James Meehan - The Worst Advice You've Ever Been Given
Today, what I wanna talk about is the worst advice that we have all been given. But first I have a confession to make, the movie I have seen most in theaters is not even close to my favorite movie of all time. So my favorite movie of all time is actually three movies. It's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. If you haven't seen it, go watch it. Not right now, after you finish it, Switch online then go watch it because it is incredible. That is in my childhood. It is like the ultimate battle of good versus evil. We're good triumphs in the end, there is sacrifice, there is heroic bravery. All of the good things that we know and love are present in this movie. Then I would say that Batman "The Dark Knight" is technically like number four, I guess. 'Cause that's three movies because that's first and foremost the best superhero movie of all time.
Now Marvel has gotten really close a few times but they have yet to surpass Batman, "The Dark Knight" in my eyes. Movie number five is the movie "Warrior". It is the story of two brothers who are mixed martial arts fighters. One of the brothers is played by Tom Hardy, who also plays Bane in Batman, "The dark Knight Rises" fun fact for you. That movie is incredible. I've got a brother, I trained mixed martial arts for years. There's just something about it that just gets me all jacked up inside. Now all of those movies I named for you I only saw one time in theaters except for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". That's the third "Lord of the Ring" movie. I saw that one twice because the first time I saw it was the midnight premiere and it's a three-hour movie at midnight, definitely fell asleep. It's not because it was boring, it's because I was tired. So I had to go back, rewatch it and finish it. So all those wants, except for the third one twice you heard all that.
Now let's talk about the movies I've seen most one of them "The Greatest Showman". I saw that three times in theaters, twice with the regular theatrical release. And the third time was the Sing-Along Edition. You know what I'm talking about? No, somebody who's nodding their head saying no or shaking their head no. Okay, well it's amazing. So feeling really judged, but the movie I have seen more than any other in theaters is the very first "Frozen" movie. Yeah, let it sink in. There is just something about a really good heartwarming like animated movie with good music, great characters that I just can't get enough of so much so that I literally watched it four times in theaters. I paid movie theater prices four times to watch "Frozen". And so when "Frozen 2" was announced, I was ecstatic, all of the trailers looked incredible. It looks like a little bit darker and grittier and more emotional. And I'm like, yes, I am here for it. And I was there for it and it was trash, like "Frozen 2" was so much worse than the first one.
And it's ridiculous because it's like the songs were worse, the characters like lost so much of their development from the first movie to the second that it just felt like we were retreading old ground, but with worst songs and much less satisfying ending, it's like I'm not gonna spoil it for you, but don't even bother watching it. 'Cause the first one, like I said, incredible. Now here's why I'm talking about "Frozen" because both "Frozen 1 and 2" had the same moral. The moral at the end of both of those movies was this, be true to yourself. And there's something about that, that just sounds good. But the problem is it doesn't like mean anything because if you were to ask somebody, okay, what does that mean? The answer you get in response can be like one of a billion different things. So now there are some of you who are like, okay I was offended when you bashed "Frozen 2".
Now that you're bashing the advice that I most love to give others, I'm extra offended, please don't go away, keep tuning in and keep listening because what I hope to do by the end of our time today is to help you understand how to find the good out of what oftentimes is really bad advice. Because the problem with being told to be true to yourself, is the idea of figuring out what does that even mean? Because in order to be true to yourself, you have to actually know what it is that makes you, you. Because until you know, what makes you, you, you can't be true to you. Are you following. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make in our world today is we assume that part of us is actually all of us. We live in a world where so often we choose to define ourselves based off of things that we like or probably more often than things that we don't like, maybe it's based off of the people we like or maybe the people that we don't like maybe it's based off of our desires our feelings. Like, is that really what makes us us?
And I think if we're pressed on it, we would say no that can't really define all that I am. That's too small, that's too limited but so often I see people placing their identity in their feelings or their desires, or sometimes people will be like, okay, it's not that maybe who I am is where I came from. It's my family, it's my city, it's my neighborhood. Maybe who I am as defined by the groups that I associate with. I go to church so I'm a Christian, that's who I am. Maybe who I am is this political party or that political party. The one that I happen to like better than the other one, there's so many different ways that we can define who we are. But I think that when we investigate all of those different parts of us, what we'll realize is that none of those capture all of us. And so the idea of being true to yourself, the reason why it's bad advice is because unless you know what it is you're looking for, you will never find what you're looking for. It's like trying to get where you're trying to go without knowing where you're trying to go, we'll never get you where you're trying to go.
