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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - How to Become More Like Jesus

James Meehan - How to Become More Like Jesus

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    James Meehan - How to Become More Like Jesus
TOPICS: Culture Makers

James Meehan: Welcome to this week's episode of Switch Uncut. We're so excited that you are joining with us as we tackle some of your questions in different conversations regarding all things, faith, following Jesus and the Bible. For this week's episode, what we wanted to do is kind of take some extra time to look back and reflect on this first series that we launched this fall semester of Switch with that series is Kingdom People. We started it a little over eight weeks ago, and after eight weeks of journeying together through the sermon on the Mount, we have hopefully discovered a little bit more about what it means to be led by Jesus, shaped by grace and moved by love. And throughout this series, we've received a number of different questions from you that are about all things, Jesus teachings, and the different questions that come from it. But what we want you today is to just stop and reflect on what it is that God has been showing us, me and Kaitlin on this journey, 'cause we've been on this journey for a while, because way before those messages ever aired at Switch IRL or Switch Online, they were conversations that we were having with different students and youth pastors to figure out how can we take the truth that is found in God's word and share it with others? And so that truth has been working on us for a while and we really do believe that that truth is not just something that's meant for us to share with you, but it's truth that God wants to bury deep in us so that we can become more like Jesus. And so that's what we're gonna do today is just talk a little bit about the parts of the sermon on the Mount that have most impacted us over the last several months, and hopefully along the way, you can discover some ways that that truth can also impact you, or even just ways that you can begin to think a little bit differently about how you engage with the scriptures. One last thing before we go on that I wanna recommend to some of you, is that when I personally watch YouTube videos like this, I always play it on 1.5 times speed, because I don't know what it is, but when people talk faster, it just gets my attention a little bit more, and I know there's some of you who have described these videos as like, "Hey, like I love listening to it, but sometimes it's a little bit longer. It doesn't always keep my attention". That's a suggestion that you might try to speed it up to hopefully keep your attention engaged throughout the video, because these are a little bit different than typical videos we make, where it's more of us just sitting down and having a conversation about the truth of God in ways that maybe isn't quite as flashy or engaging as some of our other videos. So I hope that will be helpful for you. With all of that being said, introduction out of the way, Kaitlin, I am coming to you with this question, because today I'm asking the questions, here it is. When you look at the three chapters, Matthew five, six, and seven, the sermon on the Mount that we've walked through over the last eight weeks, what are some of the things that have most stuck out to you?

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Yeah, two things come to mind right off the bat and the week where we talked about that, you know, following Jesus isn't about doing a bunch of good things, it's about becoming people who are good news. That one hit me pretty hard, because something that I've been thinking about and working on with Jesus is this idea that I can put in all of the right inputs, I can do all of the right things, but there are sometimes where the output is still not going to be what I want it to be. I've been thinking about this based on my morning commute, which is a time that is where I have to literally set aside rage and anger on a daily basis, because here's the thing, like I can leave at the right time. I can like be completely prepared. I can have a worship music, playing it in my car. Like I can do all of the freaking right things, but there will still be like terrible drivers and I'll still be sitting in traffic, and I will still like have to wrestle with the tension that I feel in those moments where I'm just sitting there struggling to be patient. And so something that I've been processing is even though I can do all of the right things to set myself up for success on my morning commute, the fact of the matter is sometimes, God has a different outcome than I do for that morning drive. And so I have been working on surrendering my idea of what that outcome should be and leaning into whatever God wants to say to me and how he wants to shape me and form me to look more like Jesus, even through something as frustrating as my morning drive.

