“What Are We Worried About?”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
God our Father,
Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all that is:
Thank You for calling us to faith,
for planting Your Word in our hearts,
and for delivering us from our sin.
Thank You for calling us to Your service,
for giving us the ability to read Your Word
and share this good news with others. Through Christ, our Savior, Amen.
Has anyone here ever had one of those sleepless nights when after what seemed like hours you finally just gave up and went to the TV Room and started watching late night television? When I do I like to find the “oldies” stations and watch TV from the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s.
The downside to late night oldies TV is that they assume their viewers are people in their late 50s-90s! That means their commercials are for people … my age….
And what these commercials advertise for is FEAR and WORRY.
If you can sleep through the night now, gentlemen, it won’t be long before that prostate of yours will become so enlarged you’ll be getting up 4 time a night to use the bath room!
You’re too fat? You need to try these medicines. (And then watch for the possible side effects, which usually include death).
“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” You really can’t live without one of those “alarms”.
Right? The list just goes on and on.
Fear and worry is a multimillion dollar industry! It fuels the internet. It dominates political campaigns. Without something to cause us to fear or worry, what would our Facebook posts look like?
I read an article by the managing editor of an organization whose main purpose is to provide the church with Gospel-centered and Christ-focused materials called The Gospel Coalition. He writes, “On paper, we should have fewer fears than any generation before us. We’re surrounded by security systems, advanced medicine, organic food, and endless information on a glowing rectangle in our pockets.
“Yet we are deeply, miserably afraid. Far from loosening the choke hold of fear, the material blessings of our age seem only to have tightened it.” (Matt Smethurst)
A month ago we read Proverbs 1:7 which tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Next, we read Psalm 112:1 which tells us, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord, those who find great delight in His Commandments.” Then we read from I John 4 which gives us the flip side of the Fear-the-Lord coin: “God is love.” Last week we read the story in Mark’s Gospel about Jesus calming the storm on the sea, and how that made the disciples even more afraid!
Today we hear another story from Jesus’ life. Listen to these words from Luke and listen for how this applies today as well. Luke 12:29-34 …. —-
29 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.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)
This is Luke’s version of what Jesus says in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). What is Jesus saying here? “Don’t worry about your next meal” is really just the tip of the iceberg of what Jesus is really saying. And, of course, those of us that are well-fed have an easier time hearing these words than those living on the streets or in a tiny village in Kenya who honestly have no idea where their next bite might be coming from. But Jesus’ statement doesn’t change with the circumstances, the truth stays the truth regardless of the situations we find ourselves in.
“Don’t worry about what you eat or drink” really is about worrying about anything, everything, that sustains. “The truth is,” Jesus continues, “Your Father knows what you need!”
Not too many decades ago, when we asked people out on the town where they find truth their answer would likely have been something about science. Science teaches us the way this universe works. The “how” , if not the “why”, of life can be explained by science.
But today you know what the answer is? “Truth is found in yourself. Believe in yourself. Be true to yourself. Your truth is your truth, regardless of anyone else’s truth.”
I bring that up merely to point out that the “how” of science, and the relativism of today’s truth, deny that “the Father knows what you need.”
If we really “are the master of [our] fate and the captain of [our] soul”, as the poem says, then everything is riding on us! Do not mess up! That’s enough to make even Tom Brady worry!
Jesus tells us that the answer to this dilemma is simple: “Don’t be afraid, little flock, your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom!”
The truth is that God can provide and that God does care!
“Progressive” Protestantism teaches about a God who is loving, but not powerful. I would say they believe in a good God, but not a great God! He cares, but He can’t do anything to help! Some would say it like this: “He’s a nice buddy, an experienced life coach, even a world-class psychotherapist, but ultimately He’s just ‘the man upstairs’.” (Oprah Winfrey probably has more power than God in their perspective.)
Other religions offer the opposite. I’ve heard Islam described as a religion that believes that God is great, but not entirely good! He’s almighty, but not all-loving! He’s a God who can, but perhaps doesn’t care.
Neither of those is the God of the Bible, or the God whom Jesus reveals to us. In Scripture we encounter a living God who is both great and very good; sovereign and grace-filled.
If God were only good, kind, caring, but not great and almighty, I would go to bed frightened every night! I watch the news. I know what we are capable of. I have a son who lives halfway around the world – I would fear for his safety every day. I would worry for my daughters every night. How could I worship a God who, bless His heart, was trying His darn best and means well, but He’s just not able?
But what if He were only sovereign and not merciful, all-powerful but not loving? That would be worse!
What we have been learning these past several weeks is that fearing God is the answer to all our worries! Someone has said that “we fear man so much because we fear God so little”.
And it’s not that we fear God because He’s mean and nasty, but because He’s holy! John Flavel, an English Presbyterian Pastor from the 17th Century, once said, “Godly fear does not rise from a perception of God as hazardous, but glorious!” C.S. Lewis’ Aslan tells Lucy that he’s “not safe, but he’s good.”
In today’s reading from Luke 12, Jesus urges His disciples not to be anxious, since their Father in heaven is both infinitely great and perfectly good. “Fear not, little flock, for it is Your Father’s good pleasure,” Jesus says, “to give you His Kingdom!”
Did you hear it? Jesus names God as Shepherd, Father and King! This God of Scripture, and only this God, is the Shepherd who seeks us, the Father who adopts us, and the King who has all the authority and power and still loves us!
Psalm 23 tells us “the Lord is my shepherd”, and that truth is worth remembering. But Revelation 7 makes this truth even bigger when it says that this Lord is the Lamb of God who is sacrificed for us.
The One who crafted us in His image is the same One who pursued us, lived for us, died for us, rose for us, intercedes for us, and will return for us! All we need do is receive Him and believe in Him.
Fearing God means we never really need to fear anything in this world, we need not worry about tomorrow, because, the truth is, God has been faithful or our every yesterday and He will be faithful for our every tomorrow!
God is great, almighty; and God is good, loving and caring!
Living and gracious God,
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
You have brought us out to a grace-filled place
where we are called to live as those redeemed.
Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to keep Your commandments,
that we may show forth Your love
with gentle word and reverent deed
always, everywhere. Amen.
Smethurst, Matt; “What Are We Afraid Of?”; TableTalk; January 2018; Pp. 6-9.