Lose the Bag

By putting our faith in Jesus our burdens can be lifted.

Linn Winters
May 27, 2018    34m
Pastor Winters discusses the baggage we carry in our lives from past hurts and injustice. Or possibly baggage from bad decisions we have made. He explores how we can let go of our burden if we place our faith in Jesus to carry our baggage. That Jesus can set us free from our burdens. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn Winters: 00:23 Hey Cornerstone, how you guys doing? Super glad that you're here and part of this. So I think you've heard we're starting a brand new series today that we're calling baggage, and this is for every last one of us in the room, because chances are we all have it. We've all had moments in our lives that whatever happened, it may have been something we brought on ourselves, it may be something that somebody else did to us, it may be a moment when God absolutely confused us, but in that moment we stopped and we said man I'm changed. I'm changed because that happened in my life, and I have got to start navigating life differently. Often that difference, that shift that we do, is some baggage that we carry along with us. Because we say, "Hey, I just don't ever want to feel that way again, I don't ever want to be hurt that way again, and so I'm going to start doing some defensive things. I'm going to build up a couple of walls, that are going to keep me from ever experiencing that pain." And we begin to navigate life from that moment forward with some baggage.

Linn Winters: 01:29 There's times when you just kind of think, man, is life just kind of like trying to run in and dodge a bunch of raindrops? Is it like I'm running through life and stuff's coming at me from every direction, and I'm not sure exactly what it is. I'm just trying not to get hit too much. And then we get to the other side, and the only consolation you and I've got is we look at the guy next to us and go, man, you are way more screwed up than me. You have tons more baggage than I do. Is that what it is? And are you and I basically just relegated to having to live with our baggage, having to live with whatever horrible bad things that happened in her life and whatever way that they affected us, do we just have to navigate life with whatever baggage our life happens to bring to us?

Linn Winters: 02:23 Here's the good news...that Jesus said, you don't have to carry your baggage, you don't have to live the rest of your life the victim of the circumstances, and the bad behaviors of other people, or maybe even the ill mistakes that you made. You don't have to live with baggage in your life if you'll let me help. Matter of fact, there's an amazing passage in scripture where Jesus is talking about this very topic. He's talking about baggage. You don't have to go there. I'll read it for you. I just hope you'll hear a ton of hope in what Jesus says in this passage about baggage. It's Matthew Chapter Eleven, Verse Twenty Eight, and again you don't have to turn there, I'll read it to you. But I think this in many ways ought to be the theme passage for the entire conversation that we're gonna have over the next few weeks. Here's what Jesus said about baggage, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened." All of you that life has just piled on, and now you've got all of this stuff that's not necessarily healthy, but you're carrying it with you because of what's happened to you. And he says, "I will give you rest."

Linn Winters: 03:39 Guys, there are some of us in this room that say, That's almost unimaginable. That this load that I'm carrying, this burden that seems to be my lot in life, that I actually could have relief and rest from this."

Linn Winters: 03:56 "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden Jesus says, is light." Which then takes you and me to a couple of questions. If Jesus is saying, look, if you can figure out this following me thing, you need to know that my yoke, the thing that I've called you to is actually easy. So if you and I find ourselves in a moment when we go, man, I'm just telling you my life, my life feels crushing. I'm telling you that the stuff that's happened to me, and what I've had to do in response to that, it is heavy. Then here's the question. Is it possible that you're carrying things, that Jesus never asked you to carry? That you've got a load, that you were never intended to pick up in the first place? And then Jesus says, when you learn of me, when you begin to understand that following me, forgiving some people for some things they've done, forgiving yourself for some things you done, leaning in when you don't understand what God is doing, when you begin to learn of me, it's when your baggage will finally slip off your back. And you and I suddenly in a moment, have hope.

