Craig Groeschel - The Enemy of Your Mental Health
Have you ever noticed how you can be in a crowded room full of people and still feel alone? Have you ever noticed how your schedule can be really full, but your life feels kind of empty? Have you ever noticed that you can have lots and lots of conversations, but have little authentic connection? It's a problem in our world today. And I was reading an article by a mental health expert that said, interestingly enough, most people in our culture today, they're actually seeking independence. They don't want to need anybody else, and they don't actually want to be needed by anybody else. And we see it nowadays as people kind of just scroll safely at a distance on social media, without any real intimate interaction. Or we'll go to school or the gym with our headphones in and our hoodie on telling everybody, essentially, just leave me alone.
I ain't got time for you. Or we'll bank online, shop online, even watch sermons online. Seeking a life where we're not needed or known. And I would say it this way: that many people, we're intentionally pursuing a life that destroys our mental health and robs us of real joy and lasting commitment. We're pursuing a life that is contrary to what God wanted us to have. God never intended it to be that way. So how do you live a life of authentic connection and genuine community, where you belong, and you have not just an individual purpose, but a shared purpose with a group of people? Well, we're gonna look today at the words of Paul in the Book of Galatians. Galatians chapter two.
Galatians 6:2. And Paul said this. He said, "Carry each other's burdens," now watch this, "and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ". If you want to do what you were created to do, if you wanna do what God commanded, if you wanna be like Jesus, if you wanna fulfill the law of Christ, what do you do? You carry each other's burdens. What do you not do? You don't ignore everybody's burdens, you don't tolerate their burdens, but you actually get close enough to know what those burdens are and to actually share them.
Today, we're gonna do something different, and I'm really excited about it. I'm actually going to share this message with three young communicators. At Life.Church, we don't believe the emerging generation is the future of the church. We believe they're the church of today. And so a few weeks ago, we had 104 different communicators preach God's Word. And today we've chosen three of them to team teach this message, and I hope you're gonna help them do it today, because I'm gonna share the blessing of preaching God's Word. What do we know in real community? Well, we're gonna discover today that we share our food, we show our flaws, and we fight together. So please, today, at All Life.Church locations, help show some love as we welcome our first speaker today from Life.Church Rogers. We have Pastor Qualan Johnson. Oh, come on, Life.Church. Come on!
Qualan Johnson: Well, as Pastor Craig mentioned, my name is Qualan Johnson, and I get the honor and privilege of serving as a youth pastor in Life.Church Rogers in Arkansas, Rogers. Friends, stand up. Let's go! But listen, man, speaking of family, I'll show you a little bit of my family. This is my wife Maggie behind me. This is my daughters, Tatum and Layla. And this is my cousin SJ, who's lived with us for some time. And when I say it's an honor to be here, I remember the first time that I walked into Life.Church Midwest City in Oklahoma, and I was broken in more ways than I could count. I was trying to find my identity in everything else besides Jesus.
And I sat down in a chair, and I looked up on the screen, and I thought to myself, "Who could hear Jesus on the screen"? And then I saw Pastor Craig be vulnerable in ways that I've not seen vulnerability, teach God's Word that made sense to me, that I could apply. And because of God's grace, and Pastor Craig, because of your faithfulness, I just wanna say thank you. And can we give it up for our pastor? And by the way, you can hear from Jesus on the screen. Oh my God, yeah. I hope you realize today that we are a product of people's investments into our lives. And as Pastor Craig said, my point is we share our food.
Now, I can, you know, right now you're smiling at me, but, you know, when it comes to food, some of y'all ain't willing to share at all, right? Especially me when it comes to Thai food. But I think my daughter has a good face, to show you a little bit of what she looks like. This is a picture of my daughter, come on, a video of her. Look as I put my hand on her plate. Look at that. Cute. Look, look, she brings a smile with it. Come on. And then the eye roll. Y'all gotta pray for me, man. We're all like that, right? Especially when it comes to our lives. Our first thought is to guard and to protect what matters most. Which raises the question, what are you guarding?