James Meehan: Come on, if you, as you're watching this video or somebody who drives and you experience some of that same frustration as Kaitlin, just so that she doesn't feel alone, can you just comment down below me, me too, I'm with you, I understand, to let her know that she is not alone. You know, one of the things that I think is really interesting about that example that you gave Kaitlin that to me is I think what has been the biggest takeaway for me is the idea that everything that Jesus is trying to do in the sermon on the Mount is beneath the surface. It's never just meant to be restricted to the external behaviors, but it's always meant to produce a change in the internal condition of our heart. And I think that's the thing that is so beautiful, but also so challenging, because you know, the portion of the sermon on the Mount you're talking about is found in Matthew 6, where Jesus lists off a number of different things that are good spiritual practices, but he talks about how not only is doing those things important, but the reason why you do them matters, it's not just so that you can be seen by others, so that they think you're awesome, but it is so that you can become the kind of person who truly loves God with every part of who they are and who can love others the same way that you would want to be loved. And this is the thing that honestly for me, can also be really challenging because I'm the kind of person where I want to know, what do I need to do to be successful, right? Give me that list of steps, and then I will do that list of steps. But I think what I'm also discovering, it sounds like a similar to you is that even if I do those right things, it doesn't always mean that I will achieve success in the way that the rest of the world defines it, or even sometimes the way that I define it, because what I would hope would be the outcome is maybe that if I do these things, then I'm gonna have a great day at work. Or if I do these things for my wife then she's gonna know and feel that I love her, or if I spend time every day in God's word, then the faith that I have will be strengthened, and there won't be any doubts or questions or frustrations that come my way. Or if I continue to do life in community with other people, that's gonna shape me and strengthen me so that I can become more like Jesus, I'm gonna be less impatient and frustrated with people who are really, really frustrating. And yet what I find is that there are still so many times where I'm in a situation where the thing that I thought I prevented because of what I had done still arises. I think it's a lot of what you're talking about with the driving analogy, where I can be in a conversation with somebody where I'm like, Ally, I shouldn't be getting this frustrated. Like I'm spending time in God's word. I'm praying for this person. I'm having other people hold me accountable, and yet this person still drives me crazy. That's what I think is so powerful about what Jesus is doing through the sermon on the Mount is he's showing us how these external practices are meant to change our internal character, how the law, this beautiful in good thing given by God is meant to be a set of instructions designed to help us better understand who we're meant to become. And I think that's the part that can be really difficult because all of the internal character work that God wants to do in us is not something that can be like a measured or seen, right? It's not something that we can just say, "Okay, cool, like I went to the gym and I performed, you know, 10 reps on this exercise, therefore I must be getting stronger, right"? Every week I can add five pounds to my squat max or whatever analogy works for you. But the internal transformation that we experience as kingdom people, people led by Jesus, shaped by grace and moved by love, can't be measured as nearly as easily as the other things. And I think that's where it almost requires us to develop patience while we're developing these other character qualities, and that is anything but comfortable and easy for me. And so, as I'm saying, all of these things, Kaitlin, it kinda sounds like we're on a similar track of what God's trying to work in us. What other thoughts do you have? What are the things along this journey have been helpful for you as you're sort of wrestling through what it looks like to maybe trust that God's outcome is actually better than what we would want to have happen?

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Yeah, I think one of the big things is embracing the discomfort of the fact that following Jesus isn't a formula it's formation.

James Meehan: Oh come on, okay, say that again, 'cause that was good. If y'all aren't paying attention, start paying attention 'cause that was money.

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Is following Jesus isn't a formula, it's formation, it's like in something that I think that really the sermon on the Mount has produced a lot more of in me is humility. And I think that a beautiful part of humility that sometimes we miss, because maybe we like misdefine it is curiosity. Like I think humility and curiosity are like inextricably tied to each other, because when I'm like postured humbly, I start asking better questions and I have like my attention fixed on Jesus on what he might be trying to do in me and not the outcome that I want, like we were just talking about, but how he's trying to form and shape me. And so again, I think one of the bigger things and themes for me throughout the sermon on the Mount is that Jesus is not laying out a formula for us to follow, to suddenly become, you know, kingdom people or get the outcome that we want, the sermon on the Mount isn't a formula, it's allowing Jesus to form us.

