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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - The Wrong Way to Follow Jesus (Don't Make This Mistake)

James Meehan - The Wrong Way to Follow Jesus (Don't Make This Mistake)

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    James Meehan - The Wrong Way to Follow Jesus (Don't Make This Mistake)

Quite frankly, most Christians suck at following Jesus. That includes me. Most of us don't really do a good job of actually following Jesus. We do a really good job of talking about following Jesus, and talking about Jesus-y things, but actually taking the step of following him, of doing the things that he asks us to, is a lot rarer than it probably should be. Because most of us, instead of following Jesus, we simply settle for admiring Jesus, and they are not even close to being the same things. Like, let me just read this to you. Admiring Jesus means having positive thoughts and feelings about Jesus, and doing some of what he talks about.

You know, as long as it's comfortable, and convenient for you, as long as it's comfortable and convenient for me. Because, based on human nature, we naturally do what's easy, we naturally do what is convenient, we naturally do what is comfortable. And like, to be fair to you all listening to this message, this problem, a lot of it comes from the fact that we use the word following today to describe something that is nothing like following in Jesus' day. Like even when I was a kid, when you would talk about following somebody, the picture that would come in your mind is the game Follow the Leader, where, whoever is the leader, you follow them. Like you actually go where they go, you do what they do, you repeat what they say, and that's how you play the game Follow the Leader.

But in our day, in the world that you've grown up in, the world you've inherited, we talk about following all the time when it refers to distant people on the internet. Maybe they're people that we actually know, like friends or family members, oftentimes though, it's like celebrities or influencers that we have never met, but we say we're following them. And what we really mean is we are admiring them from a distance. And if they ask us to do things, we might actually do it if it's what we want to do. But that is so much less than the calling that Jesus has offered to you, that is so much less than the invitation that he has given you. Because what Jesus wants to invite you into is not just admiring him from a distance, but truly following him.

That's what his earliest followers did. You may not know this, but before they were called Christians, they were called Followers of the Way, because the earliest followers of Jesus understood that what he came to do was introduce an entirely new way of life. So much more than, you know, just going to church when it fits into your schedule, or reading the Bible and praying when you remember to, which rarely do we actually remember to. Or, you know, like occasionally doing an act of service or good to somebody in need, as long as it's not too weird or too uncomfortable. The earliest followers of Jesus gave up everything to follow him. And through their act of obedience, devoting their lives to him, their lives were completely changed, and Jesus used them to change the world.

And that very same way of life, that very same power is available to you today, but in order to step into it, we have to move from simply admiring Jesus to actually following Jesus. So, what does it mean to follow Jesus? Throughout this series, when we talk about following Jesus, what we mean is this, we mean going where he goes, doing what he does, trusting what he says, and loving how he loves.

The first time I was introduced to a group of people who didn't just admire Jesus, but actually followed Jesus, that changed everything. Because, growing, up I had been involved in churches, I had people in my life that called themselves Christians, but very few of them, I would say, were actually willing to go where Jesus went, to do what Jesus did, to trust what Jesus said, and to love how Jesus loved. And because of that, growing up, the picture of Christianity I had in my mind was something that just didn't seem worth it. To the point where, when I was in middle school, I disengaged from church, and I unfollowed Jesus altogether, because it just didn't seem like it was worth the time or the energy. And I spent a lot of years doubting the truth of who Jesus is. I spent a lot of years wanting to have nothing to do with churches and church people.

And maybe, as you're sitting here listening to this message, you're finding yourself feeling like you're not sure if you want to be here either. Or maybe you're listening to this message, and you got really excited about following Jesus several months ago when he showed up in your life in a radical way, but since then, the fire that once was blazing has started to fade, and now what's replacing it is some disappointment, because things aren't going the way that you thought they would. Or maybe the disappointment has gotten so big that you're starting to doubt if what you experienced was even real. Or maybe you've moved past doubt, maybe, like I was, you've already walked away from the church altogether, and the only reason you're here today is because a friend invited you.

Wherever you might find yourself in that journey, I want you to know that I'm so glad that you're here, because there's really good news. The good news is that the same movement that flipped the world upside down, the revolution that Jesus started 2,000 years ago that literally remade the world as we know it is alive and well in the world today. And even though maybe the versions of Christianity you've seen in the past didn't seem like good news, I'm telling you, the version that Jesus introduced is good news. And my hope is that you will be open to what it is that maybe Jesus wants to show you, that you would be willing to give him a chance, to begin to take the steps to make his way of life your way of life.