And so in order for us to actually be able to be true to who we are, we have to know who we really are. A way that like to think about this, is it's that advice where it sounds good, and your like yes, I would love to do that but you just repeating it over and over again, doesn't actually help me do it. It's like imagine your best friend, you guys have been friends forever, they just moved to a new house on the other side of town and one day they're like, hey you should come over so we can hang out. And you're like, I would love to come over and hang out, Where do you live? Well, I live at my house. Okay, cool, but where is that? Like what do you mean it's at my house, just come to my house. But no matter how many times they tell you to come to your house it doesn't actually help you get to your house. Sometimes what we need is not to be told over and over again to how to be true to ourselves, but to actually have somebody point us in the right direction, it's almost like trying to get to your friend's house, you don't even know where they live.
What would be amazing is as they gave you a map. And so I've got my friend Tanner Newman who is onstage right over here. For those of you watching the Switch Online, you've already seen him. This guy right here is going to show us a map and not just any map, ladies and gentlemen, that's the map of Middle-earth, the setting of "Lord of the Rings," the greatest movie trilogy of all time. And what's beautiful about a map is when you see this thing, what you realize is okay, cool cool cool. Like if I'm trying to figure out where I'm wanting to go a map will help me get there but here's the problem with the map is that in order to actually arrive at your destination, where you're trying to end up you have to know where you're starting from. But if I don't even know my starting point I will never arrive at the destination I'm trying to get to. And when it comes to this idea of being true to yourself and finding yourself like how do I find what I'm looking for? If I don't even know what I'm looking for and how do I get where I'm trying to go, if I don't even know where I'm starting from?
So while a map can be a really, really good thing. what's even better than a map is having a guide because the beauty of a guide is they don't just point you in the right direction, they actually walk with you. And what I hope to show you today is that Jesus is the perfect guide because what we'll begin to uncover as we walk through this message is that Jesus, he didn't just introduce a new way of being human, he introduced the true way of being human. And when we begin to discover more of who he is what I believe is we will understand why he is the person we should trust and follow with all that we are because he is the one who can help us get where we're trying to go.
We're in part two of our series, who is Jesus? Where over the next several weeks, we're gonna be continuing to explore that question, looking at the different titles that were given to Jesus by others or that he used for himself. Because especially those of us who are followers of Christ. If we say we follow Jesus, it's really important to know who Jesus actually is so that we can really follow him. And what I think is so beautiful about the person of Jesus is that throughout history, there's just been something about him that has challenged and compelled people from every generation to put their trust in him, to follow him, to allow him to be their guide.
So last week we talked about Jesus being Emmanuel, which God with us. Today, we're gonna look at Jesus, being the Son of Man. So, who is Jesus? Jesus as the Son of Man. And as we uncover what that title means, I think it's gonna help us understand what it is about him that makes him such a brilliant guide. So we're gonna look in Matthew's gospel which is what we've been reading through over the course of this series in chapter nine. And in this chapter, we're gonna see this encounter that Jesus has with a man who is paralyzed and Jesus is going to heal him miraculously. So we're in Matthew chapter nine, starting in verse one. And here's what this says. It tells us that in verse one, "Jesus stepped into a boat, then he crossed over and came to his own town.
Now some men brought to him another man who was paralyzed. This man is lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, 'Take heart your sins are forgiven.' Then at this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, this fellow, this Jesus is blaspheming but Jesus knowing their thoughts says this, 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to say get up and walk. But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.' So Jesus says to the paralyzed man, 'Get up take your mat and go home.' Then the man gets up and he goes home but when the crowd sees this, they're filled with awe and they praised God who had given such authority to man". Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of Man.
This title was a title that was used more than any other like literally in this one gospel account, Matthew's gospel, the title Son of Man was used for Jesus 30 times that's literally more than once every chapter. And so I think it's important for us. If we wanna know who Jesus is to uncover what it means for him to be the Son of Man. Now there's an author, Donald Miller. He wrote this book titled "Building a StoryBrand," it's incredible. But in it, he talks about this idea that in every great story, people who are struggling and trying to overcome their challenges come to a place where, what they need is a guide and there are two qualities that make for an effective guide. Those qualities are empathy and authority, empathy and authority What does that mean? Empathy, it simply means does this person care enough about me to meet me where I am? Does this person care enough about me to meet me where I am?
