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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Growing Up and Back

Levi Lusko - Growing Up and Back

Levi Lusko - Growing Up and Back

So you may be seated. Thank you so much, worship team, we are so glad to have you here with us at Fresh Life this week. Oregon, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, church online family, thank you for being with us. And I have a message I want to give to you from Matthew, Chapter 18. If you have a copy of the scriptures, you can join us there.

It says, "At that time, the disciples came to Jesus saying, who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Then Jesus called a little child to him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes. If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which is lost. What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the 99 and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the 99 that do not go astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.'"

And so Father now as we take a few moments to quiet our hearts around your word, we pray that you would speak to us. Thank you so much for the gift that we have of being able to study your word. And thank you even more for the presence of your spirit right there with us in the room that we're in to help us to understand what you're saying to us through it. We ask that you would draw people to yourself just what Jesus said here at the end that it's not God's will to initiate perish. We pray for that to happen, people to pass from death to life. We also ask, God, for those of us who already have come to know you for you to speak something new to us, cause there to be a new awareness, a quickening, an acceleration in what you've called us to. I pray all these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

From this passage, I want to give to you a message that I'm calling, Growing Up and Back, Growing Up and Back. I was thinking this week about a memory I hadn't thought about it in so long. But I was with a bunch of my siblings, and my parents, and just all the nostalgia kicks in. It was really amazing. And we were sitting around, of course, as you do tell all these old stories. And it occurred to me that I had fallen off a bunk bed as a child, and it was the first significant injury of my life. It wasn't any old bunk bed, though, it was a triple level bunk bed in a basement. And we were staying at this rented condo, and it had a subfloor and we were, I was sleeping down in the basement. It was the coolest thing in the whole world to be on a triple bunk bed, right? Here's the craziest part to me. Like thinking back on the memory, I was like fact checking myself with my siblings. And they're like absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. It was a triple level bunk bed with a cement floor under the thinnest carpet you've ever seen in your life. And there was no guardrail, right?

So I don't know what my parents were thinking letting me sleep on this, but what I do remember it being like this big like altercation with my siblings as to who got to sleep on the top bunk. And I won somehow, and congratulations. That was the reward. Somehow in the middle of the night, I roll over and I just do a swan dive off of this third level bunk bed, and I smack into the concrete floor hard enough to shatter my nose and break my arm. And here's the crazy part. I don't remember that at all. But I do remember crawling, desperately crawling trying to get up to where my parents were sleeping several levels above us, because it was, the kitchen, there was like the flight of stairs to the garage, flight of stairs to the kitchen, then another flight of stairs to where they were at. And I made it to two of the flights of stairs, but then passed out in a pool of my own blood on the stairs.

And so they come down to wake us up to go skiing in the morning, and they find me on the stairs like at the landing in between the levels, passed out, just had bled so much blood out. I'm like holding my wounded baby bird arm. I'm a fifth grader, you all, and I'm holding my arm. I'm like completely out just sleeping, mouth breathing, which I have been ever since then, by the way. And anyhow, they wake me up and, of course, take me to the emergency room. And they put my arm in a cast and did whatever they could do to my nose, which if you've ever wondered why I have a crooked nose, you're welcome.

Now, you know. This is the story. But the best part of all is they did what they could to clean the blood up, which tracked, by the way, all the way down the stairs, all the way to the basement to this below the bunk bed. And when we checked out of it, my dad was telling me the funniest part was the day after the company called him as the contact number on this reservation, were like, what did you do in this rental house? Like what in the heck, it looked like just a murderous crime scene, pool of blood dragged up the stairs, like they were dragging the body away. But the funny thing about this story to me is that it's like a fond memory for me. Like talking about it, it just makes me laugh. It was my first significant interaction with pain. I had never broken a bone before that. I broke a lot of bones after that, by the way. My brothers and I just rotated broken bones and casts for the next like five or six years.

One of my parents recently ran into the orthopedic surgeon from the city that I grew up in, and he said, thank you, I want to thank you. Your family put my kids through college, right? So lots of casts, lots of broken bones. But the funny thing to me about this, even though it's the first time I ever ended up in a cast, the first time I remember going to the emergency room, the first time I had a significant incident like this take place in my life, it's a fond memory because I remember still being very much in the thick of childhood at this time. I still remember very much the Camelot era of childhood still being maintained in this moment. But it would soon thereafter find the bubble bursting. I would soon thereafter discover some of the pain and difficulty and the turmoil that comes when you sort of see your childhood sort of come to an end, and you start to really experience the challenging years of adolescence. And if you never have listened to my story at all, and we've never had the chance to talk, I've shared a lot about how middle school for me, like for most Americans, just is some of the worst time in your life that you could possibly live through, survive through.

