O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Don’t Worry, You’re Covered
Don’t Worry, You’re Covered
Based on Luke 12:22-34
Preached on August 7, 2016
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Fellow baptized saints, last week we heard that life is more than having lots of stuff – you know, the things we want. Well, today Jesus stretches our minds even further - by teaching us that life is more than having the essentials – yes, even our most basic needs. This morning, it’s like He’s targeted the very deepest part of us, and spoken His words into our most rooted anxiety – what we think we need to survive. He says, “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
Well I’m sorry Jesus, but that would appear to run counter to the prevailing opinion here in South Saint Vital. Life seems to be defined by food and clothing, coupled with endless entertainment and an almost insatiable desire for electronic gadgets. Life is more than food? You wouldn’t know it by our obsessions with calories, fat grams, and carbs. The body more than clothing? Well, shoes too. You have to have the right shoes, don’t you?
We need clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home. Those are primary needs, in fact, we’re not going to worry about anything else until those are taken care of. And Jesus comes to us this morning and says, “Don’t worry. Don’t be anxious about your life, or even the most basic of your needs. Your Father in heaven has you covered. Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry? Has Jesus looked at the economy lately? Unemployment is up. Gross domestic product and our dollar are down. And my retirement fund isn’t doing much of anything. Come on, who is alive and aware these days and not worried about something having to do with the means to support this body and life? Don’t be anxious? Get real!
But here is the reality: Anxiety is a liturgy. A worship service. It’s the worship we offer our false gods when they’ve failed to deliver on the goods. We put our trust in this or that earthly need. But when we realize that our religious transactions aren’t working and we are left without an apparent safety net under us, the anxiety mounts and grows. Sleepless nights, churning stomachs, headaches, heart palpitations, stress, the list goes on. Anxiety is like a cancer of the soul, consuming us from the inside, paralyzing us, disordering our lives, our eating, our drinking, our priorities. Anxiety eats away at us like rust, corroding our souls until there is nothing left but a shell.
Don’t be anxious, Jesus says. He knows what He’s talking about. He’s the Lord of creation. He’s the One who died and rose again. And He’s intimately familiar with your anxieties. He worked the family trade. He knew the uncertainties of a family business. He came to bear the sin of the world on His shoulders. He was the “Man of Sorrows,” personally acquainted with our suffering. Do you imagine that didn’t involve some potential anxiety?
Jesus knew His disciples’ hearts and He knows yours. He knew that He had called them away from their fishing boats and tax collectors office. And there were probably days when they wondered aloud, “What are we going to eat today? How will we afford clothing when ours wears out?” They were following someone who had no place to lay His head, who didn’t promise them wealth and prosperity like the prosperity preachers you hear today. Jesus never promised them any of that. Instead He promised them hardship and persecutions in this life, yet eternal life in a kingdom that has no end.
Consider the ravens, Jesus says to His anxious disciples. Look at the birds. They neither sow nor reap nor store in barns, and yet God feeds them. Yes, they spend the bulk of their day looking for food. And yes, they work their feathered tails off building nests. But in the end, they can only play the hand they are dealt. They can’t rearrange their environment the way we can. They are completely dependent on their environment. “And yet God feeds them.” The hidden hand of God cares even for the birds of the air. And if He cares about the birds, don’t you think He cares about you? You are worth so much more than a bird.
Consider the lily and its beauty. They don’t weave or spin or shop at Nygaard, yet even Solomon in all his over the top bling wasn’t decked out like one of them. And aren’t you worth more than plants, which are here today and gone tomorrow?
Does anxiety put daily bread on the table? Not a crumb. Does anxiety put clothes on your children? Not a stitch. Does anxiety pay the mortgage or the rent? Not a dime. Does anxiety add a single hour to your life? No. But it will make the hours you have totally miserable.
Jesus calls His anxious disciples “little faith - ones.” Little faith is better than no faith, I suppose, but it’s still not the way of faith to be anxious over things. Faith is trust, trust that your Father in heaven knows what you need even before you ask. Trust that your value to God is so much greater than the birds and the flowers. His Only Son was sent to die for you – all the rest is automatic.
We’re given an example of trust this morning. 99 year old Abram and his childless wife of a similar age – lined up to give his entire fortune to some distant relative. And the Lord says to childless Abram, “Look up in the sky and take a census of the stars. Count them, if you can. Here’s my promise to you, Abram. So shall your offspring be. You will have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky even though you don’t even have a kid right now.
Abram believed the Lord. He trusted. He took the Lord at His Word, as improbable and unlikely as that Word was. He trusted the Promise that against all odds, against all that he knew of reproductive biology, against all common sense, he would be the father of many - that through his offspring, all nations of the world – all peoples would be blessed. He believed, that is, he trusted. And God counted this faith of Abram as righteousness.
This is a key verse in the New Testament – faith counted as righteousness - It is a key and central verse with the apostle Paul, that a sinner, like you or me, stands justified before God by grace through faith. That it is our simple trust in God’s promise that is counted as righteousness. That’s the incredible thing about faith – it relies entirely on the promise.
Think about it. You don’t have the thing in your hand. You can’t even see it – but as the book of Hebrews says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It’s being so sure of the outcome, even before it happens, that you bank your entire life on it. You orient yourself around it. You design and landscape your daily focus on this promise. Life is more than food and clothing – it is faith in Christ.
Here’s a picture of faith that I’d like to share. I left my family on vacation last week, and came back to Winnipeg ahead of them. Before I left, I told my son when he saw me next I’d have his remote control boat charged and ready for him to play with. Then it started, a couple days after I left them. “Daddy’s got my remote control boat ready at home.” Then the next day, “When I get home, I get to play with my remote control boat.” Eventually it was, “Mom, I want to go home. Daddy is waiting with my remote control boat. He’s got the batteries charged you know. He told me.” He began telling neighbours, people he’d met only once. He had complete confidence. He was entirely sure of the outcome before it even happened.
Beloved, you can be that certain of your Father in heaven. Of His Son Jesus Christ who has returned to heaven ahead of you. Before He left, He told you “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Your remote control boat is charged and ready. Say it. Confess it outloud everyday. Daddy’s got my kingdom ready. When I get home, I’ll be in my Father’s house. I want to go home. My heavenly Father is waiting to show me the face of His Son, you know. He told me. You might even tell your neighbours, people you met only once.
Your name is on that list with Enoch, Noah, Abraham and others who trust God, who took Him at His Word and whose lives were oriented around the Promise. They died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar. They knew there was a better country awaiting them, a better city built by God, and they oriented their entire lives around this promise. And yes, the world thought them crazy and deluded and deranged, but God is not ashamed to be called their God. You stand with them. They are your people. Christ is your promise.
Life is more than food and clothing. Life is faith – in Christ. Beloved, you have the kingdom. The Father has promised it; the Son has won it; the Spirit delivers it. Don’t be anxious about your life. The Lord has you covered. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr