Hey everybody—great to see you guys! My name’s Peter and I get to be the pastor here. And I’m so glad you’re back for part 2 of our series… Walls! I love that question: What if you could break through these walls? It’s filled with HOPE! We all want to be free—free from guilt & shame, free from past regrets… and free to live in the love of Jesus & embrace God’s purpose for our lives! We want to see God break through the walls that we’ve put up that keep us from Him! Freedom in Christ is the ultimate goal!
Our theme verse for this series is John 8:36:
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36
Last week we talked about how God loves you in the middle of your mess, God loves you right where you are. Remember my couch? Remember the mess I shared with you about the couch? How many of you went home and looked under the cushions of your couch… Anyone?
We can’t discover what’s in the couch until we take a look under the cushions. About Seven years ago, I used to drive a very old Ford Taurus Station wagon. This thing was so old and ugly that I don’t even have a picture of it to show you. I had to google it. It’s not one of those cars that you lean on the hood and snap a selfie with. But this thing had a “Check Engine” light flashing on the dashboard constantly. And half the time, I didn’t even want to know what the problem was because I was scared how much it would cost! Little light… big bill!
But imagine I took my Taurus to the mechanic, and said “I don’t know what’s wrong… the check engine light’s going off”… and the Mechanic pops the hood and sees this. What do you think he’d say?
“Well, there’s your problem! You done got a python in yer engine!
This is not Photoshopped—this a real-life picture from South Africa where a husband & wife had to stop their car… and when they looked under the hood, there was a 16-foot rock python coiled around the engine block!
Again, you don’t have to be an Auto Mechanic to discover the problem—some issues are obvious.
We’ve got some teachers in here, or those who work in education. Let’s say the kids in your district have low reading scores. And you see this sign outside the elementary school. Leteracy Night on December 8th. Why can’t the kids read in your school? “Well, there’s your problem! You can’t even spell literacy right!
See some problems are so easy to discover, you don’t need an expert. But others you gotta go digging to DISCOVER! And that’s what we want to do today. We’re gonna push past our fears and pop the hood… to discover what’s underneath. We’re gonna push past our shame or embarrassment about looking stupid… and confront the areas of our lives that God wants to fix.
// Joy & Pain
There’s a great quote by Frederick Buechner (Beekner), who said:
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Isn’t that true? Life is a mixture of Joy & Pain? Sadness & Celebration go hand-in-hand every day of the week. This week, on the same day, I had 2 experiences that show this:
– Met with a friend who’s business is exploding… Hard work is paying off! (they’re so excited.. JOY!)
– Sat with a friend who is struggling with the reality of living with a painful disease — facing grief.
Makes you scratch your head. Truth is: Sometimes I don’t understand God’s ways & things He allows. Life here on Earth is equal parts Joy & Pain—there’s Sunshine & Shadow.
• There are good parts—having birthday parties… being debt free… going to weddings… experiencing the sweetness of newborn babies.
• Then there are really hard parts—our battles with loneliness, kids who need chemo again, that affair & the divorce, our silent suffering, and our unseen addictions. These are the walls that we want to start talking about.
Because it’s the dings & dents, the disappointments & devastations of life that Jesus is most interested in. No one gets out of this life unscathed. We all suffer bruises & serious breaks in life—and yet Jesus is a Healer, the great physician. And Jesus doesn’t just give a band-aid to mask our pain—He offers supernatural healing. And healing is what some of us need right now, if we’re honest.
See Hope City Church is a little different than your typical church. In our church: It’s OK to not be OK. That may be a new thought to some of you, depending on your background. Many people think, “Church is the one place where I better have my junk together… or at least sweep it under the couch!”
Many of us believe we need to… cover up our scars… sanitize our scandals… gloss over our grief. If we’re honest I think we build walls around us to keep us from experiencing shame and pain. We’re frightened that the messy parts of our lives will be exposed—pouring on the guilt & shame. We’ve all got walls that we’ve put up.