Linn Winters: 05:36 I just want you to hang onto that while we unpack our story today because we're going to go and look at the life of a guy whose life has baggage, maybe bigger baggage than most of us in this room, and Jesus stops to have a conversation with him about his baggage. And is you and I kind of listen in. We're going to learn what it would mean for you and I to take our baggage and set it aside. So here we go, grab your bibles. It's John Chapter Five, and if you're not familiar if you go to the back of your Bible, start working to the left you're going to find this book of John. John Chapter Five. It's part of what we call the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the four stories about the life of Jesus. John Chapter Five. Let me set up this moment. So Jesus has gone to Jerusalem, there's a feast going on at the time, and when he gets there he ends up at a place called the pool of Bethesda. Now the pool of Bethesda, there was actually a natural spring outside of Jerusalem. King Hezekiah digs through stone a canal that brings the water from outside into the city. It then pools up in this place called the pool of Bethesda. Now there's, and we don't know for sure if is this true, is it superstition, scripture doesn't tell us. But there seems to be this idea that if you are the first person to step into the water, whenever the water trembles he idea was then an angel would come and the water would move, and if you were the first person to step into the water you'd be healed.

Linn Winters: 07:25 Again we don't know is that actually true, or is it just superstition in the day, we don't know. But because of it, there are all sorts of people who have infirmity, all sorts of diseases, all hanging out at the pool of Bethesda. And now Jesus comes there and he runs into one man in particular who's been lame for thirty eight years and he has a conversation with this man about his baggage. So here we go. John Chapter Five, starting in verse one, here's what it says, "Sometime later, Jesus went to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish feasts. Now there was in Jerusalem, near the sheep gate, a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" Dumbest question ever. I mean stop to think about that. You want to go, Hey Jesus, wait, wait, wait, you're the son of God, is that really your best question? The man's been an invalid for thirty eight years and the best you can come up with is do you want to be well? Of course he wants to be well, I mean that's obvious, right? Maybe not, maybe not and actually what, on first blush, looks like a really dumb question might actually be the best question.

Linn Winters: 09:18 Back to the passage. "Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I'm trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. Then Jesus said to him get up, pick up your mat, and walk. At once the man was cured and he picked up his mat and he walked. The day on which he took place was the Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, it's the Sabbath the law forbids you from carrying your mat." Now think about this for a second, the man's been healed, and all the Jewish leaders can see is that he is carrying his mat on the Sabbath. I wonder how many times we miss the wonder of God because he doesn't fit inside the box that we were expecting him in? But he replied, "Hey, there was this dude and he made me well, and he said pick up your mat and walk. So I'm just doing what the guy said." That's his answer.

Linn Winters: 10:19 You get this guy's got baggage. He's got thirty eight years of baggage, and here's the deal, we don't know how he ended up paralyzed. Maybe he was that way from birth, maybe he's 38 years old and he was born that way. Which then, you and I already know the questions he's trying to answer. You already know that he's going, hey God, wait, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, how is this fair? I mean, why, why would a loving God let this happen to me, if you're so loving? And if I can't trust you with this, then God whoa, whoa, whoa, how can I trust you with anything? If you could be this wrong about this. And some of us in the room, we get this right? Because you've had exactly that conversation with God. You say, whoa, wait, wait, wait, wait, so how is it fair that my sister died? How is it fair that my child was born with disability? How is it fair that I got laid off from my job, and I've done my job really well? How's that fair, God? And I'm just telling you if I can't trust you for this, I'm going to have a hard time trusting you for anything else. This is baggage for me.

Linn Winters: 11:45 We don't know, maybe somebody did this to him. You know maybe there was some Roman soldier walking through the town, he saw a group of young boys playing, and he just decided to make an example out of one. And so he grabbed this guy, threw him on the ground, stomped on his back. We don't know, maybe him and his friends were playing, and his friend picked up a big stick and swung it around and it just happened to crack his neck at the right spot. But if that were the case, then the question becomes hey God why would I ever let anybody get close again? Why would I not just take my life, and hide it away, and sit in the corners of life? Because here's the deal, the last time I let someone get close, the last time I allowed somebody in my life, I'm just telling you, it didn't turn out so well.

Linn Winters: 12:36 And you and I've had the same conversation. Hey God, see my friend told me they'd be with me, and then they betrayed. And I'm just telling you the hurt of that makes me not want to be close to anybody ever again. Because I never want to feel that again. And I'm just telling you, you can call it baggage, you can call it whatever you want. I call it safety, I call it healthy.

Linn Winters: 13:14 Maybe he did it to himself. Maybe he was out with a group of friends, and they were just horsing around, and they were jumping off a cliff into a pond. And the first three friends went off and they were all fine, he just happened to hit the spot that was shallow. Boom, snapped his neck. And now he's going, look, look, God, I get it. I get I should have checked how deep it was. I get that maybe that was a little bit of a reckless decision, but I was young.

