kind of invisible kingdom that God has introduced to Planet Earth. And just as he had his work cut out trying to convince them. I think if he were today he'd have his work cut out trying to convince us. Because the interesting thing is this. As wrong as all of this appears to us, it was self evident, it was self evident. It was like well yeah! It was self evident in the first century.

And so many things that are self evident to us are wrong. And they stand in contrast and conflict to the kingdom of God that Jesus introduced to Earth. So, with that in mind here's what he says to Christians living in Corinth, here's what he says to us. "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does". So he starts his whole military, he starts using military terminology. Literally this means, we do not conduct our military campaigns the way the world does. Sounds kind of violent, he goes on. "The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world".

Oh, so there's weapons yeah. And weapons here, the Greek idea, the idea behind the term he uses for weapons, this is not like swords and shields. This is like siege equipment. Like towers that you roll up to a wall to go over a wall, or catapults you use to knock down walls, these enormous structures. On the contrary, he says, "On the contrary they", these weapons that we're gonna use, "have divine power to demolish strongholds". And a stronghold, again, would be the stone wall around the city, or a stone wall around a palace, or some kind of stone structure.

And he says, the weapons that we use have the power to destroy even the strongest structure. To which you know if you're following along you're thinking, what is he talking about? Does this have anything to do with me? Because I never attack a stone wall, we don't do that. And he says, okay let me tell you exactly what I'm talking about. We are demolishing, here's what he says. "We", talking about these new Christians, talking about Christians in the 21st century. "We are demolishing arguments". Not physical stone walls. We're not trying to overcome a physical army. We are in the process of using all of our skill, and all of our might to demolish arguments.

Specifically to tease this out, we, we are to wage war on flawed conclusions based on false assumptions. That we have to go to war with our flawed conclusions that drive our decisions, based on false assumptions. Again, just to keep you with me, let's go back to middle school and high school. Remember in middle school and high school, you were never wrong. I mean you were rarely ever wrong. So what did your parents face? When your parents are laying in bed at night, or talking about it, or your aunt and uncle, or whoever raised you, they're talking about, "How do we get through to this kid"? Because they found themselves faced with what? An impenetrable citadel of argumentation.

That's what you were in high school, and I was in high school. I mean, no matter which way they tried to get in that wall, they couldn't get in. No matter which angle they used they tried to get through to you. They tried to get through to me. And I'm like, "No, I don't see it that way, no, I don't see it that way". And we would argue, and argue and argue. And what were they doing? They were trying to get through this wall of argumentation. The Apostle Paul says this to the first century audience. And he would say to you, and he would say to me, "Hey, did you know your heavenly Father's trying to do the same thing with you"?

Just like your daddy did it with you, your heavenly Father's trying to do that with you. He is trying to push through, press through, break through this defense system based on how you were raised, when you were raised, where you were raised, what you've always thought, what happened to you, what didn't happen to you, what you got to accomplish, what you didn't get to participate in. All those things that create all these narratives that stand in conflict. It's the way God wants the world to be, and the way God intended the world to be. And this value system that Jesus introduced when he came to Earth.

He says this, we what we're demolishing, "We demolish arguments". And then he uses a really interesting word, "In every pretension". In fact, in different English translations of the Bible here kind of go in different directions, because it's kind of hard to nail down what the Apostle Paul is saying. But everybody agrees on this. He's talking about high things, tall things. He says we're coming against every high thing, ever arrogant attitude, everything that puffs us up beyond what's true and what's real. Our towering conceit, our presumptuous notions, that set itself up, and now he's getting to the point of this. "That set itself up against the knowledge of God".

In other words we, as Jesus followers, or if you ever decide to become a Jesus follower this is part of the process. That we are to assault head on, intentionally every single day, we are to assault any narrative about ourselves, about the people around us, about the people like us, about the people who don't like us. About the people who are different from us. We are to assault any narrative that stands in contrast to what God has revealed, as we're gonna see in Christ. We are to assault, this is part of following Jesus, this is part of discipleship. We are to assault any narrative that stands in contrast, that stands in conflict, to the knowledge of God.

And here it is. He gets so specific, and we take captive, all this military language. "And we take captive every thought". The idea of captive is we lead into captivity. We take as our own prisoners. We take prisoners of war, chained ankle to ankle and wrist to wrist. We take every thought captive, here it is, "To make it obedient to Christ". He says here's what you have to do, you Corinthians, who see the world in such a different way. You've got to take every single thought and bend it into conformity to what Christ taught. You got to take every attitude and edit it, and bend it, and inform it and train it, so that it's in sync of what Jesus taught, and the values that Jesus introduced to the world. That you are to line it up with the value system, the vision of Jesus for the world.

And this is why, and I say this all the time, but I can't say it enough. This is why reading the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this is why the gospels are so extraordinarily important. Because in the gospels, we get a glimpse of what the kingdom of God would look like if Jesus followers would fully embrace it. In fact, there's this interesting little piece of narrative at the end of Jesus' life. He's kind of getting it, he's got the guys together. He's gonna be arrested very quickly, then things start moving really quick, and he'd be crucified. And so he's kind of summarizing things, and condensing things, and getting the apostles ready for this moment.