So I want you to look back here. We're gonna go through the scripture in Acts 4:32. And this is how the early Christians thought. It says, "All believers were united in heart and mind. They felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had". They felt what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. Brand-new believers in Jesus trying to learn how to live amongst each other and apply the teachings of the disciples, and they shared everything they had. In other words, they shared their lives, they shared their food. Which raises the question for me, how many people in your life have refrigerator restrictions versus refrigerator rights?
Now, you may be asking what that means. And I got a picture of my own refrigerator up here with some things in it. That's okay. But if you were to come to my house when I was growing up, one of the things that I know is that you had refrigerator restrictions. You couldn't just walk inside of my house and open up the refrigerator and grab anything out of it. Why? Because you didn't pay any bills, and you might actually catch a phantom smack. You know what I mean? My mom would've told you, "Go sit down somewhere," right? But I had some friends that I could go and I could get into the refrigerator, get anything that I wanted because I had trust, because I had access.
So what I'm asking you is, who has access in your life? Who has trust in your life? I had a friend of mine come over to my house, and he'd been over my house plenty of times. His name is Logan. And he went to the refrigerator this time by himself, without asking. Now, my cousin SJ comes up to me, and he's like, "Does Logan know that you don't just go into anybody's refrigerator and grab anything out of there, right"? And I'm like, I'm laughing, but what it made me realize is that Logan didn't have refrigerator restrictions. He had refrigerator rights. Because we share our food. And what I'm learning is that in life, we're gonna need people who have refrigerator rights.
Early on in my marriage, my wife and I were struggling relationally. We were alone. We needed community. And truthfully, I was in panic, because I didn't know how to share my life with my wife or become one with another person. And truthfully, to call it how it is, I was Team Q instead of Team Johnson. And I'll never forget the day that I walked into our one-bedroom condo, and my wife was laying across the bed, and I looked over at her as I sat in our office chair and said, "I don't think we should be married anymore". We were struggling. And at this time, two people came into our lives, and we were doing some community shopping. Some people know what that's like. You go out and you hang out with a group of people, and you try to figure out who you click with the most. And we were playing intramural basketball when James and Dom walked into our lives.
Now, you know when you find your people, you want to do everything together. So in the middle of 2020, everybody knows what was happening in 2020. I mean, we binge watched shows. "Legend of Korra". Yes, I'm grown, and I still watch cartoons. Right? We cooked out, we double dated. We did everything together. And what I love the most about James and Dom is that my wife could go to Dom and process things, and I could go to James and process things. And what was interesting was that they would show us support, they would listen to us, but they would always point us back to one another. See, James and Dom weren't Team Q or Team Maggie. They were Team Johnson. And we got to do the same for them in their marriage. Why? Because we had refrigerator rights in each other's lives.
And across all of our locations and online today, 100% guaranteed you are gonna actually have a need. And are you going to stay guarded? Are you going to stay protected away from everyone? Are you going to give and allow people to have refrigerator rights? It might be time to go community shopping, because what I know is in order to go far, we have to grow close. And in order to grow close, we have to share our food. That's right. Right. Speaking of sharing, I get the chance, I get the honor to preach with two communicators today that are amazing. Would you please help me welcome my friend Tiffany Peters?
Tiffany Peters: Thank God, sir. My name is Tiffany Peters, like you said, and I have the honor of being the LifeKids pastor at Our Life.Church in Mansfield, Texas. Shout out to all my Texas people. This is my family. There they are. My handsome husband, Doug, he brought out the cowboy hat just for you guys. Our beautiful daughter, Lexi, and our handsome boys, Tucker and Cannon. And I believe that we all probably have a few things in common, right? We all have a little food to share, and we all have flaws to hide. We all have things that we are insecure about, things that we are embarrassed by. But in a community that honors God, we bear each other's burdens.
Like Q said, we share our food, and point number two, we show our flaws. Now, you might be thinking, "Wait, what did she just say? Did she say show our flaws? No, flaws are meant to be covered up. They are meant to be hidden. They are not meant to be shared". In today's society, we have gotten so good at covering up the things that we do not like about ourselves. But in a community that honors God, we show our flaws. Now, I know that life can be hard. We've all been through things, or maybe we're going through something right now that we would rather know one else know about. Maybe you're in a mountain of debt. Maybe you have a past that you would rather forget. Maybe you are struggling with an addiction, or maybe your marriage is on the rocks.
