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James Meehan - Jesus' Answer to What Matters Most

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    James Meehan - Jesus' Answer to What Matters Most

Welcome to the final week of our series, Learning the Jesus Way of Life, where for the last two months we have been walking through the Gospels, going on a journey to discover what following Jesus is really about. And on this journey, we've looked at different stories of the things that Jesus did, the places that he went, the things that he said, and the way that he loved to help us become the kind of people who actually follow Jesus, to resist the temptation to simply admire him from a distance, but to actually get close enough to know him, close enough to experience his love and close enough to be transformed into the kind of people who actually go where he goes, do what he does, trust what he says, and love how he loves.

As we close out this series, we are going to look at one question, one scripture, and one application all centered around helping us answer what really matters most. We're gonna look at Jesus' answer in just a minute, but before we get to his, we're actually gonna start with our own answer to that question, because all of us have something that we would consider as most important. Now, if you're not really sure what that thing is, probably the best thing to do is look at where you spend your time, your money, and your energy, because the thing that matters most to you is likely the thing that gets the majority of your time, your money, and your energy. So some of you, you spend the vast majority of your time playing video games or on social media.

Like it's gotten to the point where you are absolutely incredible at Xbox and you have these dreams and aspirations to be a professional video game streamer, and you might actually be good enough to do it, which is really, really cool. But is that really the legacy you want to leave? Or maybe for you, the thing that you spend the majority of your time on is your social media app of choice. Like you just find yourself lost in TikTok video after TikTok video after TikTok video, and then at two o'clock in the morning, as you know it's time to go to sleep, your phone is whispering to you, "Just one more," and no matter how hard you try, you cannot resist the temptation. Maybe the thing that matters most to you isn't what you spend the most time on, but what you spend the most money on, like you are really passionate about music.

This is a gift that you have. It is a talent that you have dedicated hours to, but not just hours, also money, because you spent your last couple of paychecks combined on that new instrument so that you can truly play at your best. Or maybe all of your money goes into souping up your car to the point where now you are ready, if they call, to have your car in the next "Fast and the Furious" movie. Or maybe for you, it's the thing that you put most of your energy toward. It could be a romantic relationship with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, like your entire life is that relationship and that person. Every free minute you've got is going to the other person because you really think that your relationship can go the distance. Or maybe it's your schoolwork because your dream is to get into a great college so you can have a great job and set yourself up for future financial success.

All of us have something that we would say is most important, and what that something is is usually revealed by where we spend the majority of our time, our money, or our energy. When I was in high school, absolutely the two most important things, nothing else even came close, were playing video games and training jujitsu. Every day I would wake up in the morning thinking about gaming and jujitsu. I would go to school, do all of my classwork, try as much as I could to get my homework done in class so that by the time I got home, I could jump on Xbox with my friends, play for a couple hours before jujitsu practice that night, go to jujitsu, train for a few hours, come home, take a shower, eat food, play video games, go to bed, and repeat and repeat and repeat.

It literally got so bad that my sophomore year of high school, I got really sick. I had mono and pneumonia at the same time. I was dating a girl at that point in my life, and because of how sick I was, I didn't talk to her for like two weeks, but I think it only took me like two days to start playing Xbox with my friends again. And so literally my girlfriend found out that I was too sick to text her, or so I said, but not too sick to play Call of Duty with my buddies until, you know, way past midnight. Needless to say, that relationship ended very soon after that, because, well, I would have said that relationship was somewhat important to me. The things that really mattered most to me then were video games and jujitsu.

So what matters most to you? And don't just tell me what you think I want to hear, because I probably don't want to hear some fake answer. Tell me what really matters most to you. Where do you spend your time, your money, and your energy? Now, this is where things are gonna get a little bit spicy because I'm going to say something that will probably offend you, that the thing that you spend the majority of your time, money, and energy on is probably not actually that important in the long run. It might be a good thing. Don't get me wrong, it could be a good thing, but it is almost certainly not the best thing. It's actually a cliche at this point where people get to the end of their lives, looking back on the years they spent on this earth, reflecting how they spent their time, their money, and their energy, and they are full of regret because they know that they didn't spend it on what matters most.

And we hear stories about this all the time, this wisdom that is being passed down to us from people who came before, and yet we ignore it. And then when we get to their stage of life, we end up telling the exact same story, that if I could go back, I would do it so different. Instead of chasing all of these things, I would invest my time into things that really matter. And as one of your pastors, I care way too much about you to watch you spend the rest of your teenage years and potentially the rest of your life chasing things that don't really matter in the end. So what do we do? How do we actually build lives centered on what matters most, not just to us, but in our lives, what really matters most in the end?