Then authority, that means is this person capable of getting me where I need to go? Are they capable of getting me where I need to go? And what's so beautiful about Jesus' title as the Son of Man, is this title answers both of those questions with a resounding yes because this title, the son of man has two primary meanings throughout the Old Testament scriptures. The first meaning that's often used is Son of Man, meaning human being. So maybe you didn't know this but man Hebrew is the word Adam. So like the story of Adam and Eve, Adam's name literally means human. So the idea of Son of Man, son of Adam means son of Adam, descendant of Adam, son of human. So literally Son of Man just means human being. This is used over and over again in the book of Ezekiel Where the profit is equal is having this encounter with God and God refers to as equal as Son of Man to refer to him as a human being.
So when Jesus calls himself the Son of Man, what he's saying is, hey, I'm just like you. I am a human being with flesh and blood, I walk, I talk, I sleep and I poop. Like Jesus was a human being who lived a real life and this is so important for us to wrap our minds around 'cause I think there are some times where like as Christians we can assume that Jesus like glowed and floated six inches off the ground everywhere he went. But the beautiful thing about Jesus is that he experienced hardship and struggle, Just like you. Jesus lived a human life, just like you. Jesus can understand you because Jesus has walked in your shoes. People talk about this idea of empathy is, walking a mile in someone else's shoes, Jesus walked 33 years on this earth. He understands what it means to struggle and to experience hardship, he understands you. Jesus as the Son of Man, Jesus as a human being cares enough about us to meet us right where we are. The second primary meaning of Son of Man is found in the book of Daniel.
Now Daniel was a prophet who lived in the nation of Babylon when the people of Israel had been taken captive they were ripped from their homes, taken to another place and Daniel is speaking this prophetic message of hope. Letting the people of Israel know that there will come a day when God sends a son of man who will rescue us from our captivity. And so in Daniel 7, we are, we get to listen in on this conversation, this vision that Daniel has where God is revealing to him, what's to come someday. So this is Daniel 7:13-14 where it says this, It says, "In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven". He approached the ancient of days, that's another way to talk about God. So the Son of Man approach the ancient of days and he was led into his presence. The Son of Man was given authority, glory and sovereign power, all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion, his kingdom is an ever lasting dominion that will not pass away. His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. To the Son of Man, talks about a human being and also a coming Messiah, a savior that the people are waiting for.
And so when Jesus refers to himself as a Son of Man, what he's talking about is literally both of those things at the same time, he's saying, hey, I have empathy for you because I lived a human life just like you. But I also have the authority to help you get where you're trying to go because I'm not just a human, I'm actually the Son of Man who will establish a kingdom that will never pass away. I have the empathy and authority to meet you where you are and help you get where you're trying to go. This concept of Jesus, being the Son of Man helps us to understand what I believe is one of those beautiful paradoxes in all of Christianity. The idea that Jesus is fully God and fully man Like he is 100% human and 100% divine. There's something special about Jesus who is God and human form that allows him to understand the struggles we've experienced and to help us overcome them and live the lives that God has called us to.
And so Jesus who has all the empathy we could ever want and all the authority we could ever imagine, I believe is the perfect person to be our guide to help us discover who we truly are because Jesus didn't just introduce a new way of being human, he introduced the true way of being human. And so as we look to Jesus, the perfect guide the Son of Man, the question becomes, okay, what does he show us about what it means to be human? How does he help us understand, how to live out the life that we are called to live. Another way to ask the question is what is it that really makes you, you? And I believe that when we allow Jesus to be our guide, what he's gonna show us is something that is so, so beautiful. In the very beginning of the Bible the book of Genesis tells the story of creation, the story of a loving God who created everything and he called it good. And as the final act of creation, this God created human beings And he created them special, Genesis 1:27 tells us this, "That God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God, he created them, male and female he created them".
You see, I believe that the thing that makes you, you is actually the image of God inside you. The thing that makes you, you isn't your feelings, your desires the things you like or you don't like. It's the fact that you are made in the image of God, the creator of heaven and earth created you to be a picture of his goodness, he's love, he's truth, he's justice here on earth. And when we allow Jesus to be our guide, what I believe Jesus will do is guide us back to who we really are and who we've always been. And here's the deal, I get it. I understand why the idea of being true to yourself is so appealing to us because there are so many of us who are going through life overwhelmed by the sense of lostness, we're constantly looking for the answers to the question like, who are we? Why are we here? Where do we belong? What difference do we make? And Jesus, the Son of Man, full of empathy, full of authority, fully God and fully man shows us that the thing that makes you, you is the image of God inside of you.