We all struggle. But so often the fear of rejection causes us to struggle alone. I get it. Really, I do. I have a past, and it affected me for a long time. And if I'm being honest, sometimes it still does. And I didn't grow up in the church. And so when my family first started coming to Life.Church, I was an adult. And I had this idea in my head that I had to have it all together. And since I didn't have it all together, I definitely pretended like I did. And the longer that we came to church, the more that we heard Pastor Craig talking about joining a LifeGroup and having community around you and how life is better together.
So we joined a LifeGroup. We met some amazing friends. And one of the nights that we were at our LifeGroup, a friend of ours opened up about something that he had been struggling with. He talked about his sexual sins in his life and how they were still affecting the relationships that he had to this day. And this was crazy to me, because with these people, church people, you don't talk about things like that. In my mind, if people knew the things that I had done, that I would be judged, I would be rejected. But right here in this moment, when Chris was being honest, he wasn't judged, he was loved.
I had read in Romans before how Paul says to accept one another just like Christ has accepted us, but I had never seen it play out in a setting like this. And I couldn't believe what was happening here. I am literally suffering in silence for years over the things that I had walked through in my life, and here he is just being open and honest. And he wasn't judged, he was loved. In that moment, I began to understand what Pastor Craig says. How we might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses. And that is exactly what was happening here. Our LifeGroup felt so connected in that moment.
Remember, Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry each other's burdens. And Chris opening up in our LifeGroup and the response that he received, that is exactly what was happening. And that stuck with me. I wanted that for myself. I wanted it so bad. I wanted real relationships with people who knew the things that I had walked through in my life, the things that I had done, and they still loved me anyway. So in that moment, even though I was afraid, I mustered up literally all the courage that I could, and I opened up. I was sexually assaulted when I was 15 years old by a boy who took something from me that wasn't his to take.
And in that moment when it happened, I was so afraid and so confused. I thought that I should have known better, that I should have done something different, and so I blamed myself. My self-worth was shattered. I was hurting and I was alone. I tried to numb the pain in the worst possible ways. I drank a lot, and it led to even more brokenness. I gave myself away to anyone who showed me any ounce of attention because I thought that that was all that I was good for. I did things that I am not proud of, in an attempt to take control of a life that felt so out of control, and I was ashamed. And I let it become my identity. I believed the lies that I was telling myself: that I was disgusting, that I was unworthy, and I was unlovable.
And when I said all of those things out loud in our LifeGroup, I couldn't believe what I had just done. I literally wanted to run away and hide, to take it all back, 'cause I was so afraid of their response. But just like Chris, I wasn't judged, I was loved. My LifeGroup confronted the lies that I believed about myself with the truth about who God says that I am. And I can still hear them speaking these words over me today. They told me that God says that I'm forgiven, that I am worthy, and Christ in me is enough. And some of you today, you need to hear me say those same things to you. You are forgiven. You are worthy, and Christ in you is enough. When we open up, when we are honest about the things that we struggle with, God tends to speak through the people that he has placed around us directly to those broken parts of our hearts.
Proverbs 28:13 says, "Whoever conceals their sins, who hides the things that they are ashamed of, who hides the things that they are struggling with, they do not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces, the one who brings them to the light, who opens up, you find mercy". Not judgment, not condemnation, but mercy. And that same mercy is available to you today in community. Maybe you feel trapped. I get it. Under the weight of it all, you are afraid of rejection. But in godly community, we bear each other's burdens. The heaviness that we feel, the load that we have been carrying, it becomes lighter.
