We all have parts of our lives that we wish were better
-Some parts are totally together, others not so good, organized etc
Being a pastor I talk to people every week who wish that certain parts of their lives were better
-Better Job- More fulfilling
ALL of us have 1,2,8 areas of our lives we wish were Better
There is something inside of the human soul that desires to be a better person. We long for improvement we have an ache inside of us that knows something is not right, that I am not yet the person I am supposed to be. That I’m created to be.
It’s because God has written eternity on the hearts of men.
Deep longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Did you know that in nature human beings are the only species that can decide to stop growing?
We WANT change, we want to be filled with desire, we want to be better. But when we lose HOPE-
-Hope that things can change
-Hope that things could be any different than they are now
-Hope that things could be any better
Our desire goes away and we look into our future and we can’t see anything? And it frustrates us because we don’t know what fulfills us any more, what gives us rest, what makes us come alive- its all kind of vanilla/blah
It’s because we’ve lost our hope and settled down into the opposite of Better.
The Problem with Better there is this thing on the other side pulling against Better called “Normal”
Normal is the thing that keeps us from having better in our lives.
Its not just you who wants Better for you life but God wants better for you as well!
We believe that God cares about the little details of your life,
Normal are- those little tendencies that you have, those little behaviors that not too many people know about but it’s those little things that keep you locked up in where you are.
Get stuck in normal.
Japanese Philosophy- Three Faces
Concrete examples of Normal
-Normal is always being late-
-Normal is always blaming “them”
-Normal is never being able to say “I was wrong”
-Normal is giving the silent treatment and putting distance
-Normal is blowing up at people around you
-Having that 2nd piece of cake… when you know deep down you shouldn’t have had the first piece to begin with!
-Putting it on a credit card when you know deep down you don’t have the money but you wanted it, needed it,
-Not spending enough time with the people closest to you- spouse, kids, friends, because you’re buried in your computer, or phone or a show.
Normal is kind of invisible to us because it’s just kind of the way things have always been.
But it’s exactly the thing keeping us from having the kind of life we want and ultimately God wants for us to have.
Here are a couple things you need to know about Normal:
Normal is the enemy of Better
-The habits that we slip into, or the way we get things done that aren’t helpful.
-You can’t deal with a problem that you aren’t willing to admit you have.
The War of Art Book
(Bungee Race Example)
Normal is easy
Good stuff in life is rarely easy- takes work
-Credit card debt
They are the behaviors you don’t want
Normal isn’t working
-You’re like that guy in the video- keep crashing at the same place, over and over- until you come to the decision that normal isn’t working for you.
Some of you have bought into the lie that you’ll never be able to change
-That’s just the way I am
-That awful thing in my character “is just how God made me” or “that’s just my style”- NO that’s where you decided to stop growing.
-We all do that in different areas of our lives
When we talk about becoming Better, we’re not just talking about becoming better for self serving purposes or in pursuit of selfish endeavors – This is the journey of Holiness to become more and more like Jesus.
The good news about Jesus is
Jesus isn’t Normal, He’s Better
Before that settles in as Cliche- Let me tell you that we keep trying to normalize Jesus in our lives and live safe, calm, predictable lives when truly following Jesus looks like anything but.
Jesus doesn’t do things like I do things, like you do.
Read through the Gospels- Always saying things that aren’t normal
-Love your enemies
-Pray for those that hate you
-First shall be last
-If you want to gain your life you have to lose your life.
Even His own followers didn’t understand- Peter took him aside one time- come more back towards center
One of the biggest things that Jesus claimed was that He was God
If Jesus is God doesn’t it stand to reason that He might have a few better ideas on how to live life than we do?
Wouldn’t “normal” in the ways of an all powerful omnipotent God look different than “normal” to you and I?
And I think if we were to adopt some of these not-normal practices in our lives we’d see Better happen in our lives as well.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Guy comes up and the story is called the Rich Young Ruler.
-That seems to the trifecta that we’re all chasing as well. We want to be:
-In Charge/powerful if we could
-He has all three
-Not looking for this from good motives, fire insurance
-When its all over, how do I know I’m going to go to heaven
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
-Right away we see Jesus doing something not normal
-It looks like Jesus can’t take a compliment here
-You’re a good teacher, I like the things you say
-But right away we see Jesus Challenging the question and getting to the deeper meaning of what is behind the question
-In the first century Jewish tradition only God was thought of to be good
-So you’re calling me good and we know that God is good, so you’re putting me on the same level as God, and thats cool because I am but do you really want to do that?
-Because here in a second, I might ask you to do something that you don’t want to do and are you still going to recognize me as good then?
