Steven Furtick - Trapped In A Lonely Place
I do need you to know that the reason some of you feel like you feel is because God's hand is on you and you're different. You're different. You're different. That's why you find yourself, when people that are around you, they're being kind of hateful or they're making fun of someone and they're calling them gay or they're calling them this or they're calling them that, and you just can't go along with it, and even when you find yourself laughing along you're like, "Man, that doesn't feel right to me". You're a leader. That's not what God put you here for, is just to be a part of that mentality. You're like one of those shining stars that was in Holly's Bible study that she taught, that is spotless and pure in a depraved generation, that you would shine like a star. That's you. But leaders are lonely.
I think Jesus was very lonely. Nobody got him. They were always trying to talk him out of going to the cross. That's the whole reason he came down in Pampers. He didn't come to feed them fish. He did that, but that's not the main thing he came for. So you will see this pattern. Jesus chose to be alone. "They're looking for you, you've got to do amazing there's". Even that's what the devil told Jesus right before he was going to start his ministry, he had to be tempted, and the devil said, "Do something spectacular". You know how right now one of the only ways to be popular for girls sometimes is to go on certain social media and show everything that's too much, that's really not for everybody else to see, that is really sacred to you? But if there is something inside of you that knows, that's not who I am, that's all right. That's all right. That's all right.
I'd rather be fruitful for 30 years than famous for 30 minutes. I've got something inside of me. And Jesus chose to be alone. But when I read you the text, there was another man who was lonely, not because he chose it. The Bible doesn't say his name. I doubt many people ever asked him his name. The Bible just tells us his condition, which was a skin condition called leprosy. Now, the Bible is pretty clear about what lepers were treated like in this culture. And it wasn't that they were mean. You all thought social distancing was so 2020? Way before everybody was wearing masks around, social distancing, and the Bible has all kinds of stuff that is way more relevant than we think it is.
So when people tell you the Bible's outdated, social distancing... In fact, it wasn't six feet. If you had this skin disease called leprosy, the first thing you would have to do is go and show yourself to the priest. And what would normally happen is, a spot would start to form on your skin. So they'd check you out and they would see if the spot was just on the skin like a scab, or was it in the skin? And if it was in the skin and the coloration of the skin was starting to change and it was starting to spread, then they would quarantine you and they would keep you outside of the camp until they could see if it got worse. If it got worse after seven days, when you came back to the priest and he checked you out, the sons of Aaron, the ones who ran the church of that day, when you came back to them, now, all of this is in the Bible in Leviticus, what verses did I give you?
The Leviticus verse I gave you, put it up for me. Thirteen, it said anyone with a defiling disease must wear torn clothes. Which some of us do by choice, but for the lepers this was to signify something about their skin condition. And not only did they have to wear torn clothes, but they couldn't shave their beard, cut their hair. Man, this sounds just like March, April, May, June, and July in the United States of America. How did Leviticus know? But put it back up, it said, this is the saddest part about it for me, it said cover the lower part of their face and cry out, "Unclean, unclean". So that means before anybody even got to know who you were really, they identified you by what they saw on you.
And I need you to get that context, because a lot of us in our lives, we have issues, but they're not on our skin. They're not spots on our skin. They're spots on our soul. The places inside of us that keep us isolated. What's your spot? What's your spot? Oh, everybody's got a spot. And if you look at me with that holy heart playing church face, Gabriel, I will look in your eyes and prophecy every demon that you've been... I'm telling you, everybody in this room has a spot. "Not me". No, don't... Yours is just a little deeper. When I thought about this man in Mark chapter one, I noticed that when he came up to Jesus, because remember, he's not supposed to get near Jesus. In fact, he's not supposed to get near anybody, let alone the spotless Son of God, let alone a rabbi. He's supposed to stay back. How far back? Not six feet, 50 steps back.
Now, I preached this text a couple years ago in our church, but it feels a little different right now where I wear this. This feels really like it's for us right now. 50 feet back. You know how lonely that would be, to live your life 50 feet back from human touch? You know how lonely that would be, that every time you walk into a room you had to announce yourself by what was wrong with you? "Unclean", you had to say it loud, too. If you didn't, they could stone you to death. If they found out that you were carrying something that you didn't let them know about, because they saw it as being contagious and they were trying to protect people from it, and that was the reason for it, it wasn't to be cruel. They were trying to be careful, so they kept them back, and you had to walk in the room and tell them not who you were, not what your hopes were, not what your dreams were, not what your gift was, not how you had a good heart. Unclean.
How many of you all would have come tonight to hear me preach? And I want you to really think about this, if before you came in you had to shout every sin you struggled with at the door? They didn't get it, Elijah. Listen, he asked me the other day, we were watching YTHX, I don't remember who we were watching preach, do you? You said, "If every thought that you had right now came on the screen at YTHX, would you still have your job as the pastor"? I said, "Oh, God, no". I said, "Would you have any friends"? He said no. I said, "Well, what are you thinking that would be so bad"? He said, "I'm not telling you". I said, "I'm not telling you either", and then we finished our workout. But I want you to really think about it.