Q: Can I ask: What are the studs in your wall? Maybe it’s something that causes you shame. What are you scared to death others will find out about you?
Some of you worry that others will see you screaming at your kids before church. Or that others would be shocked if they knew your sexual history. Or discover you take Prozac for your depression.
Some of you hold tight to the secret that you wear SPANX underneath your clothes to suck in your stomache (And I’m just talking about the men in the room)…
“We’re scared that if the world sees how messy our lives really are, they won’t like us. And the rest of the church will go… GASP! NO! I’m SHOCKED!
Right? So we bury all those hurts & struggles under the couch cushions. We pretend to be OK when we’re not OK. But see with Christ followers, it’s supposed to be just the opposite: Bc we are so confident of God’s grace (His radical love for mess-ups like me)… we realize It’s OK to not be OK.
You’re not gonna be shamed or embarrassed or made to feel guilty… if you’re honest about the struggles in your life. Instead, you’re gonna discover others who say “Me Too!”
That’s how Grace works. Before Jesus can heal us, we have to break through the walls, the façade of having to fake like we’re OK all the time.
So as the Lead Pastor this church, let me officially declare… It’s OK to not be OK.
But listen: It’s not OK to stay that way. God loves you too much to leave you stuck in your pain forever. And there comes a point where you have to invite Jesus into the mess & believe He can heal you. If we take off our religious mask… admit our secret struggles… Jesus says, “I can heal your heart & breakthrough these walls that hold you back from me.”
Remember: Jesus’ love for you is unconditional. IOW: It doesn’t depend on your effort or performance. Grace is given—not earned. He says, “Cmon, let’s DISCOVER what’s holding your walls up… and I’ll show you the way to be free.
In fact: If you could be honest with your Heavenly Father, you know that I think He’d say. I think He’d say: I know…
• I know that you feel like you’re failing as a parent.
• I know you had a panic attack & feel ashamed if anyone finds out
• I know you feel lonely & jealous of your friends getting married (even though you pretend to be happy for them)
• I know you’ve tried to break that addiction so many times & you’re scared it’s gonna pull you right back in…
And with compassion in His eyes, I think Jesus would look straight into yours and say:
“My child, you are LOVED MORE than you can know… and everything is going to be OK.” Trust me.
That’s why He sent His Son Jesus. Jesus is FOR YOU—and He really wants to help.
So this is your invitation—to be honest about where you are. And discover: What’s under the cushions? What’s lurking under the hood. Whatever is broken… Jesus can help. He can heal. But you must first discover the place where you need his healing touch most.
And to do that, I wanna turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 9, found on Page 731. You can flip there in your Bible or phone. John 9 which is a story of healing of a man who had a major limitation. He was in the same boat as some of you– hurting and facing a wall that he couldn’t break through.
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:1-7
This morning I wanna take a few moments to unpack how Jesus heals this man who had a severe limitation. You can’t even say he had a “few blind spots”… He was born blind and spent his entire life in darkness. It’s hard to imagine.
And most of you here today are NOT blind—but we acknowledged every single one of us has BLIND SPOTS. There are things in our life about ourselves we can’t see—unhealthy habits & patterns & ways of relating that are dysfunctional. They’re not operating as God intended. Some of us—it’s from birth—it’s how we were raised. We think ANGER or ADDICTION in a home is normal. We don’t know there’s any other way to live.
But Jesus says, “I wanna turn the light on for you… so you can DISCOVER the areas of your life that need my healing touch.” And there are 3 things we can learn here from Jesus’ healing of this Blind Man you can apply to your life—whatever your limitation is. And the first Big Idea is this. If you’re taking notes: Healing begins when we… Ask the RIGHT questions.
Notice in verse 2, Jesus’ disciples start with the WRONG question:
2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Whenever there’s a hurt or pain in our life, it’s natural to ask God: “Why’d this happen? What caused this?” Or better yet: Who’s to blame? Who sinned? Him or his parents? Nature/Nurture?