Linn Winters: 13:39 It's what you and I've said when we say no, no, I, I know, I know, I know, I know, I never should have dated them, I know. I know when my friends were saying, hey, come on everybody else is doing it, and I did it, and it just...and I get it, I get it. I get that a lot of what's broken in my life, and a lot of what screwed up in my life, I did it in my life. But I'm just telling you, that's why I'll never going to surrender control of my life again. Because I'm going to be in charge of my life, and I'm going to keep myself safe from that again. It's baggage, it's baggage. And here's what you got to get. What you and I do with our baggage, what you and I do with the moments when others are unfair, or God is not understandable, or when somebody does something to us, or we've even done something to ourselves, what we do in that moment determines what the baggage does to us. And you and I really end up with two choices. You and I, in that moment, can say hey, you know what I just chose to trust God with this. It didn't turn out like I hoped, that's not what I expected. I'm going to tell you I'm heartsick and heartbroken over it, but I'm just going to take my baggage, I'm going to take my woundedness, and before it becomes a scar, and before it becomes a place of real. I'm just gonna give it to him to deal with, and there's a wonder in this moment that when you and I give our baggage to God, he takes it in places that on the cross and it changes your baggage. Or you and I can say, no, I'm just going to trust me. I'm going to come up with some sort of personalized defensive plan to make sure that I never, never, never, never feel that pain again, feel that rejection again, feel that hurt again, and so I'm going to navigate my own baggage. And so we have moments with people and we say, hey, I, I trusted that friend and that friend betrayed, and I'm just telling you no one's ever going to get that close again. That's how I'm going to defend against this moment. We have moments when somebody in authority absolutely betrayed. They did what was unspeakable, and so we just said, you know what? I'll never let anybody be the boss of me again. I don't want to feel that hurt, I don't want to ever feel that helpless. And so we come up with any variety of self-designed, self controlling proposals, that in the end are simply baggage.

Linn Winters: 16:40 And here's the problem. When you and I try to navigate the pain and the unfairness in our own strength, and our own way, it becomes attached to us. You and I relegate our lives to have to carry this around for the rest of our lives. You and I will never know relief from this, as long as you and I decide to own this. Which simply means this. You'll never go in life where you should've gone, you'll never get as far, or be as healthy as you should have been in life, with baggage in your life.

Linn Winters: 17:18 If I asked you right now, if I just said, hey, we're going to put 40 pounds on your back, and you're going to run a mile. Half of you would die, okay, It's just the truth. The other half here's what we know, look we don't even have to go test the theory, you and I already know it logically. The other half, the ones of us that ran the mile, you would not get there as fast as you would have if he hadn't been carrying the 40 pounds. It'll be harder to run that mile than it would have been if you hadn't carried the weight. You think it's any different in our lives when we attach baggage to ourselves? I'm just telling you, you will not get as fa, you will be slow down, it will encumber every part of your life if you decide to navigate life with baggage. It will change your relationships. So here's what you'll do, you'll go, look, I don't want to feel that pain again, I don't want to feel the betrayal again, I don't want anyone to get that close again, and you'll put a force field around your life that people will not be able to penetrate. But you'll be safe, you'll be able to trust your defenses.