He said, I'm gonna leave, and like where you going? Well I can't tell you, you can't come with me, And Peter's like, "Why can't I go"? There's lot of confusion and lots of information, and finally Philip says, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, hey wait, Jesus. I'm sure all this is important, but look. Just show us the Father, and that will be enough for us". If you'll just, if you'll just, what is God like? What does God say? Just Jesus come one, just show us the Father. And Philip was exactly right. If we could see as God sees, we would be more inclined to do as God says.

If you could see yourself the way that God sees you, you would be more inclined to do what God says. If you could see the people around you the way that God sees the people around, if you could see the people around you the way God sees his people, you would be more inclined to treat them in such a way that honors God. So Philip's right it's like, just show us, if you could just show us what God is like, that would actually change everything. That would inform our narrative.

And do you remember what happens in this next moment? It's so powerful. It's one of those moments they should have all gotten up and left the room. But it's too late, they have seen Jesus, knew so many things, they've heard him say so many crazy things. I mean one time, he told this guy who was sick, He said, "Your sins are forgiven". And the leaders, and the teachers of the law said, "Only God can forgive sin"! Jesus was like. Yeah, you know. One time He said, "Something greater than the temple is here"! Okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Jesus. If something greater than the temple is here, then we don't need the temple, just saying. So they've seen this over, and over and over.

And so Philip says, "Just show us the Father". And Jesus smiles, and he looks at Philip. I think He looks at us, and he says, "Don't you know me, Philip"? It's like I didn't ask to know you, I want to, show me what, show me God, show me the Father! "Don't you know me, Philip"? I mean this is so blasphemous they should have all gotten up and left the room. "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time"? Then he just says the most amazing thing. And I'm telling you, this is the invitation of a lifetime in a world, the world we live in, where we have access to this literature 24/7.

He says, "Anyone who has seen me", remember this? "Has seen the Father", don't miss this. In other words Jesus said, "Do you want to know what God is like? Watch me. Do you want to know what God is like? Listen to me. Do you want to know what God is like? Follow me. Do you want to know what God thinks about you? Listen to me. Do you want to know what God thinks about the people around you who are nothing like you, and don't like you? Listen to me. Do you want to know how God views the world? Follow me. Do you want to live with a liberating life giving narrative? One that will correctly inform your conscious, that will correct your false assumptions? That will inform your behavior, and ultimately change your attitude even toward the people you have nothing in common with? The people who are nothing like you, the people you have such a difficult time liking? Then follow me, 'cause I have come to introduce the kingdom of God to Earth".

And everyone is invited to participate in it. But you're never gonna fully participate unless you go hard after the walls that support all your incorrect assumptions, and your prejudice, and your wrong ways of viewing yourself and the people around you, and the way that the world works. You've got to tear down. Another occasion He said this again, these big statements. "While I am in the world", because He was leaving. "While I am in the world, I'm the light of the world. If you want to know what the world really looks like, if you want to know how the world really looks, then follow me, follow me and together we will demolish arguments, we will demolish every high and lofty thing. We will demolish every pretension lifted up against the knowledge of God. And you will take captive every single thought. You will take captive every single thought to obedience to me".

Jesus said, "Follow me. And you'll begin to change the way you think. Follow me, you'll have a brand new narrative. Follow me and you'll see the world as it is, that the world is broken. But that my Father redeems broken things. Follow me and you'll begin to understand that you as an individual, you really do matter to God. And follow me and you'll discover that the you beside you also matters to God". Which means the you beside you should matter to you, because the you beside you matters to God. Regardless of you political persuasion, regardless of where they live, how they live, and how they treat you.

"Being full of yourself", He says, "will leave you empty. Follow me and you'll discover that emptying yourself will leave you full". Jesus would say this, He would say, some of us learned this as children this little story, we learned a song to go along with it. He said, "Look", Jesus said, "Look, your never gonna get closer to understanding the Father than me. If you look past me, you're missing God. If you stop short of me, you're missing God".

God loved you so much, He didn't send something written. God loves you so much, He became flesh and dwelled among you. And in the first century, when it was almost impossible for this to happen, many people sat down and wrote out what I taught, wrote out what I did, and wrote out accounts of my life. And they have survived through the ages, because your heavenly Father wants you to know what He's like. And He wants you to live in accordance with the reality that He introduced to the world through Christ.

And so Jesus could say things like this. "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice". Doesn't just hear them and go, "That's good, never heard that before". Every single person that hears these words of mine, and changes their internal narrative, so they can begin to act on the words of Jesus. Is like a wise man who builds his whole life on a firm foundation. Then Jesus would warn, He'd say like we said last time that if you don't, you have the potential to becoming your own worst enemy.

And then Paul closes this same passage with these words that could be so easily misunderstood. That's he's making such a powerful point. He says this, "And", this is back to I Corinthians, "And", II Corinthians, excuse. "And we will be ready". This is military terminology again, we will be at attention. We will be on guard, we will be ready. We will be ready to punish. And the idea here is to bring justice to, to respond appropriately to, "And we will be ready, we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete".