Bc in Jesus’ day, to have a disability like Blindness was considered a PUNISHMENT—kinda like Divine Karma! Oh, you got hurt… or you got sick! Must be Divine Karma! What goes around comes around! So….
Who sinned? Or who’s to blame? Is almost always the WRONG question to start with.
When there’s a pain in your life. Here’s a better question, a healthier question to ask:
“What’s God about to do?” What is God up to? Bc I know God is good… And he’s promised to work things together for all who love him… God, what are you doing here?
So Jesus corrects them in verse 3: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (Other translation says: So that the power of God might be displayed in his life!)
IOW: What is the ultimate purpose of this man’s pain? Jesus says: So that God might reveal His glory. And that’s a new thought to some of you:
What if I told you: Your greatest weakness in life has the POTENTIAL to be the source of God’s greatest glory!
That thing you wish had never happened. That Divorce… God can use it for His glory? Reeally? Really. That Depression… Reeally? Really. That Addiction… God can use for His glory? Reeally? Really. With man, Divorce, Depression, and Addicition seem impossible! But with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Right?? Jesus specializes in turnarounds—turning our weaknesses into strengths that put God’s power & glory on 4K High Def display!
But you have to ask the RIGHT question: You can’t waste your time & energy asking, “Who’s at fault? Who’s to blame? Rather, ask the question: “What’s God doing in my life? What’s Jesus up to?”
To find freedom we have to face the major pillars that hold up our walls. What are my weaknesses? Who am I really? What nagging fears do I constantly carry around? What do I dwell on? What am I hiding from others? How honest am I? How open to change am I?
Healing begins when you…Ask the RIGHT questions. Think of it as a Soul Scavenger Hunt. Be Honest.
John 9, doesn’t let us stop there though. It’s not enough to just ask the right questions… we also must then… Let Jesus OPEN your eyes.
Now remember: The man in John 9 is born blind. But we’re all blind in some ways. Bc of our human frailty & limited perspective– we don’t know the FULL TRUTH about ourselves!
STORY: Deoderant in my Church Bag & Nasty ArmPits (Who is stinking up this room? It’s me!)
Starbucks, starting to smell. Moved from one spot to the next spot… Still smelling…
It was ME! I needed to recognize my own issues.
Here in John 9, the man has a physical disability (blind)… but we all have spiritual blindness. Some of us suffer from:
– Religious Pride // Have no patience or tolerance for those who don’t have it altogether. Judge others, roll eyes… The Ultimate Pharisee. You power through… Never look deep. And don’t realize others see you as an unsafe person.
– Cynical Spirit // Raise your hand if Sarcasm is your spiritual gift. Some of you have a critical tongue & slice & dice your way through life. It’s sometimes funny… but often goes beyond that. You’re always sarcastic, poking fun, cutting others down, mocking them, telling how they could’ve done it better. And you don’t see it… (What’s the big deal?) But that cynicism is like pouring battery acid on your relationships. On your kids, your marriage.
It’s a blind spot. By definition, you don’t see it. And honestly, that kind of blindness impacts those we love most.
That’s why we must invite Jesus to shine his Light into it. He says in verse 4:
4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Jesus illuminates God’s character—his plumb line—in a very dark & crooked world. And we need the Light of Christ shined like a spotlight into the dark areas of our heart that need healing.
So this is a key part to break through the walls that are holding us back — we have to let Jesus open our eyes. Shine the light of His truth into the dark & shadowy places of our hearts! And DISCOVER what God wants to teach us!
Now some of you are saying, “This is hitting too close to home…” But don’t check out on me!” You must understand: Before you get better… it may get messier!
Go back to John 9. Look at verse 6:
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.
Imagine: This guy’s been blind his whole life! And Jesus says, “I’m going to give you your sight!” And this guy musta thought: “Tremendous! I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!!”
