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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - How Far Would You Go for Your Friends?

James Meehan - How Far Would You Go for Your Friends?

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    James Meehan - How Far Would You Go for Your Friends

How far would you go to help someone you care about get the care they need? Like what steps would you take to help someone you love, overcome whatever struggle they are going through? The friends that we're gonna read about in today's passage of scripture, were willing to do whatever it takes to bring their friend to Jesus because they believed that if they just get their friend to Jesus, Jesus would heal his body. And so what we're gonna do is read a passage of scripture found in Mark chapter two, and as we do, we're gonna pay special attention to this group of friends and how they were willing to follow Jesus, to see what lessons we might be able to learn for our own lives.

So starting in Mark chapter two, verse one, here's what we read. We read that when Jesus returns to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Because Jesus was a big deal. Like he had been doing lots of things that nobody else had ever done before. So the house where he was staying became so packed with visitors that there was no more room even outside the door. Like it's real crowded. People want to see what Jesus has to do. They want to hear what he has to say because at this point, Jesus has been performing miracles. He's been casting out demons. He has been teaching with an authority that people had never heard before.

So when they heard he was in town, they showed up to check it out. If we keep reading, we see that while he was preaching God's word to them, so Jesus is preaching a sermon, four men, they arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat, but they couldn't bring him to Jesus because of the crowd. So dot, dot, dot. They got their friend, they carried him however far they needed to get him to Jesus. But it is so crowded that they can't get him to Jesus, so dot, dot, dot. What do they do? Thankfully they did not do what most of us do, which is as soon as things get hard, we just like give up and call it a day. It's like, man, I tried. I invited that friend to church and they said no. And so that's the end.

You know, like I was telling my friend about Jesus, but then it got like a little bit awkward, so I quickly changed the subject. You know, like I wanted to start serving and making a difference but like then I lost the application and you know, I didn't wanna ask that person to like sign it again because you know, so I just stopped. Thankfully that's not what happened with these four friends. They just dug in. Like literally if we keep reading. What we see is that they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Jesus is preaching a sermon. They carry their friend onto the roof and start digging a hole in the roof of this house.

And then they just casually lowered the man on his mat right down in front of Jesus. This right here, ladies and gentlemen, is a case of not just evangelism, but evangelism. Like they're literally vandalizing the house to bring their friend to Jesus. And what I think is so interesting is already we are seeing that there is something special about these friends, about their care for their friend and their commitment to do whatever it takes to bring him to Jesus. Jesus in the middle of the sermon has the roof dug up and somebody lowered in front of him, and how does he respond? Well, what we read next says that seeing their faith.

Now that's underlined because it's important and we're gonna come back to it later. Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "My child, your sins are forgiven". My child, your sins are forgiven. Now, you may have noticed that the paralyzed man is a grown man, and if you are a grown man in the room, being called a child by another man doesn't really sound that awesome. And just to clarify, Jesus is not talking down to this person. What Jesus is doing is helping the paralyzed man understand how God sees him. Because in this day and age, in this culture, if somebody had some sort of a disability, it was often viewed by other people as God cursing that person because of either a sin they had committed or a sin their parents had committed.

And so this dude, not only was he physically paralyzed, but he had probably been pushed out of so many of the different social circles he was supposed to belong to. Because in many people's eyes, he was cursed by God. That's why Jesus looks him in the eyes and says, "My child, your heavenly Father sees you as his son who he loves". And so those words aren't like condescending, it is full of compassion. And then Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven". Which he's kind of interesting if you think about it, because I don't think that's actually the thing the guy wanted most. I think what the guy wanted most was for his legs to be healed.

And this is a little bit difficult for us sometimes, but it's really important that sometimes God will give us what we need, even when it's not the thing that we want. Because absolutely like God cares about our physical bodies and the struggles and suffering that we go through. But more than anything, God cares about your relationship with him. And the thing that gets in the way of your relationship with God is sin. It is this disease of self-centeredness that turns us away from God, bends us in on ourselves so that the things that we want are not good or true. And the things that we do often cause far more harm than we realize that they do. And that's where Jesus starts by saying, "My child, you are loved by God and your sins are forgiven".

Now, it's interesting though because if we keep reading, we read about another group of people. We had the crowd, we had the friends, we had the paralyzed man, but in verse six, we read about some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there and they thought to themselves, what is he saying? This is blasphemy. Only God can forgive sins. And that's true, but this just goes to show that the teachers of the religious law, the people who are supposed to know the most about God have not been paying attention because Mark chapter one, the chapter that comes right before this has event after event demonstrating that Jesus is the savior king, that Jesus is the son of God, that he is God in human form.