His idea, the idea here is this, that we as individuals should be ready to react swiftly when our old narratives start cropping back up. We should be willing to respond quickly when we begin, when we refuse or forget to bend our attitudes, and bend our thoughts, and bend our presuppositions and our assumptions toward the words and towards obedience to Christ. That we should respond quickly when we find ourselves rebuilding old walls, walls that keep people out, walls that shut us in with people who are only like us.

So here's the question, and I'm gonna go ahead and give you the answer to the question okay, it's not a trick question. The answer is yes, okay so would you please just repeat after me, yes? Once more, time. Okay so here's the question. Got any strongholds that need to be demolished? Yeah you do. Ah, the subjects mental of you Andy. No it's just true, it's true of you, it's true of me. Why, because I can't help the way I was raised, where I live, where you were raised and way you lived, what you were taught, your education, your lack of education, where you were educated. The things that happened to you, the things that didn't happen. You can't help any of that.

So consequently, we are always at war potentially with the narratives that want to creep up and misinterpret the world around us. So, to get you started, and to kind of meddle in your business just a little bit, I'm gonna ask you a list of questions. And most of these questions won't have anything to do with you, and you will be so happy they don't. But a couple of these questions may just hit you right between the eyes. And here's the reason I'm asking you these questions. I want you to listen to the narrative that pops into your mind when I ask you these questions.

I'm not saying your narrative is right or wrong. I'm just saying I want you to be aware of it. And then maybe later today when I get to a question that intersects with your actual life, you'll find yourself going, that's true. Why do I think that? Why do I assume that, why do I respond that way? So here's some questions for you, you ready? Why don't you call your brother? Why won't you call your sister? Why won't you call your dad? Why won't you call your mom? Maybe for some of you it's why won't you call your oldest son? Why do you drink so much? Why do you respond the way you respond when people point out that maybe you drink too much? 'Cause you have a narrative.

For all those questions you have a narrative, right? Why did you move in with him? Why did you move in with her? Why did you file for divorce? What do you tell yourself, what do you tell yourself about why you aren't more generous with your money? What do you tell yourself about why you won't pay your taxes? What do you tell yourself about why you just despise Republicans, or Democrats? Or rich people, poor people? Or white people, or black people, or brown people, or immigrants? What do you tell yourself? What do you tell yourself about why you gave up on God and why you gave up on church? Have you listened to that narrative lately? And what happens, what happens to your narratives, and what happens to my narratives when we hold it up to this?

"For God so loved the world". For God so loved you. For God so loved the you beside you, that he gave his only Son. Do they start to feel kind of small and petty? And maybe in conflict with the world view that you say you have subscribed to as Jesus followers? What happens to your narratives when you hold them up against this? "You're not your own". You're not your own, you don't belong to you. You have been purchased with a price. "Therefore honor God with your bodies".

My friends, it's a big deal, we could spend weeks on this. Pay attention to your narratives. Here's how you know you're in an incorrect narrative, because you become your own worst enemy. All you have to do is think back to a season in your life, when you were your own worst enemy. And I guarantee you, you had a supporting narrative for those decisions you now regret. When you think back to that season, that decision, that relationship, whatever it was, where you were looking back, it's like, I can barely laugh about it, I can barely tell the story. I was my own worst enemy, I did it to myself.

You had a supporting narrative to support those decisions you now regret. And those narratives stood in stark contrast to the liberating, life giving narrative that Jesus introduced to the world and invited you to step into. So I got an idea, it's not my idea, it's an idea. I stole it from Paul. Let's demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Let's take every thought captive, to make it obedient to Christ.

So here's the commitment I would like for you to make. Last week I asked you to make a commitment as it related to pay attention to the tension. Here's the commitment I would like you to consider this week. Would you be willing to commit, just try this for a week, I will demolish every narrative that conflicts with the value system introduced by Jesus. I will demolish, and I use Paul's word, I know it's a big word, it's a powerful word, it's a violent word, but this is a big deal. There's a lot at stake! I will demolish, I will come against, I will tear down every narrative.

As I listen to those things run through my mind, I think wait a minute, that's not what Jesus would do. Wait a minute, that's not what a Christian would do. Wait a minute, that's not what a Christ follower would do. Wait a minute, that's not the way somebody who really believes there's a personal God would think. I will demolish every narrative that conflicts with the value system introduced by Jesus. My friends, you hear us talk about follow Jesus, follow Jesus, follow Jesus, make your life better. You heard us say our mission for our church is to inspire you to follow Jesus. The mission for our whole organization is to inspire people to follow Jesus. This is what it looks like to follow Jesus.

It's not simply pray a prayer. It's not simply believe a list of things. It's tearing down everything on the inside that gets in the way of us living it out in the real world. To embrace His view, His values, and His vision for the world. To repeal and to replace the views, values and visions that we've grown up with, and the ones that we are so incredibly comfortable with. 'Cause in the end, it's true, what do I say all the time? In the end, following Jesus really will make your life better. And when we follow Jesus, we make the world a better place. And when you follow Jesus, when you follow Jesus, odds are you will never become your own worst enemy. Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention to your narratives.
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