James Meehan: Come on, that got be good, I think the thing that's so good about you stating that is the formulas are easy to follow, right? Because it's literally like, step one, two, three, four, and then here you go. Here's the outcome you look for, like a formula is like when you're in math class, you know that if you follow the order of operations and you do it properly, you will arrive at the answer you were looking for. That's how you solve the equation is you follow the formula. If I am in my kitchen trying to cook a great meal, and I've got this cookbook in front of me, if I follow the formula, the recipe and I do all of these steps, then the outcome is guaranteed. But this is the thing that I think is so important to grapple with about the life of faith that we've been invited into is that relationships are never as simple and clean as formulas, they always involve people. And in our relationship of following Jesus, what we're gonna experience sometimes are surprises, things that aren't what we expected, and it's oftentimes in those beautiful surprises that God shows up in ways that we never would have asked for, or even imagined in the first place. And it's in those places where our expectations are not met, that God actually has the opportunity to exceed them. And I think the thing that's so powerful about what Jesus does all throughout the sermon on the Mount is he takes the expectations of his audience, and he continues to subvert those expectations and show them something even more beautiful because in the sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not lower the standard of righteousness that God invites his people to. As a matter of fact, he raises it, here's what he does over and over again to say, Hey, you've heard that it was said, don't murder, don't be angry, don't lust, don't commit adultery. You've heard all of those things, but here's what I'm telling you. Don't even allow yourself to say something negative about someone else, don't even allow yourself to look lustfully at someone else, don't even allow yourself to get to that point because Jesus, isn't just concerned with the things that we do, that does matter, but that's not all that matters. He's just as concerned with the things that are in our heart, with who we really are. And I think that's the thing where the journey of being formed by Jesus, being shaped by his grace is not this easy journey of A, B, C, D, E, F, G. It's more like I take a few steps forward and then a couple of steps back because as I progress in this journey, I start to discover more and more just how far off I am to the standard of righteousness that God is calling me to. Beautiful thing is, is that Jesus never holds that against us. Or he never tries to shame us with our sinfulness. Instead, what he does is he says, "Hey, I'm inviting you with arms open wide to take a step of faith, to trust in me and pursue this life of holiness. This life defined by love for God and love for others that will change everything about you, change your present, it will change your future and other people get to experience the joy that I've come to offer when you trust me and put your faith into action". The way that I've sort of imagined this in my mind is sort of like at a circus where you've got trapeze artists, you know what I'm talking about, you're like standing on these platforms at a top of the circus tent and order for a trapeze artist to actually do what they're supposed to do, they have to leave the safety of the platform, jump out, grab onto this trapeze and swing across the circus to the other side, where they're then like letting go and getting caught by their friend before they can make it, all those different things. I think that that is sort of what the life of faith is supposed to be like. Jesus is inviting us to take the leap, to jump off of the platform and onto this trapeze that is called discipleship. But for so many of us, we're so afraid to actually take the jump that we just hold on to the wooden pole, that the platform is built around because we don't want to fall, but in the sermon on the Mount, what Jesus does is he begins the entire thing with blessing, with grace, that's what the beatitudes are. It's these blessings that Jesus is saying, "Hey, in the kingdom of God, this is who's blessed". Not because of what they've done, but because of the way that God sees them. And then what Jesus is doing here is he's saying, "Hey, I'm inviting you to take this leap, and it is a difficult leap, but even if you fall and you will be caught by the safety net of grace, the safety net of blessing". And I think that's the thing that's been so revolutionary for me as I've been studying the sermon on the Mount is recognizing that yes, the standard that Jesus invites us to is really, really high, and it is almost impossible to reach, but Jesus understands that, and he's not asking us to never get something wrong, he's inviting us into the adventure of doing something that we can't do on our own, but through the power of his spirit, we can experience the joy of leaving the safety of the platform behind and being called into this new way of living that is basically like jumping onto a trapeze and holding on for dear life.

Yeah, I am hearing that, and the thing that's super sticking out to me, throughout the sermon on the Mount, Jesus is inviting us to release our expectations and trust his goodness and his blessing and his grace. And that brings two other Jesus examples to my mind.

I love these examples.

He like just kind of like skirts around someone's expectations and invites them into something better. And one of them is when that Jewish expert in the law comes to Jesus and says, "Hey, what's the greatest commandment"? And Jesus says, "Love God with everything or love your neighbor as yourself". These are the two greatest commandments. And it's obvious that the guy, that's what he expected Jesus to say. He's like, "Okay, cool, cool, cool. But who's my neighbor? If I'm supposed to love my neighbor as myself, who's my neighbor"? And then Jesus does this like right around his expectation of what the answer is gonna be. And he tells the story of the good Samaritan, and just completely wrecks this guy's expectations for what Jesus's response was gonna be and what he was going to be able to do with that response. Because it says like in like, as the story's being set up, this guy really like his heart behind the question was to justify himself. And so Jesus is like, all right, cool, we're just gonna go right around here. We're gonna tell this story. And it's going to invite you not to just continue to justify yourself by doing these good things. It's going to invite you to become a good neighbor to the people that you don't think that are included in that description.