So to be true to yourself means to live in a way that is consistent with the image of God that is in you. Now, that sounds good. But then like, how do we do that? Like, it sounds cool to be living truly to the image of God that's in us. But like, what does that really look like? And there's this beautiful passage that the apostle Paul wrote in the, his letter to the Colossian church chapter one, verse 15, where he says that, "Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God". Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. What Paul is telling us is that the mage of God, the way that it's meant to look is like Jesus. And so for those of us who are on this journey to discover who we are to live truly with who we were made to be, to live consistent with the image of God inside of us, what does that look like? It looks a lot like Jesus, because Jesus our perfect guide is the visible image of the in visible God. And he has invited every single one of us to follow his example, to experience what it means to be human, to live the life that is truly life because Jesus didn't introduce simply a new way of being human, he introduced the true way of being human.
As we continue to allow Jesus to be our guide. What we're gonna discover is that the process of finding ourselves doesn't look like many of us would think it would because the process of finding ourselves actually starts with losing ourselves. You see in Matthew 16, there's this beautiful teaching that Jesus provides about what it looks like for us to actually find ourselves. And it's one of those things like I said, that I think if we're not careful can catch us a little bit off guard. And so here's your warning. What Jesus is about to tell you will be challenging. But if you're willing to hear his words and put them into practice, what I believe is that you will discover that on the other side of these three steps, he's going to lay out, will be a life that is so much bigger and better than you ever could have imagined.
So in Matthew 16, starting in verse 24 Jesus says this to his disciples. He says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, they must take up their cross and they must follow me. because whoever wants to save their life will actually lose it but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the entire world yet forfeit their soul. Or what can anyone give exchange for their soul"? So here's what Jesus is teaching us. He's telling us, hey, if you want to find yourself here's what you gotta do. Step one, deny yourself and I think this is such a powerful challenge for us today because so much of our world is built around doing what's good for us but Jesus who is the Son of Man said it himself. He says, that the son of man didn't come to be served but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for many, for so many of us on our journey to find ourselves we've made our lives all about us. And the easiest way to live a small life is make it all about you. But if you wanna live a full life, make it all about others and that is exactly what Jesus, who is the visible image of the invisible God demonstrated for us.
So step one on how to find yourself, deny yourself. Step to take up your cross, take up your cross. The cross was Roman instrument for execution. It is literally the torture device that Jesus was murdered with. What Jesus is saying is that, hey, if you wanna find yourself first, you deny yourself and then second you take up your cross daily that means every day you do the hard thing, every day, you die to your desires, you die to your flesh and you choose to live for something bigger than yourself. The third thing you do first, you deny yourself then you take up your cross daily and third you follow Jesus, you follow Jesus. And I think it's really important for us to understand that following Jesus is so much more than just talking about following Jesus. Like following Jesus means actually following him. It means living out the life that he has called us to and I think that for so many of us, we've settled for a version of Christianity that is so much less than what God has for us in this journey to live a full life to live a life that is bigger than ourselves, We've made it all about us.
We've said, yeah, Jesus, I trust you, I believe in you, I go to church sometimes but you know like that whole living your life for others, denying the flesh in your temptations yet, that's really hard So I don't do that very much. And so we never find the life that is truly life. We keep going through life overwhelmed and lost and Jesus showing us how to be found because he as the son of man is the perfect guide who showed up in history to help us understand what it means to be human, to experience a real relationship with God but the first thing we have to do is get over ourselves, we've got to take up our crosses and we have to follow him. I believe Jesus is trying to help us understand that finding ourselves doesn't come from following our desires, it comes from following him.
Jesus is trying to make this point loud and clear. He says, hey, if you wanna find yourself, start by denying yourself, then take up your cross and follow me. He's showing us that, finding ourselves, living true to who we are, doesn't come from following our desires, it comes from following him, the visible image of the invisible God, because the thing that makes you you, is not your desires is not what you like or don't like it is the image of God in you. But if you don't actually follow Jesus you will never discover who you're meant to be. You know, it's interesting because there were many people who when they would read that chapter Daniel 7 and they'd read about the Son of Man who would enter into the presence of God, who would establish a kingdom that would never be overcome and they saw that it was one like a Son of Man. They had this theory that his theory that the Son of Man would literally be one of Adam's sons.
