Support us on Paypal

Mike Novotny - Be You

Mike Novotny - Be You
TOPICS: Trends vs. Truth

So, what do the movies Moana, Mulan, Monsters Inc., The Greatest Showman, Coco, Aladdin, Brave, and Beauty and the Beast all have in common? All of them, if you watch and takes notes, and listen carefully, all of them actually have the same moral, and the same message. And that message is, be you. Like your parents might want you to fit the mold of, you know, what your family does, your culture and your community might have these expectations that you're going to be like this, but if you find something different within your heart, the only way for us all to live happily ever after is if you, be you. If you're true to you, if you're honest with yourself and live out your genuine authentic identity, that is the way the modern world works. Be you.

So, let's take a vote, best message in the universe, worst message in the universe, somewhere in between, everyone give me your vote. Be you, authentically you, live your truth. Good thing, bad thing, middle thing? I got a little bit of everything that I'm looking at right now. It's actually a really good question, right, because you are different than your parents. And you are unique from your neighbors, and what you're good at, what you're bad at, what you're passionate about is distinct from your brothers and sisters. What you find inside your heart isn't the same as what's in your best friend's heart. Where I thrive and where I don't is distinct from you. So, really what should we do when people say, be like this and do this, and we feel something differently, should we give in? Should we submit and be like a, you know, round peg in a square hole? Or should we try to convince someone that we're unique, and we're different, and we're divinely designed in a special way by God.

Should we try to convince our parents, and our friends, and our community, and our culture, and our elders to repent and change their minds, or should we be the ones to do that? It's a tough question. We'll put it another way, when you think about your kids, or your friends, or the president of this country, or your boss, do you want them to just do what they feel? Do you want them to be themselves? It's a bit complicated isn't it? Here's the interesting thing, I've been digging into the Bible trying to examine the number one message of modern times. Because it's not just for little kids watching animated movies and films, this is what we are to, it's the water we swim in, in modern American culture. So, what does God think about, "be you" does he want you to be true to yourself? To look inside and to live that out.

Well, I want you to grab a pen, and if you're watching at home, I want you to grab a pen too, because here's the answer that I found in the Bible that I want to unpack for you today. According to the scriptures, here's what God says, "Be you"! That's my theme for today. "Be You". God says, not with an ellipses, or a period, or a question mark, no put an exclamation point at that. God wants you to be you, and terms and conditions do apply. So, today let's unpack those two parts. How does God say, where does God say, "Be you"? and where does he say, "But let's talk about this first". Let's talk about the first part, "be you" the Bible says. A little embarrassing to admit, but I think to be honest with you, it took me about 35 years to figure out me. You think spending every second of every minute, of every day with myself, I would have come to that conclusion earlier, but it took me a long time to figure out who I am, and who I'm not, what I do well and what I don't, the situations where I'm really a gift to people, and the situations where I'm a curse.

The things that I tend to help people, and the areas where, unintentionally, I tend to hurt people, took me 35 years to figure that out. You know, my first year at this church I was counseling this young woman, scratch that I was attempting to counsel this young woman, and things were not going well. Scratch that things were going about as well as the Titanic's journey across the Atlantic ocean. I was thinking of Bible passages like turning to the right page, reciting them off the top of my head, and it was not the right time for that. In fact, at one point the counseling was so bad, she just looked at me, she shook her head, and she asked, "Pastor, didn't ever have to take a counseling class"? And you should not be mad at her, because if you would've been in the room, you would've been thinking the exact same thing. The answer is, yes I did, yes, I got an A, and it didn't make me a good counselor.

And I've kind of learned over the years that not everyone reaches out to the pastor because they want a chapter and a verse, right. My brain is just instinctively wired to think like, oh, Philippians 4. Oh, Psalm 23. Oh, Romans 8. Oh, boom, boom. That's all I'm thinking in my head, but sometimes people don't want that. Husbands, have you learned this about your wives sometimes, like, sometimes they want advice and sometimes they don't? Sometimes people don't need, like, the right answer from the Bible, sometimes they just need to be understood. They need someone to say, that's terrible. I'm so sorry you're going through that. And I've just learned from my experience that when things are really complex or they're really emotional, I'm really not good at that. I try to be, I want to help people as best I can, it's not like I'm saying, "Sorry, you're out of luck, this is just me".