Well, and I think that's the thing that's so intriguing about the way Jesus taught, whether in the sermon on the Mount or Luke 10, with the parable, the good Samaritan, what he's doing is he's forcing us to move past having the right answers and actually step into, becoming the kind of person whose life, whose actions are in alignment with those answers. Like that's what integrity is all about. Being fully integrated, being a whole person where there's no distinction between what we say we believe and how we actually live. And if what we say we believe is one thing, but how we live is another thing entirely, then what we're doing is we're falling into the same trap that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law fell into, where they were hypocrites, where they were putting on a show. But what Jesus is inviting us to do is not simply put on a show on the outside, but allow the grace of God to transform us on the inside. And this is one of the things that I think is so fascinating about Jesus is there was no separation between what he taught and who he was, right? Because he was the fullness of grace and truth in human form, like he was literally God in human form. And so when Jesus is teaching about the good life, he is also perfectly exemplifying the good life and he's invited us to do the same. And then at the very end of the sermon on the Mount, after three chapters of spiritual haymaker, after spiritual haymaker, we're told that the crowds of people who heard Jesus's teachings were amazed because Jesus spoke as one who had authority, which is the thing that I think can be easy to overlook is that in our modern world, we often assume that people with authority have authority because either they have a really high position or they've built a large platform, or for whatever reason, they've got a lot of power. And so it's like, all right, position, platform, power, that's what gives people authority. But at this point in Jesus's ministry, he had done some really special things, right? He's healed the sick, he's cast out demons, he's been preaching this powerful truth, but he is still really early on in his ministry. And if you were to compare his position, his power and his platform to Caesar, Jesus's would have been like almost nothing, and yet the people were still amazed because he spoke as one who had authority, where does his authority come from? I would argue that Jesus's authority was born from his integrity because this idea of Jesus preaching one thing and living the exact same thing, caused people to hear what he said in a very different way than how they would hear the religious leaders and the Pharisees, because they said one thing and did another, but Jesus said one thing and he did the very same thing. And this is what he wants to form us into people who don't just know the right answers, but actually take the right actions, so that every part of who we are can point to the goodness, the grace and the glory of God, because we don't get there being fully integrated, being people of integrity just by our own efforts. It also requires the work of God's spirit. This is why as kingdom people, we talk about how we want to be led by Jesus, and we want to be shaped by grace because it literally requires supernatural power to transform us from the inside out so that we can look, we can live and we can love like Jesus does.

Yeah, that's so good. As we are, I think what we see throughout the sermon on the Mount is as we are being formed into kingdom people, into people who are led by Jesus and shaped by grace, that next step is that we're moved by love. In other words, the like internal formation that Jesus is doing inside of us is meant to be outwardly expressed in the way that we love, treat, care about other people. So my question is how, like through the past eight weeks, how has your posture or attitude towards others been changing? Like what are some of the ways that you've noticed that for you?

