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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - The Reason You Shouldn't Do Life Alone

James Meehan - The Reason You Shouldn't Do Life Alone

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    James Meehan - The Reason You Shouldn't Do Life Alone

We are living in a time where there is an epidemic of loneliness. Like all around the country and the world, there are people who say that they feel lonely and isolated, more often than not. It has gotten so bad that the current U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, found out these statistics. He found that lacking social connection will shorten your lifespan the same amount as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It will increase the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%, and more than double your chances of suffering from anxiety and depression. His research echoes what God's word tells us at the very beginning in Genesis 2:18, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'"

Which is why as our nation's doctor, Dr. Vivek Murthy's primary goal, his primary focus to get Americans physically healthy, is to increase the amount of social connection they have in their lives. In other words, literally the nation's top doctor's primary focus to get people physically healthy is to help them build strong friendships. That's why if you're taking notes, the main point of this message is this: that your friendships have the power to make or break your future. Your friendships have the power to make or break your future. The right friends will make you better and you will make them better too. The wrong friends will break you down and lead you in the wrong direction.

What's really tragic though is how many of us settle for bad friendships because we would rather go in the wrong direction with people than move in the right direction alone. When I think back to all of my years in middle school and high school, like that was so much the case for me. I was desperate to find my people, to have a place to belong, to have friends who had my back. I remember my freshman year of high school, I went to a new school where I didn't know just about anybody there. And back then, I was much less loud and much less outgoing than I am now. So I was having a really hard time making friends. Until about six weeks into the school year, there was a dude who was saying some really disrespectful and inappropriate things about my older sister. So I told him, "If you say one more disrespectful and inappropriate thing about my sister, I'm going to punch you in the face".

This was before I knew Jesus and I didn't know how to deal with problems in a healthy way. So I just like fought people. Well, I say this, he took it as a challenge. So he looked me in the eyes and said something incredibly disrespectful about my sister. So being a man of my word, I socked that dude in the mouth. He started bleeding. He got all ticked off. He stormed off to the bathroom in a rage. And I was just like, that's it. Like I did what I said I was gonna do. We're done, he learned his lesson. Well, a few minutes later, he actually like attacks me from behind. Little did he know, I'd been training mixed martial arts for quite a while at this time. So I spun around, threw him to the ground, took his back, and ground and pounded him into submission until a security guard pulled me off of his back.

Again, this was before I knew Jesus. I am not saying you should do any of these things, but here's what happened. After that moment, my reputation at this new school was cemented as a fighter, and a whole bunch of people wanted to become friends with me because they knew I could fight. And so that's how I made friends at my high school. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that if the thing that attracted your friends to you is the fact that you beat somebody up, they're probably not gonna be the best for helping you become a wiser person or being kind and loving to others. But at the time, I didn't care about those things. The only thing I cared about was not being alone anymore.

Now, the problem with those friendships is that they were very surface level, like we never actually got real with each other. And that eventually caught up to me when my life started crumbling, and I didn't have anybody there to actually help me pick up the pieces and put things back together. That was until I started coming to Life.Church where I met a group of people who loved me in ways I never imagined before, even though at the time, I was not a Christian. I was only going to church because my parents made me. But while I was there, this group of believers surrounded me, loved me, and believed in me even though I didn't believe anything they did. And God used those people to change my life forever to the point where now I'm never going back because what I have today is so much better, because of the friends that God put in my life through being a part of His church.

Your friends have the power to make or break your future which is why we are beginning this semester of Switch with a series called Dangerously Influential. We're gonna learn together how to make friends and change the world because the beautiful thing about Jesus is that 2,000 years ago, He showed up in history introducing a new way to be human, a new way to interact, a new way to make and strengthen our friendships. And so in today's message, what we're gonna do is we're gonna talk about how to make friends. In the weeks to come, we're gonna learn how to strengthen those friendships, how to get vulnerable with each other, and how we can work together to change the world. Because Jesus is a pretty smart guy. And before He left, after everything He did on this earth, He left behind a solution to the problem of loneliness and social isolation.

I'm gonna read today from Acts 1 and as I read this passage of scripture, I want you to pay attention to the solution that Jesus left behind. Acts 1:12-15 tells us this. "Then the apostles," these are Jesus' followers, "returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alpheus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers". Verse 15 tells us, "In those days, Peter stood up among the believers, a group numbering about a hundred and twenty".

