Journey to Jerusalem: Come Without Worry
Luke 12: 22-34
Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
It sneaks up on you. There you are, enjoying your favorite TV show, when suddenly the thought occurs to you: when did you last change the batteries in the smoke alarm? You imagine a kitchen appliance shorting out in the middle of the night and sparking a small fire (the smoke alarm fails to go off because, you know, batteries), which grows into a blazing inferno, destroying your home and all your belongings. In your imagination you barely get out alive with your family and pets. Then there’s insurance: do you have enough to rebuild the house and replace everything? Do you even know what you own? Maybe you should do an inventory, just in case. And just like that, before the next commercial you are eaten up by worry.
All of us get anxious sometimes, but when we start to ruminate on what has made us anxious, that’s worry. Research tells us there are two kinds of worry: productive worry and pathological worry. If our worry compels us to action (change the smoke alarm batteries now!) and then we can move on, it has been productive. But if even taking action doesn’t alleviate our ruminating, we might just be a pathological worrier. Jesus had some strong but reassuring words about the kind of worry that keeps us awake at night or monopolizes our thinking during the day. “Look,” he said. “Notice the ravens. Are they worried about what they’ll eat? No, they just go about their business, trusting that they’ll find food because God provides for them. And look at the flowers: do they worry about how they look? No, they just blossom, showing off the natural beauty God gave them. If God takes care of the birds and flowers, how much more will he take care of you, his precious children?”
Instead of being consumed with worry, which focuses our attention on ourselves, Jesus tells us to seek God’s kingdom first. If we concern ourselves with what concerns God, we can then rely on him to provide everything we need. We can stop worrying and trust him. What does seeking his kingdom look like? The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Corinth about the difference between the ephemeral and the eternal. Everything material, he wrote, everything we can see is temporary and will pass away. But everything we can’t see will go on forever. So if we spend our lives gathering up material things, especially things we don’t need, we are wasting our time, money, and storage space. Instead, we should pursue the eternal things, like justice, mercy, and faith. With acts of kindness and love we build up a storehouse of treasure that can never be taken away from us or destroyed.
Our world is remarkable in its abundance. There is enough of everything for everyone who lives on planet Earth. Yet, many people are hungry or even starving. Many don’t have access to clean water or basic sanitation. Many don’t have proper clothing or a home to live in. Doesn’t God care about them? When God made the world, he placed humans in it and tasked us with stewardship. We don’t own his creation: we are its caretakers. Knowing that the world has more than enough resources for everyone, yet some go without basic necessities, we must conclude that the problem isn’t supply. It’s poor management. “Sell what you have and give to the poor,” Jesus taught. There’s plenty for everyone as long as we share. As long as some don’t hoard, preventing others from having what they need. God loves all his children, and he provides for everyone but not in equal measure. Those of us who have much can share with those who have little, and in so doing we partner with Jesus in building the kingdom of heaven here on earth, one act of mercy at a time.
Written by Phyllis Yearick
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