And studies and surveys have shown that more Americans than any other point to the middle school years as being like a time, just a challenge, and difficulty, and just figuring out what's going on. I would say coming of age, except I didn't start doing that till high school. So that was no coming of age. It was, and that was part of the challenge. Everyone started getting their growth spurts. Puberty was kicking off like Mexican jumping beans. And I'm just sitting there like, where's my, when's my bean going to jump. It wasn't happening. My bean wasn't jumping, man. And it's funny, the girls, they eventually start getting armpit hair and they shave it off right away. I would say that you guys are crazy because what I wouldn't have done for armpit hair in the sixth grade. I'm like in the gym like always keeping my arms down, like pretending I have armpit hair. It's just challenging. And when I think back, it's not the cast from the broken arm that I think back as a hard time in my life and a hard season in my life. I think about a lock in my hand. This triggers more than anything. Like when I think about like when I was first given a lock.

First of all, figuring out how to open up one of these. But then just the fifth grade was so understandable. Like I was assigned a color based on my reading group, and I was a really fast reader. And I was really excited about jumping off swings at recess, like that was a big deal, until I broke an arm jumping off the swing set at a birthday party, which was my birthday party, by the way. That one did sting a little bit because they took me to the hospital to get the bone set and they ate the cake without me. And no one thought to save me a piece, right? This isn't therapy hour. I'm just telling you. But the nice thing about fifth grade and fourth grade and third grade is you're just sitting in one class all day. But sixth grade, it's like every hour, like everything's just changing, and you're having to move around. And it's so difficult. And many of you around the country, you've taken your students to first, the jumpstart day and first day of school. And if not, it's coming for you in the next couple of weeks.

And I just remember like, OK, I've got five minutes in between classes when the bell, to get over here. Spend half the time trying to figure out how to get this thing open to get the books out. And it was in that era that I began to experience bullying, and all these things, and the instability that began to set in with some home life things that were happening. And all of that just caused there to be this sense that what was safe and what was predictable and what was home and what was normal was all sort of topsy-turvy. I'm being exposed to drugs, and I have friends who are turning to drinking to deal with whatever's going on in the inside. And the whole girl thing, all of this, the period in my life where this was in my hand every day. This was a time when it was really significantly challenging. And the safety of what was a relatively wonderful childhood has, had come to an end.

Now, Jesus here is addressing these. Not falling off a bunk bed, of course, but he is pointing us back to the period of childhood to understand how we can find what we're looking for in life. And it's all in response to his disciples asking him a significant question. And the question was, how do we become the greatest in your kingdom? What does it take to be the greatest? Now, what's interesting is that Jesus isn't offended at this question. You might think that Jesus was like, how dare you ask such a question. Why would you want to be the greatest? You should all want to be last and have to eat Grape Nuts for breakfast. Like as though like he has, he has no love for a competitive nature, or a sugar tooth, right? Like that's just what we think about Jesus. But I think Jesus smiled when asked the question. I think Jesus loves the idea, the inside of all of us, there is a sense that we want to be great.

If you have it in your heart to do something wonderful, if you have it in your heart to be the greatest at something, I'm telling you something, that doesn't offend God at all. Because what we know about Jesus is that he did things when he did them with all of his heart. I mean, there's only one incident in the Bible where we actually see Jesus making something. Although, we know he spent the first 30 years of his life doing so, because he was a carpenter. But the one time he made something that wasn't a furniture, or a piece of furniture, it was actually wine. And the Bible says that the wine that he made was so good that people were marveling, because it was the best wine any of them had ever tasted. He was the greatest at making wine when he did that. So we can imagine that as he made furniture, and as he did all the things that he did, of course, the sermons that he preached, he did so as the greatest and he put inside of you to be great at whatever he's called you to do, as well.

So the problem isn't the fact that the disciples want to be the greatest. The problem is that they actually don't want to be the greatest. They just want to be greater than each other. That's really what they mean here. And we can understand and piece it together based on the actual context. We read Matthew 18, but just before this, we're not given all the details, but Mark's gospel lets us know that before this happened, there have been a significant conversation, and it went like this. Jesus leaves the region traveling through Galilee, Mark 9, Verse 30, didn't want people to know he was there because he was trying to be sneaky like. Verse 31, "he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them". So he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but in three days later," three days later, "he will rise from the dead".

