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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Is Insecurity Keeping You from an Authentic Life?

James Meehan - Is Insecurity Keeping You from an Authentic Life?

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    James Meehan - Is Insecurity Keeping You from an Authentic Life?
TOPICS: Insecurity

Well, today we are talking about how to live free from insecurity, and filled with authenticity. Because now possibly more than ever before, that is something we all desire in our lives, authenticity. We want that in our relationships. We want that in the stuff that we do on a daily basis. We want that in our faith, something that is real and true, not a bunch of phonies and fakes. And I think the reason that we want this so much more now than maybe generations past is because literally every day, we are bombarded by all sorts of ads and commercials that promise so much, and deliver so little.

So that when we are finally introduced to something that is real and true through and through, it is like a breath of fresh air. To illustrate, let's talk about chicken sandwiches. You may not know this, but the McChicken Sandwich was invented in the year 1980, and I was first introduced to it when I was in the eighth grade. And the thing is, is like when I first started eating McChickens, I thought it was awesome, because like back then in the olden days, they cost a buck. So I would just load up on those suckers, and I would eat them all the time. Not because they were delicious, but because they were cheap, and I didn't know that there was something better.

And then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. I mean, everything changed when I was introduced to the OG, the Chick-fil-A Sandwich, invented, you may not know this, in the year 1964. The Chick-fil-A Sandwich is the original. It did it first and it still does it best. It is always good, and you always know what you are getting. The McChicken is nothing more than a sandwich pretending to be the Chick-fil-A Sandwich. And sometimes what you get with the McChicken is soggy bread, paper thin chicken, and construction paper, green construction paper shredded up to look like lettuce and sprinkled on top.

The McChicken is a pretender. Chick-fil-A though, that sandwich has integrity. And isn't that what we want in our lives, in our food, in our friendships and in our faith? We want the real thing. We don't want something that is just playing pretend. And that's why at our church, we have a value that goes like this. "We will honor Christ and His church with integrity. If we live with integrity, nothing else matters. If we don't live with integrity, nothing else matters".

Now you might be wondering, what exactly does that mean? What does the word integrity mean? If you're taking notes, I want you to write this down. Integrity means being the same person in every situation. In every scenario, you are the same person. The words you say match the life you live. You are holding to your values regardless of who is around or what you are doing. That's what it means to be a person of integrity. It is the opposite of being a faker or playing pretend. And the reason integrity matters so much is because pursuing authenticity without integrity almost always leads to insecurity.

Pursuing authenticity without integrity almost always leads to insecurity. And the evidence of this is all around us, because we live in a world where people are desperate for authenticity. They want the real thing, and yet, possibly now more than ever before in our pursuit of authenticity, what we have ended up with is crippling insecurity and overwhelming anxiety. So, what do we do? Like how do we actually get the thing that we're all chasing after? How do we actually live with integrity so that we can find authenticity? Well, that's exactly what the rest of this message is all about.

And the good news is that we get to learn from the absolute expert on the subject, not me, but a dude named Jesus. We're in week seven of our series How We Follow Jesus, where every single week we have looked at a different chapter of the gospel according to Mark. And we have seen all of the stuff that Jesus said and did, to try to figure out what does it look like for us to faithfully follow him in our modern world. And in today's Bible reading, we're gonna see Jesus go toe to toe with the religious leaders. We're gonna watch as he cuts to the heart of their hypocrisy, and he shows us the path to living with integrity. But before we dive in, a little bit of background context for you.

Throughout Jesus' life and ministry, he had quite a few run-ins with the religious leaders. And over and over again, there was some disagreement, because these were religious leaders, while many of them wanted to honor God and help people, they had so missed the mark of what it actually looks like to be faithful to God, that more often than not they ended up causing harm rather than good. The mistake that they kept making was that they were so focused on looking good on the outside that they became blinded to how ugly they were on the inside. But Jesus has a very different focus, because Jesus isn't just trying to make us look good on the outside, he wants to clean us up on the inside.

The religious leaders, in summary, what they cared about were clean hands, but what Jesus cares about are pure hearts. So we're gonna start reading in Mark 7:5. We'll read that, "The Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, 'Why don't your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand washing ceremony.' And then Jesus replied, 'You hypocrites. Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you for he wrote, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce. It is fake, for they teach manmade ideas as commands from God". You ignore God's law and substitute your own tradition.'"