I want to, but rarely does anyone come back years later and say, "Pastor, you know, when you counseled me through that tough time, you were such a gift". Like no one, no one says that. And so, I'm starting to realize, "Okay Mike, this is you, and this isn't. This is where you should just, like, step up and volunteer, and these are the times where you need to get help, or people are going to get hurt". So, how about you? Have you figured out who you are and who you aren't? As you think back on your own history, can you kinda see those times when you've really helped people, or those times when you frustrated or hurt people? In other words, do you know you? Because God wants you to.

Let me share this amazing passage from Romans 12, it's the apostle Paul, a Christian, writing to an early church, and he says to the members of that church, "For just as each of us has one body with many members," Different parts of your body, your arms, your eyes, your ears. "and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we," the people. "though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have," Here's the big word for today, "different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us". The apostle Paul makes this beautiful analogy that's actually so practical and helpful, and he says, people are like that too. You will not say to a Sumo wrestler, "What do you think about track"? Right, we'd say, "Be you". So here's my big question, who are you? Do you know what David did before he fought the giant named Goliath, right before he picked up those stones and grabbed his sling and ran off to go to war, and drop the giant. This doesn't show up in the kid's Bibles do you know what happened? He decided to be himself.

King Saul, the king of Israel was shaking in his boots, he didn't want to fight the giant, but this little shepherd boy, David, steps forward, "I'll fight him". With faith in his heart. And Saul was thinking, "You're going to die". So he took his armor, the best armor, the royal armor, he put it on David and the Bible actually says, you can read this in 1 Samuel 17, that David starts walking around in Saul's armor, and it doesn't fit, and it doesn't work. And David says to the king, "This isn't me. Like, when I fight, when my flock is in trouble and some lion comes out of the thicket, I don't reach for a sword and a shield, and some shiny armor. I grab a stone and my sling, and I defend my flock".

And so, David took off Saul's armor, he grabbed what he knew, and he ran to fight the giant and the rest is history. So, what should you do? Part one God says, be you. Asterisk. Alright, we're moving to part two. The Bible was emphatic be you, you're uniquely gifted, but there are some terms and conditions that apply. That woman on the Amazon review certainly remembered them. In a research on the topic of Be You, I found out that there was a children's book written not too long ago called, "Be You". Super popular book, it had 1,740 reviews on Amazon when I checked, and a vast, vast majority were 5 stars, huge praise for the encouraging message of this kid's book. In fact, out of 1,740 reviews only three of them were 1 star reviews, harsh critics. And out of those three, two of the three loved the message of the book, just something went wrong with the shipping, and the cover was damaged, whatever which left out of 1,740 reviews, just that one.

Do you want to know what it said? Because I want to tell you. The subject line was, "Delusional View of Human Nature". Here's just a snippet of what this woman said, "I picked up this book knowing that I probably wouldn't like it, but I was hoping that it would surprise me, it didn't. The constant message of 'Be You!' grates upon my soul. Why should you be you with no sense of direction or guidance outside of your own thoughts and feelings? After all, Hitler was true to himself. Hitler followed his dreams. What if you are wrong? What if you are misguided? What if there is information that you don't have, information you will never get, because you are not willing to listen to anything but your own heart? What if, on some days, you are a jerk? It's important for children to have self-esteem, to express their feelings, and maintain a sense of honesty about who they are, but enshrining their feelings as the guide to all goodness is a superhighway to disappointment and relational dysfunction".