You see Adam and Eve, the first human beings had two kids. They had Cain and Abel, they were brothers, that was their first kids. And there's this moment where Cain murders his brother Abel and it's this horrible picture of what happens when we allow ourselves to be ruled by our desires rather than God's will. And in Genesis 4:10, There's this line that says , "The blood of Abel was crying out from the ground, the blood of Abel was crying out to God from the ground".
And there were many people in Jesus's day who believed that the blood of Abel was crying out for vengeance, was crying out for justice, for Cain to be punished for the crime he committed and when they had this idea of the Son of Man, what they were believing was that this Son of Man this second Abel would show up and would read the nation of Israel from Roman occupation, that the son of Abel would show up and teach the Romans what's what. That this son of Abel would bring vengeance upon the Romans for all the wrongs they had done. But then the author of Hebrews makes this beautiful connection and chapter 12 verse 24, the author of Hebrews tells us, "That the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel".
You see the Son of Man who is Jesus. His blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel, the other Son of Man because the blood of Abel cried out for vengeance but the blood of is what brings us forgiveness. And so as we're walking through this world, trying to find who we really are, what Jesus is showing us is that to live truly, to be who you were meant to be, to live in a way that is consistent with the image of God that is in you, is to choose the path of forgiveness instead of vengeance, it's to choose grace over getting even, it's just choosing to love those who hurt you, even though they hurt you because it is in that path that we will discover who we really are. Because Jesus who is the Son of Man, didn't just introduce a new way of being human, he showed us the true way of being human. And as the son of Abel whose blood brought forgiveness to everyone who had sinned, we can experience what it truly is to live in a relationship with God. So who is Jesus? Jesus is our perfect guide. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus is the Son of Man.
Heavenly Father, I thank you so much for your Son. I thank you that we, as a Switch family get to gather together and worship you.
I know that there are some people right now in this room who, as they're hearing this message, understanding this idea of who Jesus is, what they realize is that for way too long, they've been following their desires rather than following Jesus. And today is the day that changes, if that's you, wherever you are, whether online or in person type it in the chat or raise your hands so that we can pray for you to help you put your trust back in Jesus, rather than your desires.
Heavenly Father, I pray for those people. That you would give them their strength to deny themselves, to take up their crosses and follow you. That you would empower them with your spirit to overcome the temptations of day-to-day life, that it wants life to be all about us and instead commit their lives to something that is so much bigger than them. The mission of your Son Jesus, that he introduced into the world.
I don't know that there's another group of you that as you're hearing this message, this whole idea of Jesus the Son of Man, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus whose blood offers forgiveness, this whole idea of being found, you can't even wrap your mind around it because you've just felt lost for so long. You see the reality is that every single one of us, all of us, we have sinned, we fallen short of God's standard, we've made mistakes, we've done things to hurt ourselves, others in the heart of God. And that sin has fractured the image of God inside of us, it has blinded us to the image of God in ourselves and in others. And because of that for so many of us, we're wandering through life, just hoping we can be found but the beautiful news is that Jesus, who is God in human form, entered history, he left heaven, he walked on this earth to find you. He lived a perfect life but he died a brutal death on the cross. He sacrificed himself so that anybody who puts their trust in him would have their sins be forgiven.
But the good news is that death could not hold him on Easter Sunday, 2000 years ago, the tomb was empty and Jesus who on Friday was a crucified criminal on Sunday was arisen king overcame death and he has invited every single one of us to experience the life that he offers and that might be why you are here today, to surrender your life to Jesus, to put your trust in him, to say "Jesus, today is the day that I give you my life". If that's you lift your hand right now, all over the place. If you're saying Jesus today, I give you my life. Type it in the chat, click on the link saying, Jesus today. I wanna follow you, I wanna give you all of me. And as people are making that choice, all of us together as a Switch family, we're gonna be praying with them because even though they have to make that choice on their own they're not gonna pray alone because we are a family. So repeat after me:
Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin, I'm turning towards you. I need your love, I need your grace, I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life in Jesus name. Amen and amen and amen.