By the way, time out, huge moment. This is the first time he has very explicitly told the disciples about the crucifixion. So he didn't want the crowd around just yet. He was going to trust this news, this information, to his disciples. So he just pulls them apart. He's like, hey, this just a super DL, but I am going to die. I'm going to die on the cross, but don't worry about it. I'm going to raise from the dead three days later. Huge information, no one knows this yet, so just, it's a really big deal. All right. So they're like, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, except Verse 32, they didn't understand what he was saying, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant. So they keep walking. They walk and they're like, hum, yes, uh-huh, uh-huh. No one knows what he's talking about or why he would say such things because that was not what they had in their mind the Messiah was going to do. They just thought the Messiah was going to make their life better and kick out the Romans, and they would get to be a part of his team and on the winning side of things, right?

So they don't understand why he would say he would die and what the significance of that would be, but they're too afraid to ask him. So they keep walking. Verse 33, this is so important, they arrive at Capernaum. They settle into a house. The disciples all fight over who gets which bunk bed. I get it. I get it. And Jesus asked them, hey, what were you discussing out there on the road the rest of the way after I told you about the cross and how I'm going to die a painful bloody death? What are you talking about on the road? Verse 34, but they didn't answer because they had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. So he sat down the disciples, called them over to him, and said, "Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else". That's what it actually means to be the greatest.

And in response to that, we have to now bring ourselves back to Matthew, Chapter 18, when one of the disciples raised their hand and says, Yeah, but how do we do that? How do we be the greatest? But we now have at least the full emotional scope of the story, because in their mind, the question is not about, how does Peter be the best Peter he can be? How does James be the best James he could be? How does John do what only John can do? But they're looking at each other and saying, how do I one of Him, how do I be a better apostle than Peter? You see, the problem here isn't the question that they're asking. It's the ambition that's fueled by comparison and pretension. They see themselves as being a better apostle than the person to their left and to their right. And so they're way off track, not because they're asking the wrong question, but it's, because it's coming from the wrong place of motivation.

And so to peel this back and to address it and get them on the right track, he calls over a child. And there's a kid somewhere. There's always kids around. He just grabs one of these kids like, hey, you, come over here. I need to borrow you for a quick minute. Pulls this child in and sets him down and says, if you want to know what it looks like to be the greatest in my kingdom, you have to become like one of these. Now, to be a grown person becoming now like a child would suggest that you had grown up in the first place. But the problem Jesus is trying to address is the fact that his disciples had not done that at all. Somehow they had become possessing grown men bodies but still being little boys on the inside. And this is the obvious tension of this message. To say that victory in God's kingdom looks like becoming a little child, it's being childlike. We also have in scripture clear teaching that God doesn't want any of us to be childish.

1 Corinthians: 13, 11 puts it very explicitly when it says, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things". And so there is a sense in which God wants us all to grow up. They were being immature here, and not, I mean, think about it. That's the gravity of Jesus telling them, I'm going to die for all of you and for the sins of the world, and then being like noted, but I'm better than you. Like immediately, and not even taking a quick smoke break before they begin immediately thinking about themselves, shows that they were still looking at things completely selfishly, only insofar as it involved them. And so we cannot very well come back to childlike state if we never left it in the first place. That's why I think that we need to grow up and come back. Grown up and back, that's what God wants for us.

So what does it mean to grow up? What are the ways in which we are to leave childish things? I made a little list, and it's that we need to learn responsibility. Children have a hard time with that. They have to be taught that. You have to sort of get past the childishness to learn how to shoulder responsibility, to commit to something, and to be able to finish what you started. To be responsible, to be able to look after things and take care of them. To leave childish things means to learn impulse control. A child feels something and does it. I was talking to our babysitter the other day and she was crying. And I said, what's the matter? And she says, Linux punched me in the nose. And I said, why? And she said, I don't know. We were having a great time. And I asked him, I said, why, honey, why did you punch her in the nose? And he said, I don't know, either. And I believe him. He really didn't understand it. Everyone was having a snack and then he punched her, and then he thought he would have another snack. He just didn't, he had the impulse and he acted on how he was feeling without processing it through a grid called, should I do this?