Boom. Like, that is so true, isn't it? Be you without any checks or balances, without any terms or conditions, without the asterisk, basically, says, whatever you feel is the most important thing in the world. And that may work okay if you live on an island by yourself, but we don't. As my daughter so, succinctly says it, when I ask her, "Maya, do you think you should be true to your heart"? She says, "Dad, what if my heart wants to punch you in the face"? Don't be you. Have you ever felt something that wasn't true? And that's the apostle Paul in this very same chapter of the Bible, puts an asterisk on his encouragement to be you. Here's what he says in the first verses of Romans 12, starting with verse 2, Paul writes. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".

Let me read that one more time. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Only then you will be able to test and approve," circle this, "what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to each of you". Don't just conform to what the world tells you, "Be you. Be you. Be you". No, instead be transformed. Let God renew your mind, I love this line, because only then can you test and approve what God's will is, what does God want? Because what God wants is good and it's pleasing, and it's perfect. That's why in this metaphor, where Paul says, you're an important part of the body of Christ, guess who is the head of that body? Jesus. We can lose you and be okay, but chop off the head, and the body is dead. So, be you, but just make sure that Jesus comes first.

Now, what does that look like in practice? Let me give you three really practical questions you can ask yourself to make sure you're not stepping over that line, and forgetting the asterisk. First question, am I humble? As I think of what makes me, Mike, different than you, as I kind of figure out, "Well, Pastor Michael is like this, but I'm like this, and my wife's like this and I'm like this, and you're like that. But I'm like this". The big question I have to ask myself, am I maintaining a sense of humility about that? I had a seminary professor who said, "I pray more about my strengths than I do my weaknesses". And I think that's wise. When you have a really, you know, when God gives you a gift and you're really, really good at it, it's really easy to be frustrated with people who just don't do it.

Like, super organized people here, you look around at some of your kids, or your friends, your boss, like, "What is happening? Just clean up, it's not that hard. There's hooks in the closet for the jacket, not here in the middle of the floor. Just do it, it's so easy isn't it"? And some of you, if you had a camera while I was counseling and I'm grabbing my Bible looking for the chapter and the verse, you'd say, "C'mon, Pastor Mike, just be compassionate. Just put a hand on their shoulder and tell them it's going to be", it's so easy isn't it? And extroverts like me, who love people are going to make laps around this church space before the service begins talking to strangers, introducing myself, and if I would say that to some of you introverts, and say, "Just do it, it's easy". You'd say, "It is not easy". Alright so, the big question is when you notice the difference do you have the humility to say, "The only reason this is easy is because God has given me a gift".

It's not like I got my master's degree in mingling, or memorizing. I just, it's me, and you're you. So, when you notice the difference before them temptation makes you frustrated and angry. I have a gift and I get this from God. I'm humble. Question number two, am I selfless? In my opinion this is what most modern movies miss, if this about me, my heart, my dreams, my goals, my self-actualization, or is this about the greater good of people? I do have something to offer to the world and you do too. But can we use that to make sure we're serving other people in love? Here's how I think you can do that. It's selfless when you recognize your gift, and try to do as much of it as you can. In the business world they call this putting the right person in the right seat on the bus, right. So, if you notice something at church, in your family, at work, at school, where, like, that's really easy for you, as often as you can, as much bandwidth as you have fill that. Selflessly serve the people with the gift that you have.

And here's the harder part, if you know you're bad at something, it is on your shoulders to ask for help. You can't throw up your hands and selfishly say, "Well, I'm sorry that's just not me". I can't set people up in our church to say, "I'm not the compassion guy, find someone else". My job is to say, "Okay, how can my lack of strengths not be a liability to this person that God cares about"? If you're not organized, if that doesn't come instinctively to you that's okay, but people are going to suffer by your disorganization unless you have the humility to ask for help. Right, things are going to be rushed, they're going to fall through the cracks, good people are going to be hurt unless you say, "Hey, everyone, like this isn't my jam, can anyone help"?