Well, if you've been following this series, the answer is probably obvious to you because we look to Jesus, because nobody lived a life more full of purpose, more intentional, more meaningful and impactful than Jesus did. Literally we are still talking about him 2,000 years ago because of the legacy he left, the wisdom that he taught, the example that he set has shaped generations. And so if you wanna learn how to live a life that really matters, if you wanna learn what it is that really matters, there's nowhere better to look than to Jesus. And so what we're gonna do is we're going to read about a time where Jesus was asked the question, what really matters most? And we're gonna look at what he had to say, and then we're gonna figure out how we can apply his wisdom to our lives.

So what we're gonna do is read a passage of scripture found in Matthew chapter 22, starting in verse 34. What we read is that Jesus had just silenced the Sadducees. This was a group of religious leaders. Then another group of religious leaders, the Pharisees got together. "One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question. 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'" Teacher, what really matters most when it comes to the Law that we're supposed to live by? And Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments".

What really matters most? Well, according to Jesus, the thing that really matters most is loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Now, it's important to recognize that to Jesus, these are not just empty words. He's not just saying the right answer because he's being tested. He is saying the real answer, the true answer, an answer that was reflected in everything he said and did throughout his life, because Jesus' life was aligned with his priorities. Everything he was about was about loving God and loving others. So what I wanna do is share three quick observations about this answer to help us grasp with the full meaning of what it is that Jesus is saying.

So the first thing that he said was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Here's what you've gotta understand. In the language of the Bible, love is so much more than strong affections or positive emotions. Love is a choice to sacrifice yourself for the good of another. So when Jesus is saying to love God with all your soul and mind, he's saying love God, devote your entire life to the good of your heavenly Father, that everything you say, everything you do, everything you think should be an act of worship for God, that the way you live should reflect the truth of this idea. This is why at the very beginning of this series, almost two months ago, we said that following Jesus is an all of life way of life, because God doesn't just want part of you, he wants all of you.

This is the first and greatest commandment. And then Jesus says, "The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself". Once again, this isn't just thinking nice things about other people. It's actually doing good for them. It's doing for others what you would want done for you. So if you were hungry and somebody else had some food to share, what would you want them to do? If you were lonely and you were really in need of a friend and there were some other people around, what would you hope they would do? If you did something really embarrassing that you just wish never happened at all and a whole bunch of other people saw it and they could make fun of you if they wanted to, what would you hope they did? Whatever it is that you would want them to do for you is exactly what Jesus is saying you should do for them. Love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the second one, and it is connected to the first. And then Jesus closes out this answer by saying this strange thing about all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. The Law and the Prophets is another way of describing the Old Testament. So that's the first two-thirds of our Bible. It's the 39 books that make up the Jewish scriptures. What Jesus is saying is that everything else that was written in the past was pointing to these two ideas. Every law, every word from the Prophets, all of it was meant to teach us how to really love God with all that we are, and to love others the way that we would want to be loved.

That's why in Switch, we regularly say that the Bible is a story that leads to Jesus and teaches us to become like Jesus, because all of it is pointing to this idea of loving God and loving others, an idea that Jesus embodied with every single breath he took. And if we are following him, then we should probably pay attention to what he says is most important. If we have a desire to live a life that matters and makes a difference, then we should probably pay attention to the dude who lived such a ridiculously influential life that we literally measure time based off of the day he was born. So those are three quick observations for you. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands all the Law and the Profits hang.

Now, one application, because that's a whole lot. So what do we do? The answer is become the kind of person who loves God with all they are and loves others the same way that Jesus loves you. This is what the Jesus way of life is all about, helping you become that kind of person, somebody who is totally devoted to loving God, somebody who is totally directed by your love for others, because that's the life that Jesus lived. Now, to actually do that is not easy, and so what I wanna do is walk you through a series of ideas and principles and questions that come from our pastor Craig Groeschel, his book, "The Power to Change," where he wrote this book, he did an entire message series that's all about how to actually change in a way that sticks, not just temporary but long-term changes. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna use those questions and principles to help us actually do that, to become the kind of person who loves God and loves others.

So if you are following along, make sure you've got your message guide with you because we're actually gonna use these questions as our conversation in Switch groups so that while I'm walking you through it and showing it to you, you can then be ready in your Switch group to work through it, to prayerfully and thoughtfully come up with these answers so that you can actually change to become the person that God has created you to be. So we're gonna start with the first one, who. Who do you want to become? This is the first question that you've gotta start with, because your view of you drives everything you do. So if you wanna change your life, start by changing your view. Who do you want to become? If you're a follower of Jesus, hopefully your answer is some version of the kind of person who loves God with all they are and loves others the same way that Jesus loves you.