Now, that's kind of cute when you're four. It's not really cute when you're 40, when you have the impulse to haul off and hit somebody, or to get into a fight in a parking lot, or just to, that you feel something without being able to process it through a grid called, should I do this, without just acting on every impulse. It's not cute when you're 40. How about regulating when triggered, when something triggers you, being able to regulate, being able to bring yourself down. That's a part, learning to figure out what it is for your unique makeup that's going to bring you back down from a triggered state. That's a part of the maturing process, or it should be. Having difficult conversations, being able to say to somebody, that hurt my feelings. And notice I said, say to somebody, not say to 1,200 some buddies that follow you on Twitter, or to every other person in your life, or to ignore them completely. But then to be completely mad at them and harboring that on the inside, and then be passive aggressive about that.

And part of the maturing process is being responsible enough to say to someone, that hurt me. That upset me. This confused me. And to have those difficult conversations using your words. Responding to disappointments is a part of maturing. Learning to grow up and putting away childish things means at times you're not going to get your way and having to process that, process that in a healthy way. And then, as well, living up to your relational commitments sacrificially. That's a part of growing up. Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to, at every marriage ceremony, he would do, include in the vows at some point as he would go through the process of marrying the couple, he would say some version of this to the couple. He would say, today, you are young and very much in love, and you think that your love will sustain your marriage. It won't. But your marriage can sustain your love. A part of the maturing process is to not be dependent in an unhealthy way on feelings to where you need to feel something in order to fulfill a vow, or an oath.

And I think a danger in our age, in our culture, if there is one, is a sense of sort of over entitled to good feelings, and perhaps it comes from being coddled, or whatever it comes from. But to be at a place where you can just walk away from something the moment relationally, or job, or any sort of commitment at the moment, it's not fun and is now the fun that it did at the beginning. So growing up is learning to be able to do the hard things, and to believe for the feelings to follow as a gift on the back end, but not need them in your relationship with God, or in anything, to be the validation that you're on the right track. So all those things are just a way to say, yes, there are some things that we do need to put aside in order to grow up. But the disciples are being told, we got to grow up and come back. We got to come back.

There's some things to childhood that we abandoned to our detriment. Childlikeness must be fostered. And he says, it's the only way to experience the kingdom of heaven, which is pretty bold language. Like, you guys, you guys want to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Well, just so you know, you can't even get into it if you're not like a child. So that sort of means it's important. What that means then is that you can't enter the upside down kingdom using right side up wisdom. And the wisdom that they were employing was, if I rise higher, if I get taller than Peter, if I do more than James, if I can one up, then that means I'm the best. But that's not how God's kingdom works. It works, he said, by being like a child. We all have to be born again into God's kingdom, and to learn that its rhythms are different than the rhythms of our culture and what comes naturally to us in our fallen state. So in what ways are children in the perfect mode to watch God work in their lives? In what ways are our kids the example for us then? I found in the text looking at it six different things from comparing children to what we are in our natural state that we need to foster.

First of all, there's a dependence to kids. There's a dependence. Kids need everything, especially when they're first born. They can't do anything for themselves. I mean, baby giraffes walk like the first day that they're born. Baby horses, they're doing the same thing, they're running around. Baby kids take years to be able to do anything for themselves. It's really embarrassing, honestly, if you think about it. But children are totally reliant on their parents to provide for them. And God wants us to approach him like that. And that completely rubs us the wrong way, because we want to be able to be sufficient. We want to be able to take pride in our accomplishments, to feel like I can muster myself up and I've done, as we said last week, all the good deeds that I need to do to climb my way up the ladder so now God is pleased with me. But it's completely opposite. God wants us to be dependent on us like a newborn is on its parents.

Jesus said in John, Chapter 15, Verse 5, "I am the Vine. You are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing". So God wants you as you approach the difficulty be it this next school year, or the job, or a challenging relationship, or something hard in your personal life that you're facing, to have that mentality that doesn't just say, I'm going to muscle this up. I'm going to muster up the courage. I'm just going to try harder. But a sense that you say, God, I am weak. I need your help. I cannot do this on my own. That's the power of worship. That's the power of dependence, that every time you raise your hands up to God in song, and in worship, what you're doing is you're declaring you are worthy and I need you. I need your help. I'm like a child in my father's arms, in my mother's arms. I need you to sustain me. I need you to give me the strength to do what I'm going to do.