Now, the details of our stories may be different, but I do know that the same truths that were there for me then are here for you today. You are not what you have done, or what has been done to you. You are stronger than your addictions. You are an overcomer in Christ. All things are possible, including your recovery, your redemption, your restoration, and real life-giving relationships. You are not a burden. Your struggles are not too much. Healing is available to you through Jesus and in God's people in community. Life and freedom are waiting for you on the other side of vulnerability. In godly community, we share our struggles. The load is lighter when we bear each other's burdens. Remember, we may impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses. Help me welcome our next speaker, Mr. Tanner Newman, to the stage.
Mr. Tanner Newman: So my name is Tanner Newman, and for the last six years I've had the privilege of being the youth pastor at Life.Church in Shawnee. Shout out to all my people in Shawnee, Oklahoma. And for the last 10 years, I have made this place my home. And to be on the stage is more of an honor than I could possibly say. For the last 10 years, my life has been impacted by Pastor Craig's example, his leadership in this church, and I am forever different because of what has happened here. And what have we learned? We've learned that we all have food to share, we have flaws to show, and also that we fight together. Because what combines everything that we walk through in life, what unifies us all is this: is that we have a spiritual enemy who wants to do nothing but steal, kill, and destroy in our life.
And it happens in different ways for every single one of us. It's the little whispers of shame that says, "No matter how hard you try, you will never be good enough. You will never get over this". Or it could be the anxiousness that grips your chest, that makes you feel completely alone in your experiences. It's the brokenness in your home that nobody knows about. It's the way that you've been praying and asking God to change something in your child's life, yet still you watch them suffer every day. It's the way that you've been carrying the burdens of your family and nothing is getting better. We have a spiritual enemy who wants nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy in our life. And I'm grateful for the words of Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus, and who had his own fair share of ups and downs in life.
And this is what he said in 1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. To resist him, in the Greek, what Peter actually writes there, it means to fight against. It is a active posture. Meaning that whatever comes your way, it's not a matter of if, but when. When the enemy comes, what do you do? You fight in faith. See, the truth is, is that we do have a spiritual enemy, but we also have a savior. And his name is Jesus. And because of Jesus, because of who he's and what he's done for us, he provides peace, he provides healing. He is our God who loves us and who sees you today. We have a savior who knows you. And so when it comes to the battles that we walk through in life, we don't fight for victory. We fight from victory.
Now, what does that look like? What does that mean? That means that that thing that you think will never get better, the thing that you've dismissed, the thing that weighs heaviest on your heart, God is not only with you in the middle of that situation, but God is also surrounding that situation. He's bigger than anything that you will ever go up against because that's how good and how great our God is. He is for you today. That is something that we can stand on and believe. We have a savior who sees us, who fights for us, and who loves us. So what do we do? We carry one another's burdens, but we also allow someone else to carry our own.
In 2021, my wife and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child, which was incredible news. This is something we've been praying for forever. But the thing was is that because of some medical conditions that my wife had, this was also incredibly scary news. So we knew going into starting a family that there was a pretty high likelihood, about a 50/50 shot, that if we had a child, it was a possibility that they wouldn't make it past the age of 15. So this was a huge decision. And as we met with doctors and geneticists, the weight got more and more real. The ways that we begin to process and talk together, Lauren and I, my wife, we would sit and we would just wonder, "Why would God tell us to do this, but this feels so heavy, this feels so overwhelming"?
And I got to a point where I just could not handle it anymore. And it was in that time I began to talk with my LifeGroup about what we were feeling and what we were walking through. And so the day comes where Lauren has our son, Noah, and it's the most beautiful day in the world. A day I will never forget. And this is a picture of our son right after he was born. Despite the circumstances, what we knew and believed is that God knew this baby, and that he created him for a purpose, no matter what that looked like. After he was born there was tests that had to be done, and we had to wait seven days.
And that was the longest week of my life. Because here I am, a brand-new father, holding a baby for the very first time. And I'm holding my son, and I'm looking at him, and I'm wondering, "Does he have it? Is he going to be okay"? And all I can think of is, "What have I done? Why would God ask me to do this? Why would he tell me to do this"? Because what if the worst fear in the world as a parent, that you lose your child, what if this happens? And I walk into the doctor's office, and I'll never forget it. I walk in, and I looked at my wife right before we walked in. I said, "No matter what, God is good".
