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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Three Reasons "Be True to Yourself" is Terrible Advice

James Meehan - Three Reasons "Be True to Yourself" is Terrible Advice

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    James Meehan - Three Reasons "Be True to Yourself" is Terrible Advice

Well, hello and welcome to Switch. To kick things off tonight, we're going to play a little game of fill in the blank. It's pretty self explanatory. There's gonna be some words on screen with a blank and it is your job to fill in the blank. That's why it's called fill in the blank, with the proper words. So if you know it, when I arrive at the blank, shout it out. Or if that's a little bit too loud and obnoxious, you could just whisper it to your neighbor, either way is okay with us. So if you are ready, at all of our locations, tell me I'm ready. Perfect, we are getting started with the first fill in the blank. Be true to. The correct answer is be true to yourself.

If you got it, clap on the back, high five, your friend, that's one point for you or zero, if you didn't get it blank. Number two, this one might be a little bit tricky. So blank number two, do what makes you happy? Yes, do what makes you happy? And then the third and final blank of our game, you've got to follow your heart, ladies and gentlemen be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy and follow your heart. What's interesting about these three phrases is that they've kind of become like the motto of the modern world. It's like the key theme in every Disney movie for the last 20 years. It is the message behind so many of our favorite songs on Spotify. Maybe even right now, one of those phrases is actually the quote on the lock screen of your iPhone. Here's the problem though. All three of those phrases are absolutely terrible advice. None of those are actually going to help you achieve the life that you want, but they sound really good.

And so we keep saying them and sharing them and hearing them and feeling real giddy on the inside, but it's not actually leading us to where we want to go in our lives. And that's what we're gonna talk about today. Why those are terrible ways to live and how there's actually a better way, if we're willing to say yes and to listen. Before we go any further, it's only appropriate that I now introduce myself. My name is James Mehan and I'm a part of the Switch team here at Life Church. I am married to my amazing wife, Mandy. She is the love of my life, the apple of my eye and the honey in my tea. And we have a one and a half year old son named Jace. He's actually named after me, because I'm James the third, he's James the fourth. I wanted him to be called cuatro. My wife preferred Jace. So he is Jace.

And if you are new to Switch, I just want you to know what we're all about. We are a movement of students from across the country that are committed to loving God, loving others and making a difference. And whether you today are a committed Christian, you're just kind of a Christian, or you're not at all a Christian, I want you to know that Switch is a place that you can belong. And even though we're gonna talk about Jesus and what he had to say about life, about truth and about goodness, even if you don't believe that he is who he said he was, my hope is that through being a part of Switch, you would discover the wisdom found in his teachings and that you would actually be open to the fact that maybe what he had to say 2000 years ago, could really be good news for your life today.

So with all that being said, I wanna prove to you why being true to yourself is terrible advice. And to do it, we're gonna talk about marshmallows. We're gonna talk about sex and we're gonna talk about growing up. So three reasons being true to yourself is terrible advice. If you are taking notes, you'll wanna write this down. Reason, number one is because different parts of us want different things. Different parts of us want different things. There is a famous psychology test known as the Marshmallow Experiment where this group of researchers took a bunch of preschoolers four and five year old, stuck. 'em in an empty room with a single marshmallow on a plate. And they told these preschoolers, if you wait 15 minutes without eating this marshmallow when we come back, we'll bring you a second marshmallow. But if you just decide to eat it now or before we return, then that's all you get, one marshmallow.

So as you can imagine, the majority of these preschoolers did not have the self control to wait the 15 minutes. And so they went home having only eaten one marshmallow. And before you judge them too harshly, here's the deal, like a preschooler in an empty room for 15 minutes told not to eat a marshmallow, would be like taking you, a high schooler, putting you in an empty room with your iPhone and saying you can't touch it for two hours. This would be really challenging for a preschooler. The whole point of this experiment was to measure these young people's ability to delay gratification. That's psychology speak for saying no to what they want now, so they could say yes to what they want even more later. Most of us just call this discipline. The reason why this is so important though, for us to wrap our minds around is because just like those preschoolers, all of us are gonna find ourselves in situations where we have a choice to make.

Do I say yes to one marshmallow right now? Or do I say no to it, so I can say yes to two marshmallows later, right? Do I say yes to going to bed on time, so I can wake up tomorrow full of energy and rested for the big test? Or do I say yes to scrolling TikTok until four o'clock in the morning, knowing that that's gonna mean I'm gonna wake up tomorrow, past my bedtime, late for school, rushed and not at all immensely prepared for the test that is going to determine my grade this year. It's our ability to say no to what we want now. So we can say yes to what we want most. Delayed gratification or discipline. And the reason why they're studying this is because almost everybody agrees, that our ability to say no to things in the moment, so we can say yes to better things in the future has a huge impact on the overall wellbeing of our lives.