Linn Winters: 18:36 I've got a friend, his dad, as he was growing up hyper controlling, hyper controlling, hypercritical. And so my friend as he kind of came of age, and left the house. He simply said this, I will never, never, never, never, never let anybody control me again. I'm going to fix this. When I met him, he was working as an intern at a church. And he said to me, he says, Linn I've just got to get out of this church. The leaders in this church are idiots, and I know, I know, I know, I'm only an intern, but the problem is I'm smarter than everybody else at this church, and it's driving me crazy. I've got to leave. I made the naive mistake of hiring him to come work at church with me. Within two years, he was sitting me down and telling me what an idiot I was as a leader and a supervisor. The only consolation I got, is that when he went to the next church, it only took him six months to get worn out there and decide they didn't know what they were doing. Eventually my friend decides I don't belong in ministry, because apparently everybody in ministry has no clue about how to lead or what they're doing. So then he became an apprentice at a woodworking shop. After two years of apprenticing, and working under a guy who taught him everything he knew. He set the guy down and said, you really don't know how to be a very good woodworker. He then decided that he would be an assistant manager at a high end restaurant. Anybody want to guess? Six months. Six months, and he's telling the manager, you don't know how to manage. He then decided that he wanted to work for the fire department. So he spent the next three years kind of doing little odd jobs, not really working at all, because after all his goal was to work at the fire department. He eventually passed all the exams, got hired at the fire department. And all of us that knew him said, hey, well maybe. Maybe with the flexibility, maybe the fire department's going to work out. I'm sitting down with my friend just a few days ago. Guess what he said to me, "Man, I got to quit the fire department. These guys are a bunch of idiots." You get that my friend's problem is not that he had a string of 12 horrible bosses. Because I know for a fact that at least one of them was pretty good. You get that my friend has baggage. That it was true and look, I'm not minimizing, it was true. His Dad was horrible. His Dad was hard on him, and hypercritical to him. The problem for my friend is that my friend decided to manage it himself. And the moment he decided to manage it himself, and the minute he said, I'll never let anybody else control me, he took on baggage. That meant he was never again going to be able to listen to somebody offer any input, or any critique in his life.

Linn Winters: 21:59 See there's some of us, and you were in a relationship, you had a friend, and you thought you were gonna be friends forever. I mean you'd given your heart to them. You thought they'd given their heart to you, and then they betrayed. At the worst possible moment, they were gossiping about you, they took off. And you were left in that moment and you said to yourself, I am never going to feel this pain again. I'm never going to let somebody betray me that deeply again. So my decision is I'm simply going to hold everybody from this day on at arm's length. You're only going to get skin deep with me. Here's the problem, you've got people in your life right now who would love to be your friend, who would love to walk life with you, and come alongside you, and they can't. Because you're still holding them at length because of the baggage that you're carrying from this person. And you realize these new friends, they had nothing to do with your pain, but you cannot let them in because your baggage is in the way.

Linn Winters: 23:10 There are some of us in this room, and somebody did something to you, they violated you physically. And you just simply said in that moment, look I don't ever want to feel that again. And so you have struggled with intimacy because of what was truly done. But now you're in a marriage and your spouse doesn't receive from you, the freely given of your heart and your body. Because of what somebody else did, and now they're living with the harm of it, because you chose to navigate this on your own. You're carrying the baggage, and it's affecting every other part of your life.

Linn Winters: 24:09 My friend, my friend who lost all the jobs. You don't think that his family didn't feel it. Every time he quit, and every time they had to relocate. Imagine my friend who refused to have any control the minute his wife said something he thought was critical. And guys, I'm just telling you, baggage will literally invade and destroy every other relationship that you've got in your life. It's why baggage is too heavy to take on the journey.

Linn Winters: 24:48 So then Jesus, Jesus comes back to that dumb question. He says to the guy, Hey, do you really want to be well? And on first blush you and I go, of course he wants to be well Jesus, of course he does. The man's been an invalid for thirty eight years, he's laying next to the pool of Bethesda so he can roll in when the water trembles, of course he wants to be well.

Linn Winters: 25:22 Are you sure? Or is it possible that he has actually become accustomed to being an invalid? That if you really began to unpack his life and say, well you know, here's the deal, I mean I've got all of my other sick friends. And if I wasn't sick I don't know, you know, I probably wouldn't be hanging there. I found this little corner over here, and I've got my shelves all in place with my little knick-knacks and souvenirs on it, my sister comes and brings me food three times a day. I mean I kind of got this thing working, it's not perfect, but it's working for me. Are you sure he hasn't become comfortable with being an invalid?

Linn Winters: 26:11 Because, you ready for this, because you and I we've become comfortable with our anger. See we would say, look here's the deal, I'm angry because of what was unfair in my life, and because of what people did in my life, but boy, my anger is serving me really, really well. I'm telling you when I flash,, when I blow up, I can get people to do what I want them to do. I get people to do things they don't want to do, because I want them to do it, and they do simply so that I'll calm down. My anger is actually been helpful to me. And the truth be told if I were to bring that to Jesus, he'd probably tell me I'd have to be kind. And I'm thinking if I was kind, people would take advantage of me, people would walk all over me if I gave up my anger and actually became kind. So I'm just telling you, I'm pretty comfortable with my baggage. It's working for me.