You see, when Jesus' time on earth was complete, this is what He left behind, a group of 120 believers huddled together in a room in the city of Jerusalem. The thing that He left behind after everything He said and did was a family, that started as a group of friends following Jesus together. Those 120 believers were the first church, friends committed to following Jesus and changing the world together. And God used those 120 believers to change the world, to flip the world upside down in the same way that Jesus flipped their lives upside down. And history has never been the same because of it. But before that group of friends became a family, they started as a group of 12 dudes following Jesus together.

And so before we learn how to become a family and go deep in our relationships, we've gotta start with learning how to make friends. So what we're gonna do is we're going to look at the life of Jesus to learn from Him how to make the right friends. Here's a question, who are your friends? Like who are the people in your life who have your back? Like do you have people? And do the people you have, are they actually the right people? Are they making you better? Or are they breaking you down? You see, the people that we surround ourselves with have a huge influence on who we become. The people that we spend the most time with are the people we most become like. This is why having the right friends is so important.

So we're gonna talk through five lessons that we can learn from Jesus in His approach to making friends. First, we're gonna look at John 1:43 where we read this. "The next day, Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.'" The first lesson for making the right friends is this: seek them out, don't freak them out. Seek them out, don't freak them out. Here's the really important thing that Jesus did not do. When He found Philip, He did not begin by saying, "Hey Philip, my name is Jesus. I'm the savior of the world sent by God to live, die, and rise again. And I want you to be one of my followers. And what's gonna happen is after I die, you're gonna continue to carry on the mission without me. You're gonna preach. You're gonna be persecuted. Eventually, you'll be killed. But don't worry, it'll all be with worth it because I'm with you every step of the way".

Like if Jesus started by telling him everything, you better believe Philip would've ran away right off the bat. And so if you try to make friends by telling them everything right off the bat, if you try to go from being strangers to BFFs, that's probably not gonna work super well. So maybe take the approach that Jesus did, like seek them out, but don't freak them out. Jesus simply invited Philip to follow Him. And so if you're trying to make the right friends, start by just getting to know them. Like go to the places the people you wanna be friends with are, and then introduce yourself to them. Tell them your name and begin asking them questions about their life. What do they like? Where do they go to school? How do they spend their free time?

And if you do that, what you'll see is you start to find the right friends without scaring them off right at the beginning, which actually takes us really nicely into point two because if you wanna make the right friends, the first thing to do is to seek them out, but don't freak them out. The second thing you wanna do is you wanna take it slow to let it grow. Take it slow to let it grow. Like we just talked about, Jesus didn't start by running all the way to Z. The alphabet begins at A, and then you move to B, and then to C, and then to D, and that's the approach that He took with His disciples. He spent three years investing time and energy and doing life with them because friendships, really great friendships, take time.

If you rush them, you just end up weakening them. Like think about an acorn. If you were to plant that into the ground, it would not become an oak tree overnight. It would take a whole lot of time for that seed to become a big, giant tree. Things that last, things that are quality often take time. Things that are cheap and break easily, they usually get made pretty quickly. So if you want strong friendships, then take it slow to let it grow. If you move down into Luke 6, we learned another really important lesson about making friends from Jesus. Starting in verse 13, we read this, that "When morning came, he," Jesus, "called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom he also designated apostles: Simon named Peter, his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who is called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor".

Here's the lesson, if you wanna make the right friends, look for common purpose over common interest. Look for common purpose over common interest. Jesus' disciples came from all different walks of life. Like Jesus didn't just go and find the band kids or the gamers or the athletes. Jesus assembled a team of followers from all different walks of life: tax collectors, fishermen, zealots, all sorts of different people. And He brought them together and united them under a common purpose, being devoted to serving God in every aspect of their lives. So if you want to make the right friends, then one of the best things you can do is not just make friends with people who are like you or who look like you or who like the same things that you like. Like all of that stuff is fine and good, but more often than not, the best friends are the people who are actually different from us in important ways, but unified with us in the most important ways, being centered on Jesus.

And so while it's easy to become friends with people who like the same stuff as us, the best friends you can find are those who are chasing after the things that you're chasing, who value the things that you value. If you're a follower of Jesus, that means people who are following Jesus too. If you wanna make great friends, first thing you've gotta do is seek them out, but do not freak them out. Next, you've gotta take it slow if you wanna let it grow. Then, look for common purpose over common interest. And then fourth, care more about being interested than being interesting. The Apostle Paul in Philippians 2 writes this. He says, "In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus".

