Last Sunday we continued our series on This is how we do it! We put God first in our lives! This is part of spiritual growth.
Though there are definitive steps to growth, the first and foremost important step is death to self. This is SO hard in our narcissistic, selfie-taking, me-first, copycat, unoriginal, plastic surgery, and keeping up with the Jones’ culture that we live in.
Remember Polaroid pictures? They were no joke! You got one shot for the perfect picture.
Now we can take 100 pictures, curate all the shots and come up with the final 3, retouch it on our phones (take out all the wrinkles, blemishes, and trim the double chin), and then post them on social media and get a bunch of likes. With snapchat, the filters are so good that you can wake up looking like Dracula, and still look like princess Diana.
The problem with filters is that they hide what’s really going on.
We hide behind cameras. We tell a public fairytale story, when our private life is falling apart.
KEY THOUGHT: God cannot elevate who you pretend to be.
God is all about changing and blessings us, but he can only change and bless our true selves.
There’s a story in the bible about a man named Jacob. Jacob, from the moment he was born, it was all about him.
Jacob was always trying to be first. When he was born, he came out grabbing onto his brother’s heel. Even as was a baby, he subconsciously wanted to get ahead. Jacob had a “me-first” mentality.
Today, we live in a “me-first” culture, in which we all subconsciously strive to be recognized.
Jesus asked in Luke 9,
VS. 25 “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels.” (MSG)
We all grasp at things like status and security, but in the process of grabbing at stuff, we run the risk of losing our very selves.
This, my friends, is the greatest problem we have in America. We live in a world where God is an option of many other gods around us.
We live in a world that we are miserable because we are all about me first. Self-sacrifice is what it costs to follow Jesus.
WE DON’T FOOL GOD WITH OUR FILTERS:
When Jacob was younger, he tricked his old, blind father into giving him the blessing that was meant for his older brother. In Genesis 27-28, he even dressed up in animal skins and pretended to be Esau to steal his blessing (Essau was hairy).
Jacob invented himself a 4D version of the filter back in the day!!! (Genesis 27:21-27)
We also put on costumes and filters to get things we think we need.
We all have a gap between the person we want to be and the person we are, so we create a fake identity to bridge the gap.
Jacob got the blessing by pretending to be someone he wasn’t. But because of his deception, he had to spend the next 20 years on the run from Esau. He got exactly what he wanted, but he never got to enjoy it.
God cannot elevate who we pretend to be!!
We don’t fool God with our disguises, and the blessings we get when we pretend are not even real blessings that we can fully enjoy for ourselves.
Just because the pictures look good on social media, doesn’t mean that the heart looks great.
They could be going through unimaginable things in their lives and you would never have guessed it.
The only time God can really bless us is when we choose to get a hold of God in our lives and not let go! Jacob clung to God and would not let go in 'Genesis 32:22-31. God blesses those that cling to Him and don’t let go.
Most of us fight for relationships, promotions, status, but what if we just fight to not let go of God until he chooses where we will be blessed?
Jacob was 97 years old when he wrestled with God. Having conned his way through life, this was his turning point. After wrestling all night, God told him to let go. But Jacob refused to let go until God blessed him. When God asked his name, he said “Jacob.” In that moment, God renamed him “Israel” and blessed him.
Jacob had finally gotten a hold of God, the only One who could truly bless him, and he wouldn’t let go.
The first key to finding our very selves is to make the decision not to let go of God. God is the only One who can truly bless us. Don’t tap out on Him and give up on His promises. Hold on. Never let go.
When God asked Jacob his name, he answered truthfully. He didn’t pretend to be someone else, as he had in the past.
The second key to finding our very selves is to admit who we really are. All God wants is for us to come to Him as we are. Then He gives us a new name. A new new identity in Christ!
However, even after Jacob’s name had been changed, the Bible continues to call him both Jacob and Israel. This is because change is conflicting, and it’s a process.
Change is conflicting, and change takes time. It is not a linear process. REAL Change begins with not letting go of God.
So, who are you fighting for? The fake you that you consistently and exhaustingly pretend to be? or the identity that God wants to give you?
Don’t give up too quickly… Me first is miserable.
Join us Sunday for the next chapter and bring a friend!