Now, this is just the beginning of this seven part series, and so what I wanna do is kind of like lay a foundation for everywhere we will go from here on out. Lay a foundation that we will continue to build on in the weeks to come. So, I'm gonna talk about four big ideas that are essential in the Jesus way of life. So, if you are following along, make sure you take notes, 'cause we're gonna move through this quickly. The goal is not for you to memorize it all, but to give you a more full picture of what following Jesus is really like. So, first thing's first, following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life. Following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment in the entire Bible was, in Mark chapter 12, verses 29 and 31, Jesus says, "The most important one is this, hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Now love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these". When Jesus was asked what matters most, he said love God with every single part of who you are, and love others the same way that you want to be loved. In other words, Jesus is saying, the thing that matters most is going all-in for God, for devoting every part of your life to loving him and serving others.

I wanna illustrate it with a picture of a pie, it's gonna pop up right there, that is a pie, in case you are wondering. The next picture is a pie chart. Now, on this pie chart, there's like different slices that represent the different pieces of our lives, and these are just an example of what yours might look like. You've got like romantic relationships, friendships, hobbies, family, other, school, faith. And depending on what you care about, the different slices of your pie may look different. Like, if you are one of the guys in my Switch group, the other slice would probably be two-thirds of the pie, and primarily consist of your love for Minecraft. And that's okay, maybe for some of you, the OTHER would also be about two-thirds of your pie, because once season two of "Ginny & Georgia" dropped, that became your new identity, like, that might be the case for you.

But here's what I want you to notice. When we look at this graph, for those of us who are Christians, we may think that the goal of being a good Christian is for the faith slice to be the biggest slice. And while that may be good, that's actually not the goal. Because our faith in Jesus is never meant to be just a part of our life, it's never meant to be just a slice. Our faith in Jesus is the crust that holds the entire pie together, it is meant to be a part of everything else we do. The way that we interact with our family should be infused with the love of Jesus, the way that we engage in our romantic relationships, the way that we show up to school should be fueled by a passion for loving God and loving others. Because following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life.

The second thing is, following Jesus will make you more like Jesus. Following Jesus will make you more like Jesus. In Luke, chapter six, verse 40, Jesus tells us that the student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully-trained will be like their teacher. Jesus is our teacher, we are his students. That's what it means to be a disciple, a disciple is a student of a teacher. And so what Jesus is saying is that our job, as his students, as his followers, is to become just like him. This is why we say that discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus for the sake of others. Because if we are actually making progress in this journey, then we're gonna become more like Jesus, and we're gonna be more focused on serving other people. And let me tell you something, I've been following Jesus for about nine years now, and I am radically different today than I was back then.

Now, I am very far from perfect, but I'm also so far from who I used to be. Because, every single day, Jesus is making me more of who I'm meant to be. He's making me somebody that's more kind, more loving, more gracious, and more courageous. And if you commit to following him, to making his way of life your way of life, he's gonna do the same for you. Following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life. Following Jesus will make you more like Jesus. And following Jesus is about being with Jesus. In Matthew, chapter four, we read about Jesus calling his first disciples. And when he calls them, notice what he says, he says, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people".

At once, these disciples left their nets and followed him. Following Jesus is about being with Jesus. The best part of following Jesus is Jesus. Think about it like this. My wife and I got married almost seven years ago, and imagine if, after we got married, the only thing that changed in our lives was she started going by my last name, but we never like moved in together, we didn't spend our lives together, we didn't raise a family together, we didn't merge our priorities. Like imagine if nothing changed except her last name. That would be really, really strange. That would be missing out on all the best parts of marriage. And yet, tragically, there are some of you who are listening to this message right now where the only thing that changed when you decided to start following Jesus is you started calling yourself a Christian.

But Jesus wants so much more for you. Jesus wants you to know him, and to know just how much he loves you. Like I can tell you that the best part of being married is not the wedding or any of the other details, the best part of being married is getting to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. It's the fact that now, at the end of our dates, I don't have to like drop her off at her house and say goodbye, because we live in the same house. I can just turn over to her and say goodnight. And I know that the next morning I get to wake up next to her. When you say yes to following Jesus, you get to spend eternity with Jesus.

And I'm telling you, he is the best friend you could ever ask for. He is the most committed partner you could ever imagine. The best part about following Jesus is getting to be with Jesus. You see, following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life. It's gonna make you more like Jesus, it's about being with Jesus, and following Jesus always involves other people. You see, Jesus called these disciples to follow him, and these disciples who followed him, joined up with a team of other people. When you say yes to following Jesus, you become a part of his family, you become a part of his kingdom. And if you've ever been a part of a family, or any group of people, really, you've probably noticed that you don't always like ask for the people that are in that group.