Care more about being interested in the other person than trying to be as interesting as possible. Pro tip, if you want to annoy people, be a master one upper. Like anytime somebody tells a story, just one up it, look for every chance to brag about your achievements, take hold of every opening in the conversation to tell everybody about how awesome you are. And if you do, you might be interesting, but you're gonna push people away. If you wanna make the right friends, then care more about being interested in them. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Hear what it is they have to say. Look for the things that they care about and spend time talking about those things. The more you do, the more you give them your undivided attention, the more they will actually be drawn to you and want to spend more time with you. That's how you make really great friends. You choose to be more interested in them than trying to make yourself seem interesting to other people.

So if you wanna make the right friends, here are the lessons that we've learned from Jesus. First, we've learned that you've gotta seek them out, but don't freak them out. Then, you've gotta take it slow to let it grow. Look for common purpose over common interest. Care more about being interested than being interesting. And then lastly, if you want to make great friends, when things get hard, stick it out, don't just cut them out. Stick it out, don't just cut them out. In John 15:13, Jesus says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends".

This right here is probably the most difficult thing for us to do, and it's perhaps the most important lesson Jesus taught us about being a great friend. Because at the end of Jesus's life, He had His 12 followers, His disciples. And every single one of those chumps, let Him down in His hour of need. Like Judas literally betrayed Him. Peter denied Him. The rest abandoned Him while He was in the lowest point of His life, being taken prisoner, eventually executed, put to death in a brutal fashion. But here's what's so beautiful about Jesus. Even though His friends turned their backs on Him, He never stopped loving them. You see, every step of the way, Jesus was committed to loving them, to being a friend to them. Even in the moment when He's dying on the cross, He's still thinking about His friends, choosing to die as the sacrifice for their sins. Jesus didn't cut them out, and Jesus will never cut you out.

And so if you wanna make the right friends, if you wanna be a great friend, one of the best things you can do is do for them what Jesus has done for you. Like when things get hard, don't just give up on the friendship. Don't just cut that person out of your life, but choose to stick it out. Choose to push through the difficult stuff together. And what you'll find is that your strongest friendships often get even stronger when you push through difficult times. So stick it out, don't cut it out. If you wanna make great friends, do what Jesus did. Seek them out, don't freak them out. Take it slow to let it grow. Look for common purpose over common interest. Care more about being interested than being interesting. When things get hard, stick it out, don't cut them out. Because your friendships have the power to make or break your future.

Now, if I were to tell you one thing to do after hearing all of that, the one thing you can do to begin making the right friendships, friendships that will make you and your future better, here's what I would say: Make it your goal to be at Switch every week and go all in with your Switch group. Make it your goal to be at Switch every week this fall and go all in with your Switch group. Be committed to them and choose to commit to each other because your friendships have the power to make or break your future. And the best place to make great friendships, friendships that will make you better, is in the church, people committed to following Jesus and changing the world together. 2,000 years ago, Jesus changed the world through a group of 120 friends that were committed to following Him, which funny enough, is almost the exact size of the average Switch.

So think about this. If Jesus could change the world through 120 believers back then, imagine what He could do through us. Imagine what God could do if we were all in on being the church, being there for each other and following Jesus as He leads us to change the world, because that's what we are here about at Switch. We are here to become the kind of people who love God with all that we are, who love others the same way that Jesus loves us, and who play our part in God's plan to change the world. Your friendships have the power to make or break your future.

Lord Jesus, we thank You so much that You loved us enough to die for us on that cross. We thank You that when You left earth, You left a family that we can belong to. So God, I pray that every single one of us would know that we have a part in this family, that there is a place for us to belong, there are people here who love us. God, I pray for those of us who already have found our place that You would help us to see how we can bring others into Your family to help them see just how much You love them, just how valuable they are to You. God, help us to make the right friends, so that together, we can change the world. It's in Jesus' name, amen.

There's probably some of you that as you're listening to this message, you're hearing all about the church. You're hearing all about this beautiful example that Jesus set for us on how to make the right friends. But here's what's even more important than any of that is that Jesus did all of that so that you could know Him. Jesus is the God of heaven who became a human being and walked on the earth to bring you into a relationship with Him. He loves you so much that He was willing to die on the cross for you. And then on the third day, He rose from the dead proving that He is the Son of God, that He is the God of heaven, that He has the power of life, and anybody who puts their trust in Him would experience life with Him forever. That's what He is inviting you into, a relationship with Him that begins now and goes on into eternity.
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