Jesus said that he modeled for us a dependence on the Father. He said, I only do what the Father calls me to do. I only say what the Father called me to say. He lived completely dependent on God's approval, on God's care, on God's power through him. And in that way, we should be like little kids, dependent on our Father. The second word I wrote down is the word identity, identity. You see, kids have an identity, unlike adults, that comes from only their relationship with their parents. And that's where it begins. Kids don't have an identity based on possessions. Kids don't have an identity based on accomplishments. They have only the love that they've been given in a perfect situation, right? Obviously, there's lots of kids that grow up without that.

And what I'm talking about, of course, is the ideal case scenario. But where a child has a mom and a dad that loves him, that little boy, that little girl, is going to have the sense of safety and wellness and wholeness. And you'll never talk to that kid and have them be like, you don't have four-year-olds who are like, I'm OK because I have $87. Like that's not where the sense of worth comes from. That's not where the validation comes from. And I have a, I have a Hot Wheels bike. That's pretty much filled the hole inside my soul. Like that's where I feel like I'm strong from. Like you just think back to that, you didn't worry about the brands that you wore as a little kid. You're not thinking about those things. You have to be told that it matters what you wear. You have to be told that it matters how expensive your house was. You don't, at three years old, wonder about square footage. There's just a sense of where's my mom? Where's my dad? Like there's a sense of relational love that fuels the identity, that gives that strength, that helps you develop what you need to develop in life.

We have to learn that we're not enough. We have to be told that we're not enough. So before that, there's no sense or trace of what do I have to do to make you like me? There's this almost like surprise that anybody wouldn't like you, because you were given the love, you were given the support to develop an identity as a person. And now all of a sudden, you find out, that's what I discovered with the lock in my hand, that there's boys that are taller than me, and there's a sense that I'm being made fun of. There's a sense that labels are being put on me. So now, there's this, well, I need to change who I am to be enough for you to like me. And that identity of a child that's loved by a parent is what God wants for us to get back to, the sense that we don't derive who we are from what we have, or what we've accomplished, that those things don't change who we are in God's eyes. That whatever he calls us to do, great, I'm happy to be your servant. Whatever God wants to do through our lives, amazing, I'm just happy to be his kid. I'm just happy to be his child.

This is always what Jesus was trying to get the disciples to see. When he sent them out on a successful mission trip, they came back so excited because they had successfully cast a demon out. And they were like, Jesus, we told the demon to leave and he listened. And he's like, bro, I saw the devil fall from heaven like lightning. You think that's impressive? Like I got, yeah, it's awesome. He goes, just be happy and thankful that your names are written in heaven. Translation, you have a home. You have a father. You have love. That should be enough for your identity. If that's the case, then whatever he wants you to do, whatever he, if he calls you to drive out a billion demons, amazing. If he calls you to plant 50 churches, if he calls you to start 20 businesses, if he lets you be a steward over an amazing company and lots of resources, fabulous. But don't make the mistake of attaching your identity to what you wear, or to what you do, or to what you drive, or to what you own. All those things can come, and all those things can go, but none of those things are enough to anchor your life on.

If you want an anchor, let it be this, you have a father, and he loves you, and nothing can change that, and nothing will stop that. Be like a kid and let your identity be driven from relationship and not from anything else. Kids, also, they have tremendous imagination. That's our third word. If we want to become like little kids, Jesus said it has to start in the way we think. You see, he uses the phrase, you must be converted and become like little children. Now, he's talking to his disciples, who clearly already believe in him. And so what is he talking about? Not the conversion of salvation, he's talking about the conversion that comes from him changing the way you approach life and how you think. In fact, another translation of the word converted literally says, dramatically change your way of thinking.

So approach things differently. There's a very different way that adults think about things and kids think about things. Kids just look at life with imagination. They look at a couple sticks and now it's an amazing creation that they can make. You have to learn to be an adult to think in terms of only practicalities and where we need to go, and what we need to accomplish. For a kid, life is full of wonder, and there's just a sense of excitement brimming over at what are we going to get to make, and what are we going to get to do, and what's this over here? And it's just, there's nothing more fun than talking to a two-year-old. Like, what's that? I don't know. I mean, you just get this pure reaction. It's, and what Jesus is saying, you need to start thinking about things like that. You need to, once again, think about life in my kingdom, not just in terms of how much clout you have and how impressive you are, and are you better than each other? But just get back to that joy and that imagination of wonder, and of love, and of believing that you can do things that are impossible if I give you power.