That's the first one. The second one is why. Why do you want to become that kind of person? And this is so important, because when you actually know your why, you'll be able to figure out the how. It'll give you the motivation to keep moving forward when you start to feel discouraged. If I were to answer this question, I would tell you it's because there is nothing that matters more than becoming the kind of person who loves God and loves others, that that kind of life actually does make a difference. It changes you and it changes the people around you. Who, why, and then the second thing is start. What one habit do you need to start? The habits you have today will determine the life you live tomorrow.

So identify one habit that you can begin that will actually move you in the direction of the person you want to become. It doesn't have to be big and crazy and complicated. It can be simple, easy, and obvious. Maybe for you it's actually worshiping at church regularly. It could be talking to God. It could be reading your Bible. Maybe it's inviting your friends to Switch. Maybe it is actually obeying and respecting your parents. It doesn't have to be crazy. It can be small and easy and that will lead to a big change in the long term. The next thing is stop. What one habit do you need to stop? Because oftentimes the biggest things getting in the way of who we want to be are the negative things we're doing that are actually slowing us down. It's been said, if the devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy. And so maybe it's not a bad thing. It's just something that is distracting you from what matters most.

For most of us today, it's probably how much time we're on our phones, how much time we are on social media, how much time we're playing video games or watching Netflix. That eats up so much time that there's usually not very much left for what really matters. So who do you wanna become? Why do you want to become that kind of person? What one habit do you need to start? What one habit do you need to stop? And then finally, train. How are you going to do it? Our pastor has said that if you really want to experience change in your life, you gotta stop trying and start training. As followers of Jesus, we trust the Spirit to do what we cannot, and we train ourselves to do what we can.

So how are you actually going to do it? What is your plan? Create a plan. Find a schedule. Do something that's actually gonna help you do what you want to do, because good intentions will not change your life, but actually putting a plan in place with habits and practices are gonna move you closer to who you want to become, who God has made you to be, absolutely will. Because what really matters most? Often it's not the things that matter to us right now that we enjoy doing in the short term, but don't really have a lasting impact in the long term.

What really matters most according to Jesus is loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving others the same way that he has loved you. That kind of life, it changes things. That kind of life is the one where when you get to the end of it and you look back, instead of regret, you feel gratitude, because you actually lived a life centered on the things that really matter. So make that your mission, make it your goal to become the kind of person who loves God with all you are and loves others the same way that Jesus loves you. That kind of life is really, really good, but it's also true that the cost of following Jesus, the cost of becoming that kind of person is really high and it's really difficult, but the cost of not following him is even higher.

So what really matters most? According to Jesus, it's becoming the kind of person who loves God and loves others.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for the fact that you love us so much that you sent your Son Jesus to die for us, to invite us home to you so that we could know who we really are, because we know the one who made us. God, we love you so much, and we ask that today, you give us the faith to go where you're leading us, to trust the things that you're telling us, to be the kind of people who love others the way that you love us. Today, help us to follow your Son Jesus. It's in his name we pray. Amen.

Maybe for you as you're watching this message, you realize that your entire life, you've been spending your time, your money, and your energy on things that maybe seem important right now, but you're starting to realize that they're not what matters most in the long run and you're realizing that if things do not change, you're gonna wind up with a life full of regret. This is why the gospel is such good news, because when you commit your life to Jesus, when you let him change the direction and lead you where you need to go, instead of regret, you will find so much joy and peace and love so much that it absolutely overflows.

You see, as human beings, all of us were created for a relationship with God. But we've sinned. We've done things that hurt ourselves, that hurt others, that disobey God, and this sin actually created a separation between us and God. And so we're left wandering, we're left searching, we're left looking for what it is that we've lost. And oftentimes, we look in all of the wrong places. But because God is so good, he did not just leave us to look on our own. Instead, he sent Jesus to seek us out and bring us home. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the sinless Son of God. He is God in human form. He lived 2,000 years ago. He lived a real life. He lived a perfect life. He died a brutal death on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins so that anybody who puts their trust in him could be saved. But the reason why we tell the story of Jesus today isn't just that he died, but that he rose again. God raised him from the dead, proving that he is who he said he was, the Son of the living God, the Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world.

The thing that you've been searching for is only really found in Jesus, and he's inviting you to know him. He's inviting you to follow him, and when you do, everything changes. So if that is you and you've been searching for something, today's the day you find it. All you have to do is simply commit your life to Jesus, to turn from your sins and turn to him. Trust that he is who he said he was. If that is you and you wanna begin a relationship with him, all you've gotta do right now is just type down below, "Jesus, I give you my life. Jesus, I give you my life". As you make that decision, I need you to know that there is nothing more important than that, that he really is what matters most, and if you follow him, he will make you into the kind of person who loves God with everything you are and loves others the same way that he has loved you. And so as people are making that decision, what we're gonna do is pray together as a Switch family. So all together, out loud, repeat after me:

Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. I'm turning from my old life. I am turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today I commit to following you. In Jesus' name. Amen and amen and amen.

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