Monday, August 31, 2015

Seeking and Worrying

My sermon topics are determined months (sometimes as much as a year) in advance.  As I was preparing for last week's sermon, I realized my view on a passage of scripture has been wrong....sort of.  The passage used was Luke 12:27-32 with a parallel passage in Matthew 6:33.  Matthew says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

As I studied the passage I looked at the context of the saying.  Take yourself to the first century when it was written.  Food was not extremely available.  Bread was a staple of life.  Many lived from one day to the next.  "Give us today our daily bread" Jesus said in the Model Prayer.  He didn't ask for our weekly or monthly bread.  I'm thinking most people who lived then wondered where the next meal might be coming from.  And then there is the clothes issue.  The soldiers bartered for Jesus' garments at the cross.  He didn't have a whole wardrobe to fight over.  So Jesus uses the illustration of birds not gathering into barns and lilies of the field being dressed more beautifully than Solomon.  Then he assures the listeners that they are much more valuable then birds or flowers, so seek the kingdom of God.

As I contemplated what this means for us I started to think that we don't worry too much about food.  We have pantries full.  Our children come and look into the larders and claim there is nothing to eat. We have closets full of clothes.  We debate which shoes to wear and what shirt or dress or what accessory will make us look good.  So it's really not something we worry too much about.

There's the rub.  This passage is about worry.  So, if you don't worry about clothes or food, what is it that makes you worry?  What do think of me?  How do I look?  Do I have enough money?  How long will my car last?  Are my kinds going to turn out all right?  Am I going to heaven?  The list is endless.  We worry about everything.  Paul said, "Don't be anxious about anything."  Peter said, "Cast all your anxieties on him for he cares for you."  Jesus said, "Who of you can add a single hour to your life by worrying?"

What happens when we worry?  Worry keeps the emphasis on us and takes the focus off of Jesus. It may not be food or clothing for you.  But what is it that keeps you awake at night?  What makes your stomach churn?  Jesus said whatever you are worrying about, what you need to do is to seek the kingdom of God.  In essence, He says whatever is big in your life, God is bigger.  Whatever distracts you from God, stop worrying about it.  I think the Hebrew writer says it best when he says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great clouds of witnesses (see Hebrews chapter 11), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (worry), and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus (emphasis mine), the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:1, 2

So let's get off the throne and take off the crown and realize there is only one King.  God is on the throne and He wears the diadem.  Stop worrying and seek first the Kingdom!