You see, for adults who are too grown up, we get to a place where we need to understand everything intellectually. We need to be able to control things. But kids have a faith that doesn't require sight. So we need to come back to a place of being wide-eyed with wonder, of waking up every day believing that God has a mission for us, he's going to provide for us, we don't have to worry about it. He has things that he wants us to do, and to believe for impossible things to be done. Authenticity is the fourth. It's incredible, really, how bad kids are at lying, like terribly bad. They're just, they're really good at pretending, but really bad at deceiving. Now, tragically, they get better at it as they get more experience, and they don't have to be taught to do that. That comes just from the sinful nature. But there is a sense in which there's just not angles. Kids don't have like this big agenda, and they're working the system. When they're really young, there's just a pureness to their heart. And what you see is what you get. There's no like pretending, like they don't know that they need to impress you.

And so if they're not interested, they just, they just tune out. They just not listening anymore. It's like, well, that's all that I've wanted to hear about that. And there's just a sense in which you really find out what they're thinking, and what they're going through for good or for bad. And that's what God wants from us. At some point along the way, we started to put on those nice faces. How's things going? Oh, wonderful, doing really well. Because we have to keep up these appearances and these airs of pretension, and I want to present my life to you this way. But to be like a child is to be authentic. Here's really what's going on. Here's what happened. I don't know, man, I stubbed my toe and it is really driving me crazy. Like a kid'll just tell you that. And God wants us to be that honest with him and that real and not humble before him. The fifth thing is height. If we want to become like little kids, the big problem is that we're way too tall, too tall in a lot of senses of the word. Yes, he talked to this child. I don't see Jesus talking like this. I see Jesus down on his knees talking to this child like this.

And I think this is really what he was getting at. You see, Peter, James, and John were all trying to be taller than each other. I walked on water. Mom, can you go talk to Jesus? He'll listen to you. See if we can get the best seats in the kingdom, right? They're just trying to get taller than each other. What Jesus realize is you guys are all trying to be so tall. What you need to do is get down on a smaller level, a level where it's impossible to get stuck up because you're so busy stooping down. Where you have that in your heart, where you have that in your spirit where you're seeking to serve each other and to take care of each other, you won't be trying to network. How do I get my name out there, and what can you do for me? And if I do this, and, no, you're not important. I want to talk to that person over there because they can open up doors for me and they have resources. And we're looking at a crowd of people scanning who can I get a favor from, who can I be seen with? Like the way that humanity has learned to look at things, to play the game, to be at the right table at lunch, to be seen with these people, tagged in this photo, have this person like my photo, and to have that that is somehow going to make up for some deficiency on the inside of us.

That's what Jesus saw his disciples, his squad, and if it happened to them, it could happen to us. It's happening all the time. We're always struggling this. No, with this, no one gets to graduate past this. As long as we're on this Earth, we're going to be dealing with this sense of I need to make up for something inside of me by being enough in someone's eyes. And Jesus said, that's not what it's supposed to be like. He said, as you're looking down on people, that's because you're at the wrong elevation. You got to get lower. And I love what he says, that person that maybe can't do anything for you, that guy over here you're tempted to snub, or ignore, or not look in the eyes and take a moment with and talk to, that's a person who has an angel assigned to them in Heaven who is standing before God. It's the most unbelievable thing he says. He says, every single person you talk to and work alongside and that means you, as well, so, because don't forget, you're a child, too, has an angel in heaven standing before God. A person you would be tempted to despise or look down on or want to feel like you're superior to, they have angels that are always seeing the face of my Father in heaven. And what a beautiful thought. The Bible says that God assigns angels to look out for us and to take care of us. The notion of a guardian angel is completely something within the pale of scripture.

Hebrews Chapter 1, Verse 14 says, "angels are only servants, spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation". And so angels, they are, they're doing God's work, and we can't see them. But again, that's just, that's an invitation to a life of wonder, of remembering, like I know it's hard at work and I know this. But God's there and he's sending angels to do battle. And I'm not alone, and I'm here. It's that sense of all that I can see is not all that there is, there's more that's happening, and God is for me and with me. And so the people that he wants me to love and show love to and that I feel like I want to have this like weird energy of I'm better than them, I'm, we can actually learn to have sympathy for them, and compassion for them. And even the ones who are treating us the worst and doing all these things, no doubt there's something inside of them that's causing them to act that way.

