The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
There is a phrase that a lot of people over-use and under-appreciate in our culture: get over yourself.
Granted, you don’t hear that phrase a lot today because everyone today is about “me”. “Me” is the focus of everything around us. People get offended because “me” isn’t getting what they need or people aren’t giving “me” everything they deserve. Just think of a few things in the world today we see that are the result of a “me” mentality. How about protests and demonstrations over words people say? How about people getting into virtual shouting matches with other people online because they have different political opinions? How about Christians being told to keep their opinions to themselves because other people find it hurtful?
Society really starts breaking down when everything becomes about “me”. God didn’t create us to be inwardly focused; he created us to be upwardly focused on God.
Just look in Genesis when man and woman were living without sin. The Bible paints a picture where God physically dwelled with and communicated with Adam and Eve. Their purposes were focused on GOD, GOD’S CREATION, and on each other. “Me” didn’t hop into the picture until we were introduced to sin. Satan, in the form of a serpent, explained to Eve, “why SHOULDN’T you eat from the tree of knowledge?”
Read Genesis 3:1-6…
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when[a] you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God,[b] knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
See what happened there? Everything was fine until Satan turned the focus on Eve as an individual. In fact, Eve even initially resisted the temptation by FOCUSING ON GOD and explaining what his commands really were. It wasn’t until Satan explained to Eve WHAT SHE COULD GAIN that Even actually gave in. Satan turned the focus on “me”.
If you look at this, it leads us to a really, really interesting conclusion: if Eve had never shifted her focus on herself, there may have never been the original sin in the Garden of Eden. This conclusion might be a lot more nuanced than we can discuss here, but it certainly seems that a FOCUS ON “ME” is fundamental to what sin actually is. This is supported by many of the lessons we read from cover-to-cover in the Bible.
The idea of being God-focused is something Christ showed us throughout his life. He was born in the lowest of low circumstances, lived a life associating with the rejects of society, died the death of the worst criminal, and even in his resurrection he came back with a message of love and mission rather than one of selfishness. Christ’s entire life reflected the SELFLESSNESS we are called to have both in our attitude and our actions.
Paul explained this perfectly in his letter to the church in Philippi. What you are going to see if the stark difference between what Christ DESERVED and what he GOT.
Read Philippians 2:3-11…
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11)
Christ’s glory and perfection deserves nothing but our complete and total devotion, yet Christ willingly put himself into situations where he would have to live and the lowest of the low. Think of how many situations Christ was put in that he could have justifiably said he deserved better. Most of us wouldn’t be able to resist, yet Christ did. That’s the model set for us. Jesus demonstrated that our calling is to live HUMBLY even if it’s not “FAIR” or what we think we deserve.
This brings us back to the title of the lesson. When you look at the life of Christ, he had every reason in the world to lash out at people and to tell them off. He was subjected to the highest form of persecution, was denied his rights, was falsely accused and subject to prejudice. He got in trouble for things he didn’t do and had to get punished when he hadn’t done anything wrong. Does all that sound familiar? He was the ultimate authority, yet he did not demand authority figures stop lecturing him. Christ lived a life of humility and through that life he made a bigger statement than he could have through standing up to government, smarting off to authority figures, or any other action of ‘justice’ we see people engage in today. Christ’s life basically rolls up into two concepts: GET OVER YOURSELF & FOCUS ON GOD. Do that, and your life will be a lot more fulfilled than it will be pursuing your own idea of what “you deserve”.