You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not , Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
-Well this is no surprise to Jesus- kind of setting him up here
-Kinda starts to reveal where He’s going with this whole thing
Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go and sell all you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and then come, follow Me.”
-What Jesus is asking this guy to do is so far out of the bounds fo normal from what you and I think Better would be
-This guy has everything going for him, looks, wealth, power
-Jesus says the way forward for you is actually going to be going backwards
I love that this verse says “He looked at him and loved him.”
And thats funny because for a lot of us we think love always looks like:
-A warm feeling
-A Big hug
Sometimes it is! But a lot of times love also looks like a slap upside the head.
-Parents- how many of you know your kid was heading toward danger would be like- come here give me a hug
YELL STOP! Stand in their way- I’m opposing you but in love!
We look at this verse and say “Man so glad He’s not asking me to do that!”
Don’t ask Him anything, He’s going to ask you to go to Africa!
And if I don’t ask Him anything then I don’t have to tell him no when he gives me an answer I don’t like.
Would you be willing to sell all that you have…? Most of us that is not the ask.
But would we be willing to give up just a little bit of our comforts to know him better?
-TV time/some of the stuff you entertain yourself with/let in to your soul
-Students would you be willing to give up that friendship that is not good for you just to know Jesus a little bit more?
On the surface level a lot of us in this room would say “I’d give up anything just to have Jesus in my life a little bit more”
But in reality, we’re a lot like the rich young ruler-
I got normal going on and normal’s actually been pretty good, but there’s just a little bit lacking in my normal. So Jesus if you could just give my normal just a little boost to get me over the edge, that’d be great.
I don’t really want to change anything I’m doing but if you could give my normal an upgrade that’d be great.
We see Jesus as someone who comes along and helps us carry the burden towards the path that we’re on.
Sometimes that happens, but often Jesus Jesus is standing in our way yelling stop- This is no longer a direction I want you to go in.
I’m not going to help you carry this in this direction anymore- you need to let it go completely. I’m here to help you set it down!
It’s so hard for us to see!
Because normal in our minds:
Better ALWAYS looks like Better
Better ALWAYS looks like more!
Better ALWAYS looks like moving forward
-For a lot of us that deep frustration/unsettled feeling we have deep down about our lives in our gut is actually a result of us trying to live a life that is beneath us. Beneath what God has called us to-
Transplant an organ that doesn’t belong to us and our souls keep rejecting it.
taking the medicine of:
-Fear of what other people think of me
-Lack of trust
-Comparing our story to what others are doing
-Are we going to have enough retirement
Instead of asking God what story am I supposed to be living- and stepping into the greatness that God has called you to!
TO US: Better always looks like moving forward
In the ways of Jesus, Sometimes Better looks worser
Almost every major character in scripture had to go backwards to go forwards.
If you follow Jesus, there will almost certainly be a time when Better looks Worser.
This is why Jesus’ own disciples couldn’t understand-
-Opposed him going to the cross
-telling him he didn’t need to die
-Peter even cut off some dudes ear to stop it all
They thought Better always looked like better!
That’s why no one was waiting at the tomb on the first Easter 10,9,8
No one understood that Worse could be Better- but thats often how the Kingdom of God works.
Not because he wants to torture us or something- He wants a relationship of trust
Sometimes He asks us to lay some things down so that we can get to know Him just a little bit better GREAT NEWS is that when we do- What we get in return is so much better than what you had to begin with.
Rich Young Ruler couldn’t see that, he could only see worser
(Personal Story- Drums)
A lot of need to back to that elementary teaching of Jesus to say again- Not my will but yours
Jesus kneels in the garden knowing what He needed to do and what He wanted to do.
Every single one of us are being brought to that kind of crossroads in our lives- Between what we want to do and need to?
-Are you willing to give this up
-Are you willing to lay this down
-Are you willing to give up a little bit of your comfort
-Are you willing to get some help in an area you’ve been struggling in
-Are you willing to give up your normal
-Are you willing to give up what you know
-Are you willing to give up that habit
You’re never going to get Better in your life without going through a little bit of worse.
Wrapping up: Look how he responds, its heart breaking
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mark 10: 22
He was stunned, he had no idea that it could work this way. So he went back to normal.
Thats the dangerous part for ALL OF US that instead of following Jesus, we’d just go back to what we know.
Two Asks and a Dare
What is your normal- What needs to change, pattern that needs adjusting?
What can you do today? Book, Talk to a friend
Dare: Invite Jesus to step into your path- Ask Him to speak to you!
Jesus doesn’t want normal for you. He wants Better. Let go of your normal to embrace better.