Jesus is coming in hot. And if you are the kind of person who is fed up with fakers and phonies, you have something in common with Jesus, because he was actually the person who first coined the term hypocrite as a way to call people out who said one thing but did another. And the reason why Jesus is coming in so hot is because he sees more clearly than most of us how much damage is caused when we choose to be hypocrites, particularly when religious people choose to be hypocrites. And what Jesus wants to do is help these people see something that they don't currently see, because all they're looking at is what's on the outside, the thing that will produce clean hands. And because of that, they've actually ignored the stuff that will change them on the inside, that will make their hearts pure.

And the thing is, is like this whole idea of saying one thing and doing another is not just something that happened back in the day with those people. It is something that all of us today are guilty of. Because truth be told, it is far easier to talk the talk than to actually walk the walk. And this is why so many people end up talking a lot about the things of God, but then you look at the life that they live and you see something that is far, far from what God actually wants for us. And so what we need to be able to do is acknowledge that we are not immune to hypocrisy, that these words that Jesus spoke to them so long ago actually do apply to us today.

If we keep reading, Jesus goes on to say that, "You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold onto your own tradition". You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold onto your own tradition. The more we play pretend, the better we get at playing pretend. The more we fake being a follower of Jesus, the better we get at faking following Jesus. And there are some of you right now who you've gotten really good at saying you're a follower of Christ, but living a life that is wildly different. For some of you right now, you are crossing sexual lines with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, and you've convinced yourself it's okay because you're gonna get married someday.

Others of you, you've gotten really good at embellishing your stories just enough that you look way better, but not enough that people can tell you're lying. For some of you, you're hiding a secret addiction, and the reason that you haven't told anybody is because you keep telling yourself that it doesn't hurt anybody. And if any of those things describe you, then I really want you to pay attention to what Jesus says next. We go on to read Jesus saying, "And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition". You cancel the word of God. Jesus is saying is, what he's saying is that, hey, like if you say you follow God without actually doing what he says, in effect, you are canceling his word.

That is how seriously Jesus takes this stuff, because he saw firsthand the harm that came from religious people who said one thing and did another. And like the bar just keeps getting raised, like it sounds almost unrealistic and unattainable, like how can we actually live up to that standard? Don't worry, we will get there in just a minute. But there's some of you even right now, you're like, "Man, I'm so glad those people are hearing this message". But this is a message for all of us. Jesus says something very important. "He called to the crowd to come and hear and he said, 'All of you listen. All of you listen.'"

That means this message is for who? All of you. All of us. He says, "Try to understand, it is not what goes into your body that defiles you, that makes you unclean. You are defiled by what comes from your heart". Jesus wants to make it clear that the danger of hypocrisy is something that we are all sometimes victim to, not just because other people do it to us, but because we also do it too. Because it's not the stuff on the outside that messes us up on the inside. It is the mess on the inside that comes pouring out and ruining our lives and wrecking our relationships. But after Jesus said this, there's a bunch of people who still didn't quite get it.

So later Jesus disciples come to him and said, "Hey, can you explain it"? And so Jesus explains it. He says, "Don't you understand either? Can't you see that the food you put into your body, it cannot defile you? Food doesn't go into your heart, it only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer". Now by saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God's eyes. And then he added, and I want you guys to pay attention here, "It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within out of a person's heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within. They are what defile you".

It is what comes from inside. It's the evil thoughts. It's these vile things, things that the Bible calls sin. It is this disease that all of us have already caught. None of us are immune, and that disease is what produces all of the stuff that hurts us, that hurts others, and separates us from God. That's the problem. What exactly is the solution? Now, what's interesting is Jesus doesn't give the solution here, but that's because every chapter of Mark's gospel leading up to this, Jesus has shown us the solution over and over and over again. Every chapter of Mark's gospel, we have seen that the solution to our sin is actually Jesus. It is coming to him out of humble desperation.

This is why at the very beginning of his ministry, in Mark 1:15, Jesus makes this announcement. He says that, "The time promised by God has come at last. The Kingdom of God is near, so repent of your sins". That means change your life. "And believe the good news". Trust in Jesus. And over and over again, throughout the last seven chapters, we have seen exactly that happen. People coming to Jesus out of humble desperation, and when they do, Jesus meets them in the middle of their mess and he offers them mercy, forgiving their sins, healing their bodies, changing their lives in miraculous ways.

In chapter one, Jesus turns some fishermen into his followers. In chapter two, a paralyzed man shows up and Jesus forgives his sins and gives him the ability to walk again. In chapter three, there's all these people who have been pushed out by their society, and Jesus says, "You have a place to belong in the family of God". In chapter four, you've got the crowd and the committed. And after Jesus says a bunch of stuff that leaves everybody confused, those who were committed, those who stuck around when everybody left got to hear the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. Then in the next chapter, chapter five, we see a man possessed by demons set free. We see a woman who has been suffering from bleeding for 12 years healed. We see a man come to Jesus desperately asking Jesus to heal his daughter, and Jesus raises her from the dead.