Linn Winters: 27:14 Some of us have got bitterness. You know that person, that did that thing, and we just got a box. We got this bitterness box and whenever that person's name is brought up, whenever anybody does something that kind of reminds us of them, we just reach right up there and we pull our bitterness box off the shelf and we just spew. We just recount every wrong that they ever did in our lives. And we should go, you know what the truth is, it feels good to spew it out and to say it. And I got a feeling that if I were to take that to Jesus, Jesus would say, Hey, I want you to forgive them. I want you to forgive them despite the fact that they have not asked, despite the fact that they don't even know how badly they hurt you. I want you to forgive. And I'm just telling you, I think I kind of like my baggage.

Linn Winters: 28:14 So I'm going to ask you the question. Do you want to be healed? Do you want to take this, that you've been carrying, this thing that's been so heavy in your life. Are you really ready for it to be gone? Would you really want Jesus to heal?

Linn Winters: 28:43 And then Jesus says something. He says, pick up your mat. Now, I don't know what happens in this moment. Because remember Jesus asked the question, hey do you want to be healed? And Jesus has come to the belief that he really does. And I don't know, remember the phrase the man says back, he says hey, you know I can't be healed because I've got this plan about how I'm going to be healed and somebody's gonna help me get in the water. And I don't know as he began to explain that, that he began to realize the silliness of his excuses, and that his voice trails off and maybe he hangs his eyes at the end. Something happens that Jesus believes he wants to be healed, and so Jesus says to him, pick up your mat. Now here's why that's interesting. You don't think this guy hasn't tried to pick up his mat every single day for thirty eight years, and for thirty eight years he has failed on every attempt. And yet Jesus asked him to do the very same thing that he's already tried a thousand times, but this time he says, I want you to do it trusting me. Not trusting your strength to pick up the mat, trusting my strength to pick up the mat, and in that moment he understands. Jesus you're asking me to take my brokenness, you're asking me to take my baggage, and in your strength bring it to you.

Linn Winters: 30:17 We've got some in the room and your baggage has an awful lot to do with what you've done. You, if you were being honest today, you'd say, Linn I have made bad decision after bad decision, I have regret, I feel guilt. And Jesus would say to you want to be healed? Pick up your mat, bring it to me, I'll nail that guilt to a cross. We call it becoming a Christian. When Jesus takes the baggage we've done ourselves and places it on himself.

Linn Winters: 30:59 There's Christians in the room, and you struggled. You've said, hey, wait a minute. If God is fair, why did he let this happen? Why was that person allowed to treat me that way? Why did God allow this to occur in my life? And Jesus says, do you want to be healed? Pick up your mat, give it to me, and suddenly baggage gets hung on a tree.

Linn Winters: 31:29 Okay I can tell by the blank stares that some of you aren't getting it yet. All right so here's what we're going to do. Alright, someone got a camera? Follow me, here we go. Here we go, come on. Are you coming? Come on, you're supposed to be a professional, come on.

Linn Winters: 32:08 Okay, so here's what it means for you and I to take our mat. It simply means, hey there's stuff that I've done, there's stuff that I'm responsible for and I'm just going to take it to Jesus. I'm going to let Jesus have the baggage of my life. It may mean for some of us saying, hey, you know what? I'm simply going to take the things that other people have done to me and I'm going to forgive them even though they haven't asked me. I'm going to take the wound and the hurt, the baggage that's been a result of that, and I'm going to stop managing it myself. I'm going to give it to Him. Some of us just need to lean into a moment where we say, God I don't understand what you were doing. I don't understand why you allowed this to happen to me, but I'm simply going to lean in. I'm simply going to trust that you know what I don't know. That moment would be taking our mat. That moment would be like picking up our baggage and taking it to the cross. It would look something like this. How cool is that? And the reality is that when you and I finally get done with our baggage. When we're finally willing to say, God, I'm done managing this myself, I'm done trying to protect myself, and I'm bringing my baggage to the cross. He destroys our baggage.

Linn Winters: 33:58 Let's pray. Dear Lord Jesus, we simply come to the moment and we've just got to tell you, our hearts are heavy and we've grown weary carrying our baggage. Thank you. Thank you for the invitation you gave when you said come and learn of me, because my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. And today God we need to feel light. So we're bringing our baggage to you. We're asking you to crush it at the cross. And this we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286