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Integrity: Knowing and Being Your True Self

Sermon by Pastor Dave Collins. You can view the sermon at the bottom of this page!

"There is so much beauty in the world you can’t love it all. And there is so much good to do in the world, you can’t do it all. And to try to, is sin.”

- St. Augustine

You can’t do everything. You can’t even love everything. So you have to choose. This leads us to a simple question, to start our time out today.

What do you want?

It’s a simple question. It’s not always so simple to answer it though. What do I want? Hmmm… give me some suggestions, and maybe that will help. What do I want…to eat? Pizza? No. Mexican. Yes, but I just had it, so no. Where do I want to go? The beach? Too cold. The movies. Too crowded. The theme parks. Too expensive.

What do you want?

I think we’re a lot better at saying what we don’t want than what we want. Don’t you?

It’s the same for what we value. Ask me what I value and I might be able to get out a few sentences, but ask me what I hate? What drives me nuts? Well, how much time have you got? But ask me what I value most in life? That won’t be as long a talk, or nearly as interesting to listen to.

What do you want? What do you value?

Today’s message is about integrity.

Integrity comes from the word Integer, which means one whole number. When we say that we are meant to have integrity as people, and in our relationships, it means that we are meant to be the same person, the same one, wherever we are, whoever we talk to.

To have integrity is to be able to answer the question: What do I want? What do I value? What is important to me?

Now, a lot of the time, our most honest answer to that question, what do I want? Is “A snack”. Or “a nap”.

“I want to go home.” “I don’t want to be hassled.” “I just want to do what’s expected of me so that I can get some time to relax.”

But. When we do that enough, we sometimes lose the ability to tell the difference between what we want, and what others want from us.

We change depending on who we’re around. I may not be able to say what I want, but I can kind of tell what you want, so I’ll just make that happen, and that’s good enough.

You may not be able to say what you value, but you can sure recite what your mom or your dad values, so let’s just leave it at that. But then you spend time with people who have different values, and all of a sudden, those sound just as good as mom and dad’s.

And then, instead of being ONE, we end up being multiple, divided.

We end up caring too much about what others think.

We spin the truth, exaggerate, or lie to make ourselves fit in with whoever we’re with.

We avoid confrontation. And just try to keep everyone happy.

We say yes when we prefer to say no.

We disappear into our roles, our jobs, our place in the family. And even if we end up living out those roles really well, it ends up feeling phony, like we’re invisible, like no one sees us. Our contributions to the world feel tainted by it.

Our relationships end up feeling pretty lonely. Because those people in our lives don’t really know us. Because we don’t really know ourselves.

Rather than answer that question, What do you want? We try to make the question go away. We numb ourselves to it. Either with our substance of choice, or by having the day never end by having the work never end. We look at one screen all day and then come home to look at another. We take on debt to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like, with the added “benefit” of creating a new emergency every month, called “Let’s see if we lose everything.” All so we don’t have to answer that question, “What do I want?”

Do you know who always knew what he wanted? Who was completely aware of what he valued?

Jesus (It’s always safe to go with Jesus)

Jesus navigated all those expectations that others had, and never let other people’s expectation distract him from who he was, what he valued, or what he knew God had called him to do.

There was the time that his family decided that he had gone nuts. Mark tells us about it.

Mark 3:20-21, 31-34

Then he went home; 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”

Well, maybe his family weren’t the ones saying it, but “people” were saying it, and you know how bothered a family can get when “people” are talking. So whether they believed the chatter or not, they wanted it to stop.

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[c] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”