And so the remembering, he says of, oh, these are actually people that God loves, who he wants to see themselves as his children, who have guardian angels, this will cause me to maybe sort of change the way that I treat people. Because kids don't naturally do that. They don't rank and assess. None of the kids that got dropped into the three-year-old's classroom are looking in like, I don't know, that's a knock off, that's the firebrand. I don't like that. There's no sense of can this person do this for me and open these doors for me? They're just, hey, how are you doing? That's a nice red shirt. I have a red one, also, right? It's like there's just a beautiful sense of they're all on the same level. And that's what God wants us to see. All of us, each of us on the same level, all made by him, all loved by him, all imperfect, all with gifts, all meant to be used. The last word I wrote down is the word innocence, innocence. There's a sense in which a child is innocent. And that, of course, gets ruptured and gets changed and it gets harmed.

I brought my little assistant out. Thanks for being part of the sermon, buddy. This is Lennox. Everyone, say, hi, Lennox. How are you doing, buddy? Good. I love you. I love you. What'd you have for lunch today? I didn't have any. Yeah, it's a little early for that. We'll get to that. Hey, figure things I got to do. Hey, I love you. I love you. Did I already tell you that? Yeah, I did. Hey, let's come down here. I was thinking about how with Lennox there's a great sense for me of a desire to protect just the innocence and the naivete of being a child, and the wonder and the imagination and the fun. And the reason I wanted you to see him was because I wanted to sort of make this, that I'm about to say, personal. Because there's literally nothing in the whole world that I wouldn't do for you, buddy. Not a single thing, you know that? All right. Get out of here. I love you so much. Thanks for coming. All right.

So if you think about yourself as a child, and God as your Father, I think positions you to understand some of the crazy things he says a few versus later about a millstone being cast into the sea with you tied to it, and chopping off a hand, and plucking out an eye. Because for me, the greatest priority for the longest time possible is to protect that childlike innocence of him being four, and mom loves him, and dad loves him, and his sisters love him, and God loves him, and that's enough. And what's for sandwich? I don't know. What's for lunch? I don't know. The sandwich will just probably show up magically. And we're working on, don't punch your babysitter in the nose, like it's important. But what I would do to protect his innocence, what you would do for your child, that's how God wants you to, how seriously God wants you to take it to guard and fight for the God-given greatness inside of every single person you interact with. Because he sees every child, he sees every person with the love that I have for Lennox.

And I think we get that now. I think sometimes we forget that. But when it snaps into place, you go, that's right. That's right, for other people. For the person you're mad at, maybe you can get that. God loves that person like I love Lennox. But do you love yourself like I love Lennox? Because if you think about what a parent would do, that what is that mama bear instinct? Do anything. And the thought of my child being hurt, like you had better throw me into the lake with a millstone attached to my neck if I find out you've done something to my child. Like there's that mama bear instinct in all of us. But then Jesus says, but what about you? What if you were doing something that was going to hurt you and harm you, you see? Because here's the thing, all this that we're trying to foster, the sense of wonder, the sense of it, of innocence, the sense of the height and all those things, sin separates us from our God-given greatness. When we tolerate sin in our lives, when we harbor sin in our hearts, what it does is is it pulls us away and ages us prematurely.

We were never meant to become so busy, so bossy, so broken. And the sin that we hang on to ages us and pulls us away from being the little kids in God's kingdom that he can work through in such incredible ways. GK Chesterton once said that God "has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we". Sin in our own lives pulls us away from that childhood innocence and locks us out of what God wants our life to be like. So the hyperbole of it would be better to chop a hand off, I think, is God inviting you to actually love yourself like he loves you. So much that when you're hanging on to things that are aging you and devastating to your spiritual journey, he wants you to be so relentless about dealing with it that it would be like what any one of us would do for our three or four-year-old child.

I mean, goodness, Tabasco, our poodle, locked himself in our car the other day with the keys inside of it. Little idiot, right? He hit the little lock button, locked the, and man, we were like, OK, how hot is it out? How long has it been? And we were kind of dicey. Like someone got the spare key and we got him out pretty quickly. But I'm telling, if that was, if that was Lennox in there, if that was, if it was one of my kids in there, any one of us would have gotten a rock and smashed that window open. Forget about it. God loves you that way, and he wants you to love yourself that way. So much so that when you're nursing grudges, and when you're hating yourself because you're seeing everyone else's fake life on social media, God wants you to pluck that eye out and cut that hand off, because it's keeping you from the version of yourself that he sees you inside as being able to become. So will you love all God's other children like he loves them? Hopefully, with his help. But it begins by us being willing to love ourselves enough to humble ourselves when like Peter, we're tempted to think, if I can be greater, then I'll be enough, and cover up some deficiency on the inside that's locking me out for my God-given greatness.