And we walk in, and I go to sit down. And the doctor knew about the circumstances. Before I could even sit, he says, "Your son is completely healthy". And in that moment, my friends, I felt a joy that I have never felt before. And I fell to my knees, and I called my family. I called my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother-in-law. And tears were everywhere. Snot was everywhere. But the next call was to my LifeGroup. Because for weeks, for months, I had been calling my friend Michael and Aaron. And I've been saying, "Guys, I just need to say this. I don't even know if you're gonna look at me the same way anymore, but I need you to know this is where I'm at right now".
And I remember sitting in my living room and Sierra and Nayeli and Sarah looking at my wife and saying, "You didn't cause this. God sees you. He caress about the cries of your heart". And it was that that carried us through up until this moment, because the reality was we had this moment to celebrate. But here's the thing that's true. Had it not been what we wanted and what we prayed for, I still had that group of people that were there for me no matter what. That loved me no matter what. That loved our son, Noah, no matter what. And I wanna show you a picture of him today. This is my son today. He's beautiful and perfect. And as I think about this picture and what it represents, it is a culmination of prayers, of God's providence, of God's sovereignty.
And I think about what that moment represents. To celebrate with somebody, but to also know that, whether it's a high moment or a low moment in life, God's people were there with me. They loved me so much. And what I want to think about and process with you here right now, as you're watching, whether it's online or one of our locations somewhere, what does this look like for you? As you're carrying the weight of the world on you shoulders, what does this look like for you? Because the truth is, your burden may be too big to carry. By yourself. Because believers who followed Jesus, they desperately knew that they had to come together. They needed one another to carry one another's burdens. And we seem to know that, but have forgotten it. Today, your life could look different. And it could simply just start with sharing your food, showing your flaws, and fighting together. Right now, let's go back to Pastor Craig.
Pastor Craig: Yeah, come on, church. Can you tell our speakers thank you today for sharing God's Word in a way that impacts our lives? God is going to call you, if you want to fulfill the law of Christ, to carry one another's burdens. And so some of you, it's time to take a step of faith toward real community. In fact, there'll be a QR code that will come on the screen. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna challenge you right now. God did not create you to do life alone. If you're ready to find your people, if you're ready to take a risk, if you're ready to open up your refrigerator and share your life and your food, and show some flaws because there's healing when we do, and fight together with the people of God, who will stand by you and help you live a life that will honor God and defeat the prince of darkness who comes against you, you cannot do it alone.
It's time to take a step of faith into very real community. And this is so emotional to me because of what God has done in our lives. Here's the deal. In order to carry one another's burdens, what do you need to do? You need to carry someone else's burden, don't you? And that's kind of easy to do 'cause that makes you feel good when you help somebody else. But here's what takes even more courage, sometimes, is not to carry someone else's burden, but to let someone else carry yours. And I just want to say to my church family, thank you. Thank you for praying for me when I lost my dad and loving me through the tears. Thank you for helping to raise my kids. Like, the church helped raise my kids.
A few weeks ago, my son, Steven, he got married to his best friend, Ashlyn. He tried to kiss her like, five times in the wedding before they got to the kissing part. And they went to our family place for 23 years. We go to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. And so he went there for his honeymoon. And the first morning after he got there on his honeymoon, Sunday morning, you know what he did? He texted me. See, on vacation we go to church because we're people of God. That's what we do. We always go to church. So he texted me the first morning of his honeymoon. He said, "Dad, Dad, what church do we go to"? On his honeymoon. The kid wanted to take his bride on the first day of his honeymoon to church. Community.
Now, let me tell you why that's so special. Because you go a few years back, and Steven would be the first to tell you, in fact, I've heard him talk about it in sermons, and I learned things about him I didn't know in sermons, is that he wasn't taking God seriously in some seasons in his teens. And that was a burden that we shared with our community. And David, you helped mentor him. And there were other men in our LifeGroup and our community who were examples to him and would be a father figure to him. And there are people who prayed for him and loved him into the strength of who he is today. And so I say, thank you for carrying my burdens, sharing my joys. I need you, you need each other, and you are not created to do life alone. You're just dumb. Dumber than dumb. Call yourself a Christian and not be engaged in the body of Christ?
