Do you ever find yourself dwelling on these things:
- Do I have real friends?
- What if I don’t get that promotion?
- What if I never find a spouse?
- If I do find someone will they be faithful?
- Am I worth marrying?
- Will I be able to have kids?
- If I have kids, how will they turn out?
- What about my health? Friends and family I know have cancer, could that one day be me?
- What if I develop Alzheimer’s and perish unable to even recognise the people I love?
I do ... most of them actually. I suppose it’s normal to feel this way. But, how do I fix it and why do I feel this way?
I suppose one answer is in Luke 12:22-34 (you know, the one about the ravens who do not sow nor reap and are still fed. The one about the lilies and how they grow in all their glory and how God clothes the grass and if He does this to all things He loves, how much more will He bless you … the thing He loves most).
What is Jesus saying here and how does this relate to the 21st Century in a first world country where we seem to have everything at our disposal?
This got me thinking about the fundamentals of worry. This might sound bad, but it stems from greed. In our consumerist society we are fed images of wealth and prosperity and one can easily start to believe, by means of clever marketing, that this is what it means to be happy. I am sure you know what I mean, but this stems from greed. The marketing tells us we need these things and we develop “covetous greed” (I want my share of this) or “complacent greed” (I already have this so I don’t care about other things anymore). These two “greeds” rob us of a relationship with Jesus Christ and for what we were made for and cast us into a world of worry and anxiety.
However, I now ask myself, why do I worry? Why do I dwell on these things? I discovered an answer to this by asking “What is it I am worrying about?” Selfish things, right? All directed at my covetous nature! Also, partly the illusion that I think I can control these things which I worry about and that by dwelling on them I can somehow come up with a plan to solve my worries. By understanding I cannot control these things, the alternative Jesus offers becomes very, very precious.
Jesus points out to us in the last sentence of the passage that life is uncertain yes, but more importantly He is pointing to something within all us. “O ye of little faith”. Remember, this does not mean “No faith”. I agree, we have to work to survive and need money to live our lives comfortably, but we don’t need to make this our life objective. Everyone in the world wants these “covetous” possessions. It’s human nature. But Jesus says to us “Your Father knows you need these things. But seek first his Kingdom and all these things will be added to you”.
A BIG statement right? One author describes this “lack of faith” like a flashlight flickering in the darkness. When we want (or have) these things to alleviate our worries we lose sight of God. You might say that you still pray and ask for these worries to be lifted, but is that really what you want from your God? To basically be a miracle maker to solve your problems? Perhaps, we are missing the point?
We have this illusion that once we are married, have a house, have kids, have some savings, have a job, have health, etc. that all will be ok. But are we not storing our treasures in the wrong places? Are we not building our houses on sand, where what we treasure most is so vulnerable and can be taken away and destroyed, that we actually set ourselves up for anxiety?
But Jesus promises us so much in Luke 12:22-34. Here they are:
Your life is worth SO much more than (insert your worry here)! Think about money, Jesus says that if your life is made by money, it will be unmade by lack of it. Jesus says look at the world around you and how he provides for the ravens (a bird not very liked and associated with death). Even if he will provide for a bird that even the Old Testament views as dirty and a thief, imagine how much MORE he will care for you! Jesus also says, “which of you by worrying can add a cubit to his span?” a cubit being a form of measurement and one’s life being viewed as a journey we walk through, how does worrying “add” to your life journey. The distance you will go in life. It adds nothing…you won’t go any further in life if you always worry.
Let’s look at the lilies section of the verse. Slightly different to the ravens. This time jesus talks about being clothed. Not being clothed in physical clothes (we covered that in point (1)). This metaphor talks about being clothed in nothing less than radiant glory. He says here “Why do you worry about what to wear?” God clothes you in His own Glory. “Why worry about your health” God will raise you from the dead to eternal life. “Why worry about money” God says you will inherit the Earth. “Why worry about people liking you” God will make you live in the Kingdom of His love. “The Father knows you need these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you”. Jesus reassures us that if we get the big things straightened out, we will have what need in the little things. What everyone else in the world is obsessed with God makes a distant second. He will give you what you need to live on, if you need Him in order to live.
This is a complex way to look at worry, but in the end if you forget everything else I wrote just remember that God loves you so much he sent his only Son to die for us so that we may be forgiven and that there may be no more death, fear or anxiety in our lives and that we are liberated from sin.
This is huge, so NEVER forget that it is your Father’s PLEASURE to give you the kingdom. God is our Father and delights in us. So don’t worry ;)
You brother in Christ