And then chapter six, the last chapter that we just read, you see thousands of people coming to Jesus, and he meets them with compassion, and he feeds them a meal. Because when we come to Jesus, he forgives our sins, he heals our hearts, and he changes our lives. This act of coming to Jesus over and over and over again is what the Bible calls confession and repentance, confession and repentance. To confess, it means to agree with God and admit we have sinned. And to repent, it means turning away from our sin and turning toward God. We are turning away from what is wrong, and we are turning toward what is right.

And these words, confession and repentance. This is something that absolutely happens at the very beginning when you start following Jesus, and confession and repentance is every step of your life with Jesus. It is not a one and done thing. Like when you first confess and believe that Jesus is Lord and turn your life over to him, you get saved, you start the race of the Christian life. But every step after that is continuing to agree with God about Jesus, to admit that you've fallen short of your standard, and to do your best to chase after him no matter what gets in the way. This isn't a one and done thing. It is the regular rhythm of the Christian life.

Like when I first became a Christian, I confessed. I admitted that I was a sinner, and I agreed that Jesus is the Savior, and I did the best I could to turn my life around, to stop chasing after the things of this world, and to start chasing after the God who loved me and saved me. When I was a baby Christian, I confessed that I need to stop looking at porn. I need to stop saying naughty words. I need to stop treating people poorly and being a jerk to my family. And I repented. I did the best I could to cut that stuff out of my life so that I could live more faithfully to Jesus. Confession and repentance. But that's not just something I did at the beginning of my faith journey. I'm doing it literally every day.

Last week I had to confess, because I was ridiculously judgmental about a person who I just don't agree with. And I recognized, you know what? That was very un-Christian of me. I'm sorry, and I want to be better. This week I got real defensive because I had this idea that I thought was awesome. Somebody else thought it was awful, and I did not like being told my idea was awful, so I got, you know, like insecure. My ego flared up. And so I had to confess to admit that I was wrong, to apologize to that person, and ask them how I could do better moving forward. Confession and repentance. This is the rhythm of the Christian life.

Another thing that I do is every day, I have a text with my brother-in-law, where we just share our wins and our sins. Wins are just anything we do that honors God or helps people, and we just celebrate those. And then sins or any attitudes or actions we have that are not honoring God, that are not helping other people. And we do this every single day, because we believe that the act of confessing and repenting is what moves us forward in our relationship with Jesus. It is what removes hypocrisy from our lives and allows us to actually live with integrity, because it is the thing that brings together what we say and how we live, so that there is no gap.

And isn't that what we're all chasing after? To be people of integrity, who can live lives filled with authenticity, freed from insecurity. And so that's what I wanna invite you to do is to celebrate your wins and confess your sins with your Switch group. Like tonight, I really want you to share the things that didn't go so well in the last week, the things where you fell short. And I want you to talk about the ways that God is using you to make a difference, because we want to be a people who are freed from insecurity and hypocrisy. And I believe the best way that we can do that, to make confession and repentance a part of our rhythms as a Switch movement.

So tonight, celebrate your wins and confess your sins. And something that we're gonna do for the rest of this semester of Switch is we're gonna have that space on our message guides. We're gonna kick off small groups by every week celebrating wins and confessing sins together, because this is not a one and done kind of thing. This is something that we do over and over again as we come back to Jesus. And I believe that this is powerful because 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He, Jesus, is faithful and just. He will forgive us our sins and He will purify us. He will clean us from all unrighteousness.

This is how we live with integrity, we confess and we repent. We chase after Jesus. We admit when we've fallen short. We choose to live with integrity, so that we can actually achieve authenticity and be freed from insecurity. This is how we follow Jesus. We honor Christ and his church with integrity. And we believe that when we live with integrity, nothing else matters, and when we don't live with integrity, nothing else matters. So let us be people of integrity, who are honest about what's on the inside, and we are asking God to change the stuff on the outside, so that over time we can look more like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for how much you love us. You see us as we really are, and no matter how many times we fall short, you always meet us with grace. Your love for us never changes, no matter how much we get it right or how much we mess it up. And so help us have the courage to be honest with you and with others about the things that we've gotten wrong, and give us the strength to keep coming back to you, to keep turning our lives to you, trusting that as we do, you will cure us of this disease that separates us from you. We pray all this in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.

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