So when Jesus speaks, he's speaking as God, but instead of like actually paying attention and taking Jesus seriously, they've just been sitting on the sidelines criticizing him, looking for him to do something that they can disagree with. But if we keep reading, Jesus, he knew immediately what they were thinking. So he asked them this question, "Why do you question this in your hearts? Why do you question this in your hearts"? That in your hearts is really important.

We're gonna come back to it later. But I think what's interesting here is you've got the paralyzed man who everybody else sees his physical brokenness. And then you have the teachers of religious law who on the outside seem like they have it all together. But Jesus makes it really clear with his question that there is something wrong with them too. But their brokenness is on the inside, it's in their hearts. And the good news for them, the good news for you is that no matter where your issue is, Jesus sees it and he cares enough to call it out. Jesus sees their brokenness, he sees the brokenness of the man, and he has a plan to deal with both of them in a way that is so loving.

If we continue reading in the same passage verse nine, Jesus asks the question, "Hey, is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, your sins are forgiven or stand up, pick up your mat and walk". Verse 10, but I will prove to you that the son of man, that's Jesus has the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus turns to the paralyzed man and he says, "Stand up, pick up your mat and go home". Verse 12 tells us this. And the man jumped up, he grabbed his mat and he walked out through the stunned onlookers and they were all amazed and praising God, exclaiming, "We have never seen anything like this before". Now what's interesting is Jesus said, "Hey, I'm going to prove that I have the power to forgive sins and the way that I'm going to prove it is by curing this man of his paralysis".

Like, I'm going to show you how powerful I am. I can forgive sins, and the evidence will be he gets up and walks. Now, I think that's really interesting because again, for so many of us, we would think the thing that matters most is walking again. But Jesus is doubling down that actually what we need most is forgiveness of sins because it is our sin that separates us from God. It is our sin that is that invisible disease that wreaks havoc on our souls. And so yes, Jesus absolutely caress about healing and comforting us in our physical suffering. But he wants everybody to know that he came with a very specific mission to announce that forgiveness of sins has been a made available to everyone, that the love of God is here if you are willing to receive it.

Now, as we walked through this passage of scripture, there were four groups of people. There was the crowd who showed up to see what Jesus was going to do. There were the friends who were willing to do whatever it takes to bring their buddy to Jesus. There was the paralyzed man who desperately needed Jesus to intervene on his behalf. And then there were the teachers of the religious law who sat back and criticized all of it. And like from this point on, I want you to begin thinking through, if you were in this story, which group are you most similar to? Like are you the crowd that you show up to switch because you know, you just wanna see what's gonna happen? Are you the friends who are desperate for God to move in the life of your friend? Are you the paralyzed man who is just hoping that Jesus will do something for you because you are in need or you like the religious teachers?

You're kinda just here to like nitpick and criticize and make fun of something that matters so much to the other people in the room. Whichever one you are, I just want you to think about it because later on in our small groups, we're gonna talk a little bit about who are you and what would it look like for you to take a step to becoming less of one of the not ideal groups and more like the friends who are willing to do whatever it takes to bring others to Jesus. Because for us as a church, we made a decision a long time ago that we want to be a community that looks like those friends. That's why we have an aligning value that says this, that we will do anything short of to reach people who do not know Christ.

And in order to reach people, no one is reaching. We'll have to do things that no one is doing. Like we wanna do whatever it takes to bring people who are far from God close to Jesus because we believe that Jesus has the power to change everything and that a relationship with Jesus is better than anything and so that's who we want to be. That's who those friends were. But like the question becomes awesome. That sounds really good, but like, how do we actually do that? Because, I don't think I'm supposed to tear through the roof of the church building. You're not, please do not try it. Made of different material, it will not go well. But hopefully you do have a desire to be like the friends willing to do whatever it takes to bring your friends to Jesus.

So how do we do that? What I wanna do is introduce to you a like pretty basic practice. It's something that we call a spiritual discipline. It is a habit that Jesus had and that when we take into our lives actually helps us become more like Jesus. It actually helps us become the kind of people who will do anything short of sin to reach people who are far from God. And this particular habit we're gonna talk about is a habit designed to help us cultivate healthy hearts because the problem that the teachers of the religious law had was in their hearts. And when we practice what are called spiritual disciplines, we are adopting habits that are us working with God to renovate our hearts, to make our hearts new, inviting the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do by us doing the things that we can do.