I was thinking about how so many times in life it's hard, you're like, I'm trying to open the lock, I'm trying to open the lock. But what I remember about these things is you can't get to the combination being opened until you first go past it. You have to turn past the number you start with, do a couple of revolutions. You can't get straight to the number. You've got to go past it. And so here we sit at a place where we've, many of us gone past the childhood days, the childhood innocence. And so how do we get back? Jesus is showing us how. It came from the only one who fits the criteria of this text. The question that the disciples asked was, who is the greatest? And what Jesus effectively said is, only the one that's, the only one that can be the greatest is whoever came the lowest. And that tells us that this text, while it's showing us what God's calling us to, is ascribing any one of us. Because none of us can say, even if we humble ourselves tomorrow and love the unlovable in our lives, and are kind to people who are jerks to us, none of us can say that we came down the lowest.

But Jesus, who being God in heaven, was willing to come to this world and take on human form, he became the one who was highest, who came down the lowest. He condescended and laid aside his glory, became a person, became one of us, so that he could die for us on the cross in our place, like he told the disciples, so that he could raise from the dead on the third day. And he who is the greatest became the lowest, became like a child for us, so that we could walk in lives like a child in his kingdom, in his hand, seeing every single person we encounter as someone that He's called us to help them become who he intends them to be. Alivia and I were on an airplane, and I'll close with this. And when we were getting off, we were listening to the flight attendant talk to the gate agent. And there's always a conversation once the doors open.

And one of the things they always ask is they, at the gate, will say to the flight attendant, are there any specials? Any specials means, is there any wheelchairs that need to get brought to the plane? Is there anybody who's an unaccompanied minor who needs to be assisted? Besides all the people who are going to file off with their roll aboard suitcases and backpacks and water bottles and, yes, still masks, is there anybody special who needs assistance? Is there anybody who we're going to need extra attention to be given to? And normally, the lady will say one or two or three, or whatever the case may be that was indicated ahead of time on the paperwork. But this lady was amazing. When the woman said to her, are there any specials? She said, yes, every single one of them. You just immediately felt like crying. And I just love that perspective that God is inviting us to see every single person we're going to encounter. Are there any specials? Yes, every single one.

And so, Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the quiet beauty inside each person listening to this message. All of us have experienced pain, and trauma, and difficulty. Not all of us had a childhood that taught us the safety and security of love. But we all are perfectly loved by you. And so I thank you so much that you are calling us all to set aside some childish things. But more importantly, you're calling us all to return to childlike ways. The simplicity and trust of knowing we have a Father who's taking care of everything. So we don't have to worry about tomorrow. We don't have to change anything in ourselves to be loved by you. We can just trust you and follow you. Thank you, God, that you truly do have our best in mind.

And if as we're praying if something in this message has touched you in a deep way, and you just need to respond to say there's some childish things, I need to, I need to set aside, or perhaps there's some childlike ways in which I need to accept what the Spirit's doing in my life today, could I just ask that you would just in the presence of the Holy Spirit just raise up a hand to let God know you're doing work in my heart.

You're taking me back. You're healing me. You're making me stronger. You're making me brave. Just even to say that this love is flooding into my heart. I accept it. Thank you, God. Thank you, God, for what you're doing. Bless these, heal these. Every single part of their journey has been seen by you. You've watched all of our wanderings. You've seen us every time we've fallen asleep. Every tear we've ever shed has happened under your gaze, Holy Spirit. I thank you that you're bringing us to a new beginning, new mornings, new mercies, that we don't have to compare ourselves amongst ourselves. We can stoop low, receive love, and give love.

You can put your hands down. I want to now invite anybody today who is listening to this message, and you've never made a faith decision to give your heart to Jesus, that's where it begins. The Bible says, you must be born again. How can you ever become like a child in God's kingdom if you don't experience that new birth? Your sins were paid for by the one who came low. His name is Jesus, and his death on the cross, and his victorious resurrection from the grave, it has the power to change everything for you, both forever in heaven, but also here on Earth. And so if you're listening to this message and you've never opened your heart up to Jesus, perhaps one of our locations we're watching online, this is your moment. Now, is the time. Let's pray together. I'm going to ask the church family to pray with us. But I want you to say this out loud to God after me, and He will hear you.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. Please come into my heart, make me new. I give myself to you in Jesus' name.

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