And this is why being true to ourselves can be challenging because in those scenarios, what part of ourselves are we supposed to be true to? Right, like the part that once this marshmallow right now or the part that wants another marshmallow later? That's why being true to yourself by itself, stand alone as advice, is really incomplete. That's the first reason why it's probably not the best way to live. The second reason is because our strongest desires are very rarely, our deepest desires. Our strongest desires are rarely our deepest desires. So for example, imagine you are scrolling through Instagram and you see that picture of a really attractive person.

Now you have a choice to make. Do you act on the really strong desires that are urging you to objectify them and see them as nothing more than an object to drool over? Or do you listen to the deepest and truest parts of you that want to honor that person as a human being with dignity made in the image of God or maybe you're alone late at night with your boyfriend or girlfriend and things are getting a little bit heated. You find yourself getting close to crossing a line and all of a sudden you've got these desires in you that are saying go all the way, cross the line. It's gonna feel so good. Is that really what you want most? For you or for them? Or is the thing that you want most to honor them by not putting them in a situation where their desires in the moment might lead them to make a decision that they will later regret.

This is what's so challenging about being human, about being a teenager, is that you've got these different parts of you that want different things. This tug of war that's happening. And oftentimes the desires that feel the strongest and yell the loudest are not the desires that are the deepest and truest parts of us. Because the deepest and truest parts of you are the fact that you have been made in the image of God, that you are loved by your creator. This is why being true to yourself by itself is really bad advice, because different parts of us want different things. And our strongest desires are very rarely our deepest desires.

The third reason is because the life that we want to live in the future, doesn't actually come from staying who we are. It comes from going into who we are meant to be. The life we want doesn't come from staying who we are. It comes from growing into who we are meant to be. My son, Jace, you got to see a picture of him earlier is a year and a half old. And what he really wants to do right now is run naked and free to pee and poop wherever he pleases, to never wear a diaper a day in his life. And as his parent, I could say, hey son just be true to yourself. And that would be a terrible way to parent because my job is to come alongside my son and to help him learn and grow and mature, so that he can be a functioning member of society.

When I was in high school and middle school, I didn't want anything to do with faith or Jesus or church. I was pretty convinced that it was all a fairytale made up so that other people could feel better about themselves. And my mom easily could have said, "Hey, just be true to yourself. Just keep doing whatever you want. Who cares about the church thing". But instead she told me, "Hey, if you're gonna live in my house, you're gonna go to church". And so week in and week out, I went to church because that was cheaper than finding somewhere else to live and paying rent. And week after week, I was exposed to people who genuinely loved me and really loved God. And that started to change everything, to the point where now, nine years later, I can tell you that my life is radically different because my mom didn't just settle to help me be true to myself.

She asked me, encouraged me and challenged me, to grow up, to mature, to become who I'm meant to be. And for some of you just to put it bluntly, the worst thing you could do is stay who you are. You are 12, right? You need to grow up and mature and become more of the person that you are created to be, the person that you actually want to be. But that doesn't come from staying who you are. It comes from growing and changing and developing as a human being. This is why, if you were to ask me, I would tell you, that being true to yourself is terrible advice. So what do we do instead? Well, thankfully, the wisest person and the greatest teacher who ever lived, a man named Jesus, has much better advice for us.

In Luke chapter nine, Jesus says this. He says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple". That's another word for follower. "Must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me, deny themselves, not be true to themselves". Take up their cross daily, not do what makes them happy and follow me, not follow their hearts, but why is it that Jesus said this? Well, the next line is the answer in Luke 9:24. Jesus says, "That whoever wants to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for me will save it".

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Did you catch that? Jesus is telling us that if we try to save ourselves on our own, what we're gonna end up doing is actually losing our lives in the process. That in order to actually achieve life and life to the full, a life that is meaningful and rich, that doesn't come from doing it our own way. It comes from following him. And that starts with denying ourselves. Saying no, to what we want now, so that we can say yes to following him and serving others.

So if you are taking notes, this is the big idea of this message. That the way of Jesus that he offers is a way that begins with denying yourself. Because following Jesus, isn't about being true to yourself. It's about denying yourself, so that you can follow him and serve others. This is what it's all about. It's not about you. And it's not about me. It's about him. And it's about the lives of other people. This is how we live a life that truly matters. This is how we find the life that all of us are craving for on the inside. Choosing to give up our own way, to take up his way and to live a life for the sake of others.

Now, you might be hearing this and think, okay, cool. That sounds nice, but why should I actually do that? Why should I actually make that a part of my life? And I would offer you two reasons, whether you're a Christian or not, because the truth is what so many of us want a disciplined life and loving relationships, can't happen without self denial. Another way to say it is that self denial is an essential ingredient for building a disciplined life and loving relationships. Earlier, we talked about delayed gratification and discipline. It's saying no to what we want now, so we can say yes to what we want most. You cannot choose what you want most, if you're only ever saying yes to what you want now, because if you take the first marshmallow you may not get the second marshmallow.