So Jesus goes… SNOOOOOORT… SPITS ON THE GROUND… MAKES SOME MUD… and puts it in the GUY’S EYES! Poor guy! First, he’s blind… Now he’s dirty! “Uhhhhh, Jesus… No offense but… this doesn’t feel like healing!” I was blind… now I’m muddy!
What’s the point? Understand something important:
Jesus often makes a mess before He makes us better.
Before we get better, things often get messier. Sometimes—before God does a supernatural work of healing—things get worse! Ever have someone tell you that: “I went to counseling… and things got worse!” They assumed they’d go… explain their problem… condense 15 years of pain in a relationship into 45 minutes… and assume the Counselor pulls out her magic wand… and VOILA! In 50 minutes… healed! All better! ($100 dollars, please 😉
Those of you who’ve had counseling. That’s not how it works, is it?
So I wanna encourage you: Before He makes you better, sometimes Jesus makes a mess. And that’s ok. Don’t give up. Don’t be scared.
It’s easier to just go back to faking it (not dealing with it). But God is saying to you: “Trust Me. Trust Jesus. God has healing for you. There is peace waiting on the other side of your pain. But you must trust the process. As hard as it is: You must press in… and don’t worry that you’re not “feeling better.” Or things are “getting worse.” Listen: Everything is going according to plan. To God’s plan.,
Jesus is a Healer. but you must be patient & persevere. Trust Him. Jesus often makes a MESS before He makes us BETTER.
And if you let him, he will…Turn your TEST into a TESTIMONY! This man born blind (his whole life)—suddenly receives his sight! Verse 7:
7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
Imagine that moment… he spent his whole life walking in darkness… and BOOM! Suddenly the lights come on! Sunlight pours in, illuminating his world! Jesus turns his mess into a miracle! And at first, no one believes it. Verse 8 says:
8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
First he made me dirty. Then he made me clean. I was blind. But now I see!
That my friends, is called a testimony. A testimony is simply the story of what God’s done in your life to change it for the good! How God takes something dirty (like our sin) and washes it clean (by his blood). How once we were BLIND… but now, by God’s light we SEE! We see clearly. Differently. From God’s perspective, not ours.
It’s so cool to see how this man’s TEST (the limitations on his life) became a TESTIMONY to Jesus’ love & power to restore his life to what God intended!
And if you’re here today—and feel blind, broken, or bruised in some part of your life—if you ask Him, Jesus will…Turn your TEST into a TESTIMONY!
The very thing that’s kept you in the dark (for years!)—ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, defeated—Christ can turn that weakness into a strength! Whenever God shines His light into our lives… He puts His glory on display.
That’s the whole purpose of why God wants to heal us. Jesus healed this blind man for one reason: Remember?
“… this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
IOW: This man was allowed to suffer so that GOD’S GOODNESS—his glory & grace could be displayed!
And he’ll do the same for you. If you come to him with HONESTY & TRUST.
So my prayer is this: May God open your eyes this week! May the light of Christ’s love flood you with a sense of HOPE! Of possibility. That this is not as good as it gets.
May you DISCOVER: That your PAST doesn’t have to impact your PRESENT any longer. And it’s possible to Break Through the walls you’ve built. God’s great desire is to turn your TEST into a TESTIMONY of His grace. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Only God does!
And He is here today: Ready & willing to heal yours. If you’ll ask Him.
Would you Invite Christ into the broken places of our lives that need His touch today.
Jesus, we know you have the power to heal for one reason: You died on a Cross for our sins. But then you were RAISED FROM THE DEAD! And bc of your Resurrection, You have the authority to give life & healing to any man or woman who humbly asks. So we invite your Resurrection Power to show up here—in our church. As we come to you with our sins & hurts & fears… wash us clean with your blood. As we come to you with our weaknesses, turn them into strengths. Put your love & power on display in the lives of your people. Jesus, you are our Healer… and by your wounds, we are healed. Amen!