We talk a lot about having a personal relationship with Jesus. I'll tell you what's even more biblical: is a shared relationship with Jesus. Because we share our food, and we show our flaws, and we fight together. That's what we do. There's a fundamental difference between the first-century Christian that shared everything and Christians today. I'll tell you what it is. The first-century believers desperately needed each other, and they knew it. And believers today desperately need each other, and they've forgotten it. So I invite you. We call them LifeGroups. We come together different days of the week, open up God's Word, get to know each other. We do life together. What do we do? Listen, we share it all. We share our food. We show our flaws, and God still loves us. And we stand together. We're better together because we fight together. And God wants you to have that.
So God, stir within our hearts. Give us the faith to step out, to take some risks, to get to know others, to let them in. God, help us to fulfill the law of Christ by carrying the burdens of someone else who needs our strength. And God, give us the courage to let someone else in who can carry ours.
As you're praying today, wherever you are, those of you who say, "I want even deeper community in the family of God," would you raise your hands? All of you raise them up right now. I'm just telling you right now, I want deeper community. It's what you want. It's what we need. We are the body of Christ. We're the family of God. We don't do this alone.
God, I just pray that your Holy Spirit would make the divine connections. I pray, God, that even before people would leave the building, they might meet someone and invite them to lunch. It might be someone who prays for somebody else. God, you might speak to someone, give something to someone. God, create community. God, give us the desire, Lord, even in the lobbies, to talk to someone and say, "Help me find the right LifeGroup". God, take us to our people that we could be the body of Christ and carry one another's burdens and fulfill your law. God, help us to love and be loved, to share, and even receive. God, thank you that we're not alone. We have your power of your spirit, we have your presence, and we have your people to do life with. Help us to let them in, to trust, to need your family, and to give what we have to bless others.
As you keep praying today, let's talk about community. God's kind of a community: father, son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one. He's kind of a community. God created us. Why? Not because he needed us, because he loved us. He wanted to love us. God sent his son, Jesus. Why? Not to make us religious, but because he loved us. For God so loved the world. What does he want? He doesn't want you to be religious. He wants you to be in a relationship with him. I grew up thinking you had to follow a bunch of rules. I didn't realize God is a relational God. The first thing he did was he spoke. He created Adam. He said, "It's not good that you're alone". He created Eve to be a helpmate for Adam because he wants us in community, and he wants us to know him and be known by him.
There are those of you today, you may believe in God, but you don't know him. You may have a head knowledge of him, but you don't have a heart relationship with him. Guess what? You are not here by accident, because a loving God is loving you and drawing you right now. What do you do? You just say yes to a relationship with him. What blocks it? Well, our sinfulness blocks it. God is a holy God. And when we cry out to his son, Jesus, he forgives our sins. It removes the barrier, and we begin a relationship with him. But guess what? You're not just gonna start an individual or personal relationship. We're the people of God. We have a shared relationship. You enter into a family the moment you call on Jesus.
Wherever you're watching from today, those of you who say, "I need that. I want to know God. I may know about him, but I don't know him". we're gonna step away from our old sinful life, and we're gonna call on Jesus. And when you do, your sins are gonna be forgiven, and you're gonna be new. And God's gonna reveal himself to you. And you're gonna know him in a very personal way. Wherever you are, those who say, "I need him. I need forgiveness of my sins. I want to know him today. I give my life to Jesus." that's your prayer. lift your hands high right now, all over the place today. As we have people saying yes to him, lift up your hands and say, "Yes, Jesus. I surrender to you. I give my life to you". Online, just type it in the comments. I'm surrendering my life to Jesus. I'm surrendering to Jesus. And everybody, would you pray? Pray:
Heavenly father. Today. Help me start a relationship. With you through Jesus. Through Jesus. Forgive me of my sins. Save me. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit. So I could know you. So I could live for you. So I could share your love. Thank you for new life. Give me a community. That knows you. To do life with. To love and to be loved. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus' name I pray.