And so the spiritual practice I wanna introduce you to is simply called worship. Worship, it means putting God first and giving him your best. Putting God first and giving him your best. Now, I know some of you heard that word and what immediately came to your mind is, oh yeah, that's like when we sing songs at church. And yes, absolutely that is an expression of worship. But worship is so much more than simply singing songs to God. That is a beautiful way to worship. But worship is in anything we do, doing it in such a way that we put God first and we give him our very best. And the reason why this habit is so powerful, because the more that we do that, the more that we put God first, the more that we give him our very best, the more we see just how faithful he is, the more that we experience his love and his goodness in our lives.

And what it does is it starts to change our hearts so that we actually want more of God and less of the things of this world. And it actually makes us want to bring other people into that relationship with God that we get to experience. It's the thing that makes inviting people to church way less awkward because instead of it feeling forced, you're just talking about the thing you love most in the world and it just comes out of you naturally. I told you earlier, there was that line where Jesus saw their faith and I said, we're gonna come back to it. We're coming back to it right now. Jesus saw their faith because their belief that Jesus had the power to rescue their friend was so deep in their bones that it changed the way they live.

It was visible how passionate about Jesus they were. You couldn't miss it. They lowered their friend in front of Jesus's face in the middle of his sermon. And so, if your faith can't be seen by others, then you're probably not most like the friends. If you haven't been so changed by Jesus that it is obvious in the way that you talk, that it is clear in the choices that you make on a daily basis, then you're probably more like the crowd than you are like the friends. And if you wanna move from being one of the crowd to being one of the friends, the best thing that you can do is practice the spiritual discipline of worship, putting God first and giving him your best. There's three levels to this that I wanna introduce to you to.

Level one, easiest place to start. Worship at church every week. Worship at church every week. Now lemme be clear, worshiping at church is a lot more than showing up to church because some of y'all showed up tonight, but you have not been worshiping. You showed up tonight looking just to get attention from your friends, making jokes while I'm talking. You're planning already in your mind not to pay attention in your small group. And here's the thing, I'm so glad you're here because being here is better than not being here. But worshiping while you're here is better than not worshiping while you're here because the teachers of the religious law, they showed up to church, but they were not worshiping at church. So while you are here, what would it look like to actually put God first in worship in the message in your small group? What would it look like for you to make it a habit, to show up to church and be all in on giving God your very best?

That's level one. Level two is, this to worship as soon as you wake up. Worship as soon as you wake up. Your eyes open, the alarm goes off. What is the first thing you go for? Is it social media? Is it your text messages? Is it your favorite iPhone game? If it's any of those things, then I wanna encourage you to not go to that, but instead go to God in prayer. Like for me, it's really simple. I wake up and as soon as I can think about it, I thank God for three things. I thank God for my family, I thank God for his grace, and I thank God for another day where I get to serve him. And then I just ask Him, "God, today, help me be faithful to you and helpful to others". That's it. Really short, really sweet. But my goal is to give God my very first thoughts of the day so that for the rest of the day, he gets my very best.

And the third thing, and this is the thing that we all are trying to get to if we are following Jesus, is to worship every moment of every day. That's where worship isn't just something you do, but it becomes like breathing. It is so natural that you can't not do it unless you actually try not to do it. And to get there absolutely requires levels one and two. You don't get to level three without those first two. But if you practice by showing up to church ready to worship every week, by opening your eyes first thing in the morning, committed to giving God your first and your best, then over time, every moment of every day starts to become a little bit more real and less like some dream that'll never happen, and you may not be perfect at it, but if you keep moving forward, keep doing what you can to trust that Jesus has the power to change everything, that life with him is better than anything.

Then you'll look back eventually and see how much Jesus has changed you, how much he has made you into the kind of person who actually will do anything short of sin to reach people who do not know him, to actually make you into the kind of person who is willing to do what nobody else is doing so that you can reach the people that nobody else is reaching. This is how we follow Jesus. We commit to make worship a habit by putting him first and giving him our best. We choose to let him change us from the inside out, into the kind of people who really love him and really love others.

So Lord Jesus, we thank you so much that you loved us enough to become one of us, that you showed up in history and you made a way for all of us to be made right with you. I pray that all of us would be honest about how committed to you we really are, that we would hear whatever it is that you want to say to us right now, and that we would respond in a way that brings us closer to who you want us to be. We pray all of this in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

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