And you may not always like the people that are in that group, but when you invest deeply in those relationships, you start to discover how much you really need them, and how much they might need you. The same is true when we follow Jesus. When we follow him, he's going to lead us to people who need us to show up in their lives in significant ways. And he's going to bring people into our lives that are going to make an impact that we will never forget. And while I do not have time to go into all of the people who have impacted me greatly since I started following Jesus, I wanna just kind of highlight three of them.

The first is my wife, Mandy, that is her holding our son, Jace, when he was dressed up like Curious George, because that kid loves Curious George. Her and I met at church, we got married at church, we started dating because we were in a Life Group together. And the entirety of our marriage has been focused on serving Jesus in his church. Now, I'm not saying that, if you show up to church every single week, you're gonna find somebody to get married to, but what I am saying is that when you commit to following Jesus, he's gonna bring people into your life that you couldn't imagine doing life without.

The second person is my friend, my leader, and my mentor, Vince Parker. If you've been around at Switch, you have seen him, he is an incredible man of God who has been challenging me to be more of who God's created me to be, to move past some of my self-limiting beliefs, and really embrace the gifting that God's given me.

And then the final person is Stephen Cole, Worship Pastor at Life Church, Edmond. He and I became friends about six years ago, when we started working together at the same Life Church location. And he and I are very, very different in so many ways. Like, we should have like totally butted heads, and not got along, just because of how different we are. But over the last six years, what I've seen is those differences be an absolute gift, because where I'm weak, he's strong, where he's maybe not quite as strong, I might be a little bit stronger, and we've been able to build one another up, to be there for each other when we need it, call each other out, and make each other better. He has been an incredible friend who I would call a brother. And this is the thing that's really special about following Jesus, is that it always involves other people.

Sometimes, you might feel lonely, but I promise you that there is somebody that God wants to bring into your life to help you live out the purpose he's created you for. Because following Jesus is an all-of-life way of life. Following Jesus is gonna make you more like him. It's about being with him. And it always involves other people. Admiring Jesus will never change your life, because it's easy to admire someone from a distance. But following requires you to get close, close enough to know who he really is, close enough to feel and experience his love, and allow his power to change you.

In the coming weeks, we're gonna dive even deeper in to some of the things Jesus said and did, to figure out how we can apply that to our lives to become more like him and do the things that he's asked us. But what I wanna do is kind of close out this message with a story found in Luke, chapter two, about 12-year-old Jesus, to help us understand what was important to Jesus when he was young. So, in Luke chapter two, verses 41 through 52, we read this, that, every year, Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was 12-years-old, they attended the festival, as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn't miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers.

But when he didn't show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later, they finally find him in the temple. And Jesus is sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them, and asking questions. And all the people who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn't know what to think, so his mother asks, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, we've been searching for you everywhere".

And this is how Jesus responds, "But why did you need to search? Didn't you know that I must be in my Father's house"? Now, they didn't understand what he meant, but they returned to Nazareth with him, and he was obedient to them. His mother stored all these things in her heart. Then Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God, and all of the people. 12-year-old Jesus went with his family to the temple. They left, he stayed. And three days later, they finally find him, sitting in the temple, listening, and asking questions. Why? Because, for Jesus, worshiping at church wasn't a hobby, it was a habit.

If you couldn't find him with his family, that's where he would be. For Jesus, talking to God wasn't just one more thing on his list of activities of what he needed to do, it was his priority. And so what I wanna invite you to do, to make Jesus' habits your habits, specifically by worshiping at church, and talking to God.

That means every week, I wanna see you here at Switch on Wednesday night. I want you to be here at church on the weekend with your family, so that you can worship God in the presence of his people. And I wanna invite you to, maybe for the first time ever, begin talking to God, make prayer a habit. It doesn't have to be complicated, it can be an incredibly simple.

And so what I wanna do is actually give you a prayer to pray every day for the next seven weeks as we get closer to Easter. This prayer simply says, "Jesus, give me the faith to go where you go, do what you do, trust what you say, and love how you love. Today, I commit to following you. Amen". Now I want you to pray that with me, you can do it quietly, you can do it in your mind, but right now, we're gonna pray:

Jesus, give me the faith to go where you go, to do what you do, to trust what you say, and to love how you love. Today, I commit to following you. Amen.

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