You have to be selfless enough to ask for it so the body can function as the body needs to function, right? Ears don't need to see, but the need to make sure the eyes are working so, this ends for the good that God wants, instead of the damage that it can cost. Am I selfless? Last question, it's a big one. Am I obedient? As you're looking inside of your heart figuring out how you feel, what drives you, what your passionate about, how you're oriented, what your desires are, the biggest question the Bible wants you to ask is, is this obeying God? Alright, we're going to come back to this in future weeks, as we try to figure out our own hearts. Should I follow my dream? Should I give in to what I find inside? The question the Bible's always asking, is it obedient? Is God cool with it? Like, he doesn't want you to follow your heart, he wants you to follow Jesus.

In the Lord's prayer, he didn't teach us to pray, "Our father in heaven, hallowed be my name, my will be done, and my kingdom come". No, it's about your name, God, it's about your will, that's what matters most at the end of the day. And so, look inside your heart, yes, and then filter what you find there through the Bible so, you make sure you're obedient. That's how you keep the asterisk on, and keep it special, instead of sinful. And this is what makes Jesus so incredible. Big idea for today, "Be You!#*" which is the perfect description of Jesus, isn't it? You ever thought of how unique Jesus was? There's a lot of people who have been human, and Jesus was human, and the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all God, like Jesus is God. But no one has been uniquely God and human in one person, just Jesus.

And his family didn't get that. Remember the part of the Bible that Jesus own mom and his siblings try to take hold of him because he's just being too much himself. "You got to come back home, Jesus, this Messiah thing is getting to be a bit much". He was the unique Son of God, the Father did not die on the cross for you, and the Holy Spirit did not rise on Easter morning for you, only Jesus did that. He had a unique mission, a unique gift, a unique calling from his father in heaven. He unashamedly lived that out, he didn't let the Pharisees, or his own family stop him from being himself. But think about the question was he humble as he did it? Was he selfless? Did he obey his father in heaven?

Let me share one last passage with you. Philippians 2 says, "Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus," So here's what was in Jesus' mind, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross"! Friends the reason why we magnify the name of Jesus, the reason that we follow him isn't because he knew it all, and could do it all, but it's because he used his unique gifts, as the Son of God to serve us, forgive us, and save us.

So that you and I, at the end of every day could know that we are good with God, and that God's not mad or disappointed but instead cherishes us, as his own children. The reason we are Christians is because Christ decided to be you. And it's so beautiful when we do too. It's not easy, but when we get this right, when we humbly, selflessly, obedient, serve, because Jesus inspires us to do so, beautiful things happen. It's not about me, and it's not about you. It's about us lifting our palms to worship the one who saved us from our sin, that's when the church is good, and that is when life is great. So, my brothers and sisters, as you walk out the doors today here's what I want you to know, be you. Amen. Let's pray:

Oh, God, thank you for crafting people, some of us are amazed when we pull out a new phone from it's box, and we just see us something brilliantly designed, can function and bless us. And really unwrapping the layers of a person's gifts, and personality is even more exciting. To see that these people that you made in your image, through Adam and Eve, that you have restored through the blood of Jesus Christ, that the spirit has uniquely gifted. To see who they are and to see them in the spot that you intend them to be, it's not just thrilling for them, it's beautiful for us. God, the Devil loves to mess with good things. I know back in Bible times, and back in our times, there's impatience, and there's selfishness, and there's ego, and there's jealousy so, protect us from all of that. Lead us not into those temptations, but deliver from that evil. That as we work together, we would be humble enough to know that we need each other, that we'll be grateful people who see each other. And that in the end, all of us, together, would lift up our palms, and especially lift up our hearts to recognize Jesus as the head of this church, the most perfect savior, and one that makes us good with you. God, I feel uniquely blessed, working with the people that I work with at this church. I sense that people see it, even if they don't know the names, that you are doing something special here, I see the same at Time of Grace, and so, I pray not just for us, but for every church, for every family for every soul. God help parents recognize this in their children. Help spouses recognize this in one another. God help us to do this well for your glory and for our good. We pray all these things, as unique Christians who gather together as one in Jesus name. it's is in his name that we pray, and God's people say, amen.

Are you Human?:*