In addition to that, what we all want is loving and meaningful relationships, but real love is not trying to get something from someone else. It is sacrificing yourself for the good of another. It's denying yourself for the good of another person. So in these few words, what Jesus is doing is showing us the key to a disciplined life and loving relationships. Two things that most would agree are actually really important in achieving lives that matter. That mean more than just the temporary every day chasing after what feels good in the moment. So what I wanna do here is just offer you some suggestions on how you can actually do that. Because the idea of denying yourself in a world that's motto is be true to yourself is not something that will come easily. It will take work and it'll take effort. So here are three suggestions on how to actually do it. Suggestion number one is decide what you really want most, but you can't say yes to what you want most, if you don't even know what it is.

So start by deciding what you really want most. Second thing is practice saying no to what you want now. Practice saying no to what you want now. If you are a follower of Jesus, one of the ways that we do this is through the spiritual disciplines of fasting and abstinence. Fasting is giving up food. Abstinence is giving up something else. And both of these are habits that Jesus modeled, that train us to say no to our selfish desires, by practicing saying no to other desires. And I would love to invite you to join me for the next two weeks in practicing these disciplines, in making these habits of Jesus, your habits. If you are interested in that, then we've got a Bible plan called, Becoming Like Jesus, fasting and abstinence. That would be a really great resource, that's gonna walk you through it. Step-by-step for two weeks on how you can make those disciplines a part of your life. Suggestion number three would be to find people who can help, find people who can help. Because when you're discipline runs out and it will run out, they will be there to help you carry the weight.

Now shameless plug. I think the best place that you can find people to help is right here at Switch. This is why we do Switch groups, to help you find friends and a mentor that will be with you every step of the way, a group of people who want the best for you and are committed to bringing the best out of you. But here's the thing that I'm really grateful for is that because of Jesus, these things that we've talked about, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following him, isn't just good advice. It's actually really good news because before we ever do any of this for him, he's already done it for us. Back to that scripture we read earlier, Luke chapter 9:23, "Jesus says to them all, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me, because whoever wants to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for me will save it.'"

Jesus found himself at a point where everything in him wanted to say no to the plan that God had for his life. But he said, yes, he denied himself because he knew that if he held onto his comfort and his safety, then he would never go to the cross for you and for me. Not only that, but he carried a literal wooden cross on his back to a hill called Calvary until eventually that cross carried him. And on that cross, he laid down his life for us, so that we could be saved through forgiveness of our sins. This is what the gospel is. It's the good news that because of Jesus, our relationship with God can be repaired, that our sins can be forgiven and that we could be a part of God's good plans to restore the world. All of that is really good news. And it's something that every one of us has been invited into. And the way that we say yes to that invitation is we do what Jesus said. We deny ourselves, we take up our cross and we follow him. Will you pray with me?

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that we get to be a part of this movement that your son Jesus started 2000 years ago. I pray for every student that's listening to this message, that you give them the wisdom and the courage to say yes to you, that you would help them put into practice disciplines and habits that will train them to say no to what they want now. So they can say yes to what they want most and that God you would surround them with others that will help carry the weight when they're starting to get worn out. And for all this in Jesus' name, amen.

Still in an attitude of prayer. There are some of you right now who you're hearing about this Jesus, you're hearing about what it looks like to live a meaningful life, a life with discipline and loving relationships and all that sounds good, but it sounds a little bit too good to be true. The thing about the gospel is that it's not just good advice. It's not just about what we could do or we should do. It's the good news, because it's about what God has done in Jesus. Because the truth is, is that all of us as human beings, we've sinned. We've fallen short of God's standard. And that sin in us creates a separation. It fractures our relationship with our creator, but God loves us so much that 2000 years ago, he entered the world as a person named Jesus. He lived a perfect life. He died a brutal death on the cross, as the sacrifice for your sins and for mine. So that anybody who puts their trust in him could be forgiven. But that's not where the story ends.

You see Jesus on the third day, rose from the dead, proving that he is who he said, he was the true ruler of creation. And he has invited all of us into his family. And it's something that we enter into through putting our trust in him, committing our lives to him. And maybe that's why you're here today, to begin a relationship with Jesus, to make a decision that will change everything for the better. If that is you, and you wanna begin a relationship with him, you wanna put your trust in Jesus. Then wherever you are, lift your hands right now, all over the place.

If you're online, type it in the chat, say, "Jesus, I give you my life". And if you are making that choice, I need you to know that is the best decision you could ever make. Because in that moment you become a new person, no longer defined by the sin of your past, but now you are defined by God's love for you. And as you're making that choice, at all of our locations, online, we wanna invite you to pray this prayer out loud with us. Because even though you made that choice on your own, here at Switch we're a family and you do not have to pray alone. So repeat after me all together:

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning toward you. I need your grace. I need your mercy. I need your love, in Jesus' name. Amen and amen and amen.

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