Steven Furtick - Why Do You Push People Away?
Everybody wants to get back to normal. Let's get back to normal for a minute. Adam and Eve are naked in a garden, and they can eat anything they want, and they don't have to Uber Eats it or DoorDash it. It's just there, and that was normal. Some of us are so used to scarcity that abundance doesn't even feel normal to us, and when God brings it, we reject it because we've never known it before. Deeper. God will send someone to love us, but if they love us too much we will push them away, because we are not used to receiving fully. So we do what Adam and Eve did. Do you remember what they called the tree? The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of the knowledge.
Do you remember what the snake told Eve? He said, "If you eat it, you'll be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil". Y'all, they didn't get in trouble because God didn't like apples; they got in trouble because they lost focus. Of all of the things God had given them to eat… Of all of the choices God has given us… We have a choice how we spend this time. You made a good one today. You know all the crap you could be watching on YouTube, and you're in church. Give yourself a clap hand emoji right now just to thank God. "I made a good choice today, a quality choice today. I'm going to plant myself by streams of water this week, not by stagnant ponds of misinformation and speculation. I'm going to plant myself today. I'm getting my roots right".
That's what Holly said to me. She was going to the beauty shop. Remember beauty shops? She said, "I'm going to get my roots right". Put it in the chat. "I'm getting my roots right. That's what I'm doing today". I'm getting my roots right. I'm getting my mind right. I'm getting my belief system right. I'm getting my priorities right. I'm finding out what really matters right now. I'm going to do it in this prison cell. I'm going to see something. God is going to show me something. The gospel is going to advance through this season. We're getting our roots right. Yet Adam and Eve wanted to know. They wanted to be God. Our need to know is what keeps us from receiving. That's what was so bad about that tree. Nobody even knows what fruit they ate. I hope it was delicious, because it really was expensive. Eve had to put her clothes back on. Just imagine how it could have been.
I called this message, option number three: "When Naked Was Normal". Adam and Eve just walking around, nothing to hide. It is what it is. We are who we are. We're loved by God. We walk with him in the cool of the evening. We pluck what we want anytime we want. Naked was normal. Didn't have to hide behind fig leaves. Didn't have to create a covering. Didn't have to create a persona. Didn't have to create a pretension of good behavior and pretend to be somebody you're not. Didn't have to try to bear somebody else's fruit with plastic so you could be impressive to get people to like you. Just walking around because God made me, because God breathed in me, because I am who God says I am. When naked was normal.
Now it's more normal for us to hide, cover ourselves, compare ourselves. The first thing God asked Adam is the thing I want to ask you today. When Adam felt the shame… Remember, shame is what makes you cover. Shame is what makes you shrink. Shame is what makes you pull back. Shame is what makes you believe, "Well, maybe I'd better not try". Shame is what makes you start staying up in the middle of the night, thinking, "Maybe it's all going to catch up with me". Christ died to take away my shame.
The first thing Adam did when he believed a lie was to hide, and God said, and I want to say, "Who told you that you were naked"? Who told you that you had to do something else or be something else or have something else? Who told you that it took something extra for you to be accepted? Who told you that life has to be perfect for you to have a praise? Who told you that what you've known is what's normal? Who told you that? "Yeah, well, I'm just not good with money". Who told you that? "Yeah, I'm just not very good with…" I'm going to set a teenager free. "I'm just not good with girls". Who told you that? You could fake some swag so quick and have them lined up when the quarantine is over. Who told you that? Who told you that? "I'm just an introvert". This is a time where God is trying to get us to prune ourselves of perspectives that did not come from heaven. Who told you that? Did it come from God?
See, in this season of my life, I have to focus on what he is speaking. Prison sentences. I have to let his Word get in my life, my heart, my mind. Transformed by the renewing of my mind. Not conformed by my situation, transformed by my revelation. Situation; revelation. Paul saw it one way. Y'all see chains; I see opportunity. Paul saw it one way. Y'all see limitation; I see an opening. Paul saw it one way. Y'all see captivity; I see freedom. I see what God said, and I speak it over your life. Focus on the fruit, not the frustration. He could have spent every sentence in Philippians… How would Philippians 4:13 be? "I really have a headache right now, and I'm sick of this".
Would you quote Philippians 4:13 if he didn't focus on the fruit? He said, "No, I'm going through stuff, but I can do… What I went through showed me what I can do, because Christ is in me". Focus on the fruit. Paul said, "I don't know". Isn't it funny how he's so used to calling the shots that he's still talking like he has a choice? When you've been in charge a long time… My dad thought he could beat me up when he was sick in his bed and couldn't move. He still said, "Boy, I'll whip your so-and-so", and stuff like that to me. I was walking around with muscles and stuff, and he was lying in the bed. He was so used to being bigger and stronger than me. Paul is almost like that. He's waiting on a verdict. Do you live or die?
