Text:  Matthew 16:24–26
Title: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  Myth 2: The World Owes Me Happiness

[From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" 

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."]

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 

Tonight is the second installment of my midweek sermon series entitled: Mythbusters: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  All of us live with beliefs, assumptions, and presuppositions about what life is supposed to be like.  And sometimes these beliefs, assumptions and presuppositions are right as rain, but other times, they are not.   And when they are not is when we become disappointed with life.  Certain mistaken beliefs, assumptions and presuppositions are really myths that can make us miserable.  

This week’s myth is the idea that the world owes me happiness.  It’s very similar to last week’s myth: It’s all about me.  These are self-centered beliefs which assume that I am more important than other people, that my comfort and convenience supersedes yours, and that I have a right to expect society give me what I want.  In extreme cases, people with this mentality wind up in the deepest darkest pit of despair when things don’t work out like they anticipate.  Life’s not like that.  But all of us struggle to some degree with self-worship.

There is a story of a man with very bad astigmatism who went in for his regular eye exam.  This man had been to the same ophthalmologist for years and read the same eye chart at every visit.  After a while, the man sort of memorized the letters on the eye chart and didn’t have to strain much to get them right.  So, on this occasion, as usual, the doctor asked the man to read the first line and the man said, “A.”  Then he was asked to read the next line and he said, “F S P V.  And finally, the doctor asked him to read the line beneath that one and he said, “B R T Q Z L M Y.”

“Alright,” said the doctor.

“How’d I do,” the man asked?

And the doctor said, “You did fine except that this chart was all numbers.”

Do you understand?  The man thought he knew what was on the chart and it affected what he saw.  In actuality, he was far off base.

The way we see or don't see life shapes our life. How you see and define life determines your future. Your perspective on life will determine how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and nurture your relationships.

I think one of the best ways to get to know other people and begin to understand what makes them tick, is to ask them, "How do you see your life?" You'll discover that there are as many answers to that question as there are people to answer it. 

If I asked you to think of a metaphor for your life, what image comes to mind? That image is your life metaphor, and it will determine your expectations, your values, your goals, and your priorities. 

If you see life as a party, your primary value will be to have fun.

If you see life as a marathon, you'll value endurance.

If you see life as a game, you'll value winning.

So, what is your view of life?

In Matthew’s Gospel, it says, From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" 

Can you imagine doing this?  Peter rebuked JESUS.  With humility and love, we should rebuke each other.  We should correct each other out of a loving spirit.  And I re-emphasize that this must be done with humility.  But we should never rebuke Jesus.  You and I are fallible and sinful.  We make mistakes and sometimes, we do bad things.  But Jesus Christ is the Lord of Creation.  He does not make mistakes.  He does not sin.  Peter wasn’t exactly clear on Jesus’ identity even at this stage, apparently.  You do not rebuke God.  But Peter did.  That’s how outrageous these words of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel were to the disciple.

The Messiah came in order to suffer and to be killed.  “Never, Lord!” he said.  “This shall never happen to you!”  Rather than listening to the words of Jesus and allowing the words of Jesus to shape his outlook, Peter already had an outlook that he liked and he was going to try to make Jesus fit his presuppositions.  Does the Word of God shape the way your think, feel and behave?  Or does the way you already think govern how you interpret the Word of God?  It’s not an easy question.

Apparently, Peter’s outlook on life did not include a cross, for let me emphasize that not only did Jesus state that he was going to be killed, but he also added that we who are his disciples must take up our own crosses.  That we must deny ourselves and life sacrificially.  Even as Jesus did.  For he who saves his life shall lose it.  And the one who loses his life for Christ’s sake shall find it.

Matthew records the words, “take up your cross.” Luke’s Gospel adds a word.  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Take up your cross DAILY (Lk 9:23).” Taking up your cross is a mindset.  It’s an attitude.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s a day-to-day mentality that determines how you live.

Being a Christian make a difference in the way you approach your career, the way you approach marriage, the way you approach child-rearing, the way you approach your free time, the way you handle your finances, the way you choose your friends, the way you react to strangers, and on and on and on. It encompasses every aspect of your life, every minute of every day.

I heard a pastor one time say that we should all be cross-eyed.  He didn’t mean that we should literally have eyeballs that are out of alignment.  He meant that the cross should be the lens through which we view all things.  And he meant that we should always have the cross of Christ in sight.

As you know, we are living in a time of economic difficulty.  Many people, maybe people you know, are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  And the situation might get worse before it gets better.  There’s no guarantee.  There are wars being fought.  There have been two devastating earthquakes in our hemisphere recently, in Haiti and now in Chile.  Times are hard.  There is much suffering in the world.  It’s a sign of immaturity when a person thinks everything should be fun.

Even Christians are tempted toward a kind of spiritual hedonism when we think that because we are believers, then we will have no problems or that every problem has an easy solution.  There are Christians who demand God to give them miracles and prosperity when He has not promised to do so.  That’s like Peter rebuking Jesus.  God doesn’t need our advice on how to be God.  Let God be God.  Into every life, a little rain must fall.  The sun will not always shine.

During Lent, many Christians around the world fast or give something up which they enjoy.  Fasting and other forms of self-denial are beneficial practices because they help us to train our hearts not to become fixated on earthly pleasures, which are passing and will fade with time.

The greatest example of self-denial is when the Lord of Glory, the King of creation, set aside His majesty for a time, and become one of us, and lived in this fallen corrupted world.  And then, He offered up His body and blood to be a sin offering for all humankind.

Be cross-eyed every day.  Remember the cross upon which the Savior died.  It will be a tremendous comfort to you and a source of strength when you repeat to yourself the blessed fact that our sins are forgiven.  And remember to take up your cross daily, not to add to the work of Christ, but an expression of the fruits of His work.  Since we have been died for, atoned, and redeemed, we daily make sacrifices and deny ourselves in acts of love and service and mercy for others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Redeemer Mission

Proclaiming to our community in word and deed the empowering love of God as demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Redeemer Lutheran Church

Connect with Us: