Anxious…Me?

Luke 12:29-31 

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

In these six weeks after Epiphany, we are looking at Jesus’ most difficult words for His disciples, “Jesus, you really meant me?” Taking a stand by Jesus’ teaching is crucial in these days of social, economic, health and racial unrest. So we are spending time understanding how Jesus teaches us to respond.  Sunday, we heard the words of Jesus echoed in the scriptures: Do not be anxious. In Luke 12, Jesus spells out why worrying is wrong and gives us a simple solution, one that you might not wish to hear, but one that distinguishes us as true disciples of Jesus.

 

From the start, I want you to consider that the temptation to worry is little different for those who are poorer and those who are richer. I encourage you to read Luke 12:13-21. Here, Jesus speaks to the affluent about storing up possessions for the future. And now in Luke 12:22-31, He is speaking directly to His disciples about those who are worried about their daily needs…the bare essentials. If Jesus spoke to the rich about their preoccupation with getting ahead, He speaks here to those who are anxious about getting by. Though there is an obvious distinction between rich and poor, the principle is the same.

 

Being anxious about food, clothing and everyday drama takes good energy away from what God wants for us. It is like a woman worrying about how her hair looks as she is sitting in a boat about to be swept over Niagara Falls. Jesus teaches: Do not worry. And He gives us two  illustrations: the raven (not the Baltimore Ravens – Thanks Bill B.) and the wildflowers.

 

Now remember Jesus is talking to Jews when He brings up the raven. The raven is not considered a “clean” bird. And, the raven doesn’t even work for his food, yet God provides for its daily needs. Jesus reminds his disciples that they are of much greater value than birds. If God even feeds unclean birds that benefit from others’ work, don’t you think He will much more provide for humans?

 

Jesus, then, speaks of the wildflowers. These flowers are short-lived. One day they bloom with beauty; the next they are thrown into the fire as fuel. Yet the clothes of the wildflowers put the garments of Solomon to shame. Jesus is making a point here. If such unimportant and insignificant things as ravens and wildflowers receive such generous provisions from God, won’t God take care of us all the more? Can Jesus show how worry is wrong more plainly? Birds and weeds! What person, Jesus asks, has ever increased his stature (or lengthened his life) by worrying about it? We all need to answer this question frankly! If worrying is so futile an activity, why do humans love to engage it with so much time and energy?

 

In verses 29 and 30, Jesus gets to the bottom line. Worry is really fear! As people of Christ, in a world full of judgment, bad behavior, insurrection, entitlement, we are called to ramp up our faith…to not be anxious and to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! Fear or Faith, this is the question! These days, some may have even lost faith because faith is hard. Being a disciple is hard.  Jesus says: Do not be anxious for I am the epitome of goodness, power, and promises. I will provide for all your needs. Even when it’s difficult, choose faith. My fear is that when we’re consumed with temporal things, we mimic the hardness and panic of others. Why live following the world in constant frenzy? J.I. Packer says: Life’s surest certainty is that one day we will leave worldly pleasure, profit, and privilege behind. The only uncertainty is whether these things will leave us before our time comes to leave them.

 

Jesus is asking His disciples to trust Him…to make a faith statement about where our food and clothes come from; about our family members and their life and health; about this community and this nation and this world. He teaches: Seek First the Kingdom of God. The phrase translates: set your heart on or seek, look for. To seek God’s kingdom means to put your trust in God first over everything else! Paul understood it this way. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4: we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Focus on the problems and struggles of life and you get anxiety. But focus on God and his provision and you are flooded with the peace of God. What if we were to seek after the Father’s kingdom with all the energy we have previously spent focusing on the ways of the world!

 

It these weeks after Epiphany leading to Lent, search your heart and your mind. Think about what makes you anxious and recognize that you are more than your anxiety. Will you endeavor (I like that old word) to seek first the kingdom of God, knowing that and these things will be given to you as well?

 

I sure love being your pastor!  Joy, joy

Alexis                                 


Leave a Reply

^