Then look at what he says. Are you ready for verse 17? He said, "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter"? What does it matter? What actually matters? When you get that clear, it'll set you free. What actually matters? This one woman told me the best parenting advice is don't spend your whole life chasing clean carpet only to wish when your kids went to college that they could come back and mess it up one more time. She said her biggest regret was she spent her whole life chasing clean carpet. What actually matters? We do this in worship. Right?
I don't care if you hit the note right. I care if the note hits your heart right. I don't care if we have a mistake. Let me tell you about this sermon. I don't care if I'm grammatically correct. Who cares? I care if the spiritual fruit… As a matter of fact, I don't really care if you like this message. I don't care. I mean, I do. Okay, I want you to like the message. I wouldn't post it on Instagram if I didn't want you to like it. That's literally how the system works, but I care more if this message bears fruit in your life than if you like it. I hope you fight me today in your mind. "How dare he say it doesn't matter, this and that? He doesn't know what I'm going through". No, I don't.
That's why I'm so glad I called Paul to preach, because Paul went through this stuff. Paul went through the "This isn't fair". Paul was trying to do right. I don't think anybody was smarter than Paul. That's why I was so surprised he said, "I don't know". What? That's like one of my kids saying, "Thank you". I'm like, "What's happening right now? Is it the rapture"? He said, "I know what's important". Do you? Most of us don't. Most of us, it takes our whole life… What if this season is fast-forwarding us into the correct priorities? Would it be worth it? What if we're going to get 50 years of wisdom, the fruit of a season of frustration? Can I show you something else Paul said?
Go to Romans 8. Romans 8 is really good for perspective. Verse 18: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". Both are a focus. Suffering and glory at the same time. What do you want to focus on? The frustration or the fruit? I am convinced. I am persuaded. I have made up my mind that what I am going through is nothing compared to what is going to come forth from it, because I've seen God do it before. "For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration…"
But I'm not focused on the frustration. I'm not focused on the fear. I'm not even focused on the facts. "…not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God". You want me to keep going? This is good to me. "We know…" Some things I just know. Some things I just know in my soul. Some things I can't prove from a book. Some things I can't Google. Some things I can't get from the news. Some things I can't learn from Twitter. Some things they can't teach me in a classroom, but I know in my spirit. "…that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits…" Focus on the fruit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control".
What God is doing in me right now is setting me free from everything that doesn't look like him. I have the firstfruits. What you focus on. Focus on the fruit. That's why I still tithe in a recession. You think I'm not going to bring back to God what he gave me? He is my source. Yet there's this groaning. There's this tearing. He said there's this groaning that words can't explain. There's this tension. It's unsettled. It's the 3:00 a.m. stuff. It's the 3:00 p.m. crash. It's the "Another day of this". It's the "I'm so sick of these people around me". Yet if I focus on the fruit, he said my present suffering isn't even worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed.
Can I keep going? "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved". Hope is a focus, people, not a feeling. Hope is a focus. I'm focusing on the fruit. I'm focusing on the character. Perseverance builds character. Focus on the fruit. Look at what God is doing in you right now. He said, "In this we hope…" Even though we don't know. There's an instability in the world. There always has been. "But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have"?
See, if I know it, I don't have to hope for it. That's where my faith grows. That's the soil. That's where the seed breaks apart. That's where you are right now. That's what God is doing in this season. Thank you, Lord. "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know…" Come on, Paul. Make it rhyme. Make it ring. Come on, Paul. Give me the facts. Come on, Paul. Set it up. Come on, Paul. You can preach better than that. "We do not know…" That's the soil where hope springs forth and buds like faith and looks like resurrection. You alone, Lord, know if these bones can live.
Verse 26: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans". I don't even know what to pray. God said, "I'll take it from here. I'll finish the sentence". Paul is in prison. God said, "I'll finish the sentence. Even if the Devil started it, I'll finish it". He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. I'm focused on the fruit, because God is helping me.
Verse 27: "And he who searches our hearts knows…" He knows. Do you remember Jeremiah? They were in captivity to Babylon. He said, "It's going to be 70 long years, but God said, 'I know the plans I have for you.'" You're not supposed to know them all. There are some things you're not supposed to know, because that's where faith grows. That's where hope grows. That's where maturity takes root. The Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. Here comes my favorite verse. "And we know…"
Have you ever heard Romans 8:28? Oh, you can put this anchor down in the deepest water and get through the storm. "…that all things work together for the good of those who love God…" Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That's where people stop. Finish the sentence, like Paul in prison. Do you know that when Paul and Silas were in prison the doors opened but they didn't leave? Why? We still have work to do. I'm going to finish the sentence. I'm going to see the goodness of the Lord.
Don't let the Devil cut you off now. Don't let him speak fear while God is building faith. Finish the sentence. Finish the work. Be strong and courageous. Take the land. "For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love him". I don't know much, but I know I love you, Lord. That may be all I need to know. I know I love you. I know I'm called. I know I'm appointed. I know you spoke it! I know you're able! But finish the sentence. "All things work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose". That's the fruit. Focus on the fruit, because if you don't focus on the fruit of what God is doing right now, you will die in the frustration as you wait.