What if you had to stand at that door and shout what you struggled with before you walked in? What if you walked in the door and instead of taking your temperature you had to name your biggest temptation? What if you had to walk in the room, "Porn". That was too real. "Porn". I don't think there would be any men that would come in and watch me preach if you had to name your greatest temptation out loud before you walked in. Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, help me preach. I'm preaching to the holy people right now. And yet sometimes I think it would be better if our issues were on the outside than on the inside. Because when your spots are on the inside you can learn how to manage around them, so you never really deal with them.
This man walked up to Jesus and he begged him on his knees, verse 40, "If you are willing, you can make me clean". And think about this. He hasn't been this close to anybody. We don't know how long, and we don't really know this man's story, not fully, anyway. We know that he had leprosy on his skin, but we don't know when it started or how far it had spread. We know that since leprosy attacks the nervous system, one of the things that it impairs is your ability to feel. Your ability to feel. And it had been a long time since this man had felt any pain. That's a lonely place. That's a lonely place, when you can't really feel anything. And I'll tell you this, I've been around some people who are really famous who are the loneliest people of all, because although a lot of people know their name and know what they do and see how they perform, to most people they are just an idea or an image, not an individual.
And so when you think to yourself, "Oh, I'll be famous and then I'll feel fulfilled", it's a lie of the enemy. You don't want to be famous, you want to be fruitful. You want to be fruitful. And what good is it for you to be famous if it just makes you more isolated because you have to fake it for fame? This is what I love about the man. He was willing to risk being seen and his issue being exposed in order to be touched. And the first person who touched this man since his disease showed up on his skin was the sinless Son of God. I love how Jesus touched him, because we know that Jesus didn't have to do that. Jesus had the ability to heal people, and elsewhere he did just by the power of his word. But he decided to do something that would communicate more than syllables could. He didn't just want to show this man that he had the power to heal. He wanted to teach him a lesson about what God is like.
And I want everybody who is in here who is struggling with shame right now to hear the word of the Lord. I want you to hear this in Argentina. I want you to hear this in Rock Hill. I want you to hear this right now in Tennessee and Alabama and Idaho. I want you to hear this right now sitting watching this all by yourself, and you've been isolated, and there's something inside of you that makes you feel like there's something wrong with you. See, in the Old Testament if the priest touched something that was unclean, it made the priest dirty. That's why he couldn't touch it. But Jesus was not just any priest. I wish I had an organ like it was Sunday morning. Jesus was not just any priest. This is not a human priest. This is the Lamb of God, this is the great high priest. He is not defiled. He is not ashamed. He knew no sin.
So watch this. When you touch Jesus, the unclean doesn't make the clean unclean, the clean makes the unclean clean. You all act like you want to praise God for hour 71 of YTHX 2020. Come on and let him touch you. I have a word for somebody today who has been carrying shame and it's had you in a lonely place. A lonely place. Oh, yeah, you still text people, but it's not really you texting. It's a representative of you that's trying to figure out what to say that's going to create the image that you think they won't reject. And the places that you go when you're lonely often make you even more lonely. It's a lonely place outside the camp. It's a lonely place when the spot isn't on your skin, but the spot is in your soul, and you think, "If anybody knew that part about me, they wouldn't love me". But they didn't make you. They didn't make you. They didn't die for you. And let me promise you something. They've got their own spot too.
So for all of you who feel like, "I'm not one of these good people, I'm not one of these good Christian kids, I'm not one of the church kids, I'm not one of these". Notice how Jesus did not resist the man when he got at a distance that he wasn't supposed to be. He said, watch this, you ready? "This is what I came for. This is what I came for. I didn't come here to win a popularity contest. I came to touch people and use people and raise people and heal people that nobody else would touch. I want to use that kid right there, the weird one. Where are the weird ones at? Where are the weird ones at? Where are the weird ones at"?
And I know you feel weird sometimes, and so do I. But the text says that when that man came out of his lonely place, lonely place, lonely place. It's a lonely place when you have an addiction and you can't tell anybody about it. It's a lonely place. It's a lonely place when sometimes you have suicidal thoughts. It's a lonely place. It's a lonely place when your dad wasn't there to raise you. It's a lonely place. It's a lonely place when you've only been able to hang out with your eight-year-old sister and your mom for the last 14 years, and you all are wearing masks together watching the same movies on the couch for the 100th time. It's a lonely place when you can't even come to church for YTHX, you've got to watch it on the phone.
And the Lord says, don't make life decisions when you're in a lonely place. Don't make life decisions when you're in a lonely place. You'll do some things that you'll have to live with for the rest of your life. And some of the places that some of you all are going so you won't be lonely are making you more lonely. Because now you're on here comparing and now you're on here posing, and now you're on here just... And now you feel more lonely. So when that man came to Jesus and Jesus touched him, I'm sure he was surprised. And the leprosy left him immediately. You don't have to wait the next five years for the shame to fall off your life. It may take a while for the behavior to change, but you can leave the shame right here today, right now, right here, right now. Right here, right now. The shame stops here, right here, right now.