Yeah, I think one of the things that really started in me was changing the way that I approach relationships. And this was based on what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-12 the section of, hey don't judge, and then ends with do for others, what you would want done for you. And I was thinking about this the other day. And a lot of this kind of was spawned by this journey where I heard the week three of our weekend message series, no offense from our senior pastor Craig Rochelle. It was absolutely phenomenal. And as he's teaching this thought kinda came into my mind about the different posture that the holy spirit takes that is very different than the Satan, the accuser, the devil, the great enemy of God. And so when we think about the holy spirit, Jesus tells us that the holy spirit is our advocate. And then Satan is a Hebrew word that means accuser. What was so mind boggling to me as I'm hearing our senior pastor teach this message, as I'm reflecting on some of the things that I've heard other people say about the holy spirit, I'm sitting there thinking, my gosh, how often do I engage in relationships with other people more like the accuser than I do like the advocate? And that was incredibly humbling to me, where it's like, okay, I probably don't need to collaborate with the accuser instead, I probably need to partner with the advocate because if it is the holy spirit, the spirit of God that's living in me, then that should be what is expressed through me. And so it really just changed my mindset in a way of, okay, like this is just one more push on the flywheel. This is just kind of like one more piece of the puzzle, all reinforcing the same idea. That the way that Jesus invites people to change is not by shaming them or threatening them or trying to manipulate them, but it is a loving, unconditional gracious invitation. And I think that's the thing I'm okay and cool with. I am being worked on by the spirit of God slowly over time, where he's taking the little bits and pieces of me that are not honoring to him, he's replacing those with truths and practices that are consistent with who he's called me to be. Then I want to have that same approach with other people. I wanna be the advocate. I want to speak life over them to encourage them to cultivate the kind of character that looks like Jesus, instead of being so focused on the things that they do wrong, that instead of actually building them up, I just beat them down. And so that was the thing for me, where I was like, okay, that's good. I really wanna be more like the holy spirit than like the great enemy, the devil. How can I take the role or how can I step into the role of the advocate in my relationships and not just the accuser?

Yeah, what does that practically look like for you?

Yeah, that's a great question. Honestly, I think practically for me, it just looks like going back to the question, how would I want to be loved if I were this person, but I want to be loved if I were this other person? And that question seems so basic 'cause it is. I think it's because it's so basic that we don't often take the time to actually ask it and then answer it and then put it into action. I really think that if I were to summarize the biggest action step for me out of this entire series that we've been going through, it is trying to get better at making that the default question that I ask, I want it to be so ingrained in my mind that any time I'm interacting with another person, that that's the question that I asked first. If I were this other person, how would I want to be loved? Great, I think I know what that answer is. Let me go do those things. Or sometimes it might even look like if I were this person, how would I want to be loved? You know what I don't know, but if somebody didn't know, they'd probably, I'd probably want them to ask. So, maybe I'll just ask them, like what you love you like to you, and then how can I meet you with that? And so I think that's the thing for me, is going back to that super basic question, the golden rule that all of us learn in preschool. I don't know when or if any of us ever actually make that a default part of who we are. That's exactly what Jesus wants us to do, because if we're truly people led by him, shaped by grace and moved by love, then I think that that will become a default question that shapes the way that we interact with others. And I fully recognize that that has not been the default question for me and I want it to be. And so that's kind of what this journey has looked like for me is trying to figure out how to make that question the default one.

That is so good. And what stands out to me about that is the fact that I think that we so often unfortunately shy away from simplicity because we are like, ah, if it's spiritual, it's gotta be super complicated and deep all the time. But some of the most profound truths are literally the most simple. And that's, I mean, we'd say this a bunch, it's kind of cliche, but that is why Jesus, one of the reasons why Jesus says like the kingdom of heaven belongs to children, belongs to those with a childlike faith, 'cause really it's not that complicated. And I love what you said as well about, Hey, when I don't know the answer to the question of, you know, how would I want to be loved, what if I just asked and actually listened to their answer and then like did what I could to meet that need. And I think that that goes back to what I was saying towards the beginning about what God is inviting me to with humility and curiosity. And sometimes I just have to ask the question with a genuine posture of curiosity, like I truly wanna know what is the thing that would be most loving to you in this situation? And I think that that is exactly what God is doing in me to help me posture my heart towards being moved by love is leading with questions and curiosity, instead of assuming that I know the answer.

And that my friends is true humility. That is so good. So hopefully you also had some great encounters with God throughout this series where he was revealing to you truths about who he really is about who you really are and about how you've been called to live as kingdom people. And so we would love to hear what those revelations and new understandings were, so please take some time to comment down below, what were some of the biggest takeaways that you had? What has God been showing you? Because we'd love to continue to engage in this conversation with you as we are going on this journey of becoming kingdom people together. And if you've got thoughts, suggestions, or questions for future videos, make sure you comment those down below because we love being in dialogue with you. With all that being said, make sure to like comment, subscribe, and we'll see you soon, see you.

See you guys.
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