Part of the sermon on the mount
Jesus teaches about a whole range of things, beginning with the beatitude through to divorce, and how we should treat our enemy, through to prayer, he gives us the Lord’s prayer. We get a teaching on being charitable in action and then he teaches about storing up treasures not on earth but in heaven, followed by a whole section dedicated to ‘do not be anxious’.
It’s interesting that up until this point the themes have been really big and profound, and core level challenging, and then he gets to this point and it appears things change in intensity, especially when we look at it through today’s lens, where we may have societies where financial charity is not uncommon, even though our laws, and social expectations are moving further and further away from true charity, from true love. In a society that leans on minimalistic trends, not storing up treasures on earth, doesn’t seem all that profound, and then to be told ‘don’t worry’ again doesn’t seem all that profound.
– Matthew 6: 25-34 – Do not be anxious:
– 25 “Stina: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
o Past – Remember that at the time of Jesus on earth, and to the people he was most likely preaching this sermon to, most people would not have been exceptionally wealthy. He, himself, came from a poor upbringing, a modest home with a father who was a carpenter, and likely died, leaving both Mary and Jesus to have to work and source income to survive. Jesus has lived this life. So when he says, do not worry about what you will eat or drink, or wear, in one sense he’s saying, God will take care of your finances. Not only because he knows, but also because he has lived it himself. Especially when it is preceded by teachings of not storing up treasures on earth, AND the teaching before about charitable works, giving to those in need. He’s well aware that he’s asking people to go without and reminding people not to worry.
o Jesus also gives perspective here, reminding us that life is more than the food we eat or the clothes we wear.
o Present – today, we may not be so concerned about the food and drink we put into our bellies – even with increasing food costs – and clothes that we wear, which is becoming more and more expensive. But I think it’s also a reminder that life is more than the literal food and drink, that life needs a more substantial food to our soul’s hunger and thirst, AND that we need to be reminded to be clothed with something more than literal clothing for our bodies. Being fed by Christ himself (eat my body and drink my blood), and clothed in Christ.
– 26 Padre: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
o Past – He takes a look at the created world around us and reminds us to look at the way God has created nature, and creatures and what we can learn from that.
o When we look at Genesis, we see the creation order. We know that the sun, moon, and stars were created first – inanimate, and yet he holds them in existence, for the sun to rise every day. We see that he creates creatures, and only after all of that does he create the crown of creation, humans – made in his image and likeness, and calls on humans to care for and be stewards of the created world
- It presupposes that we have some level of ‘capacity’ AND ‘ability’ to be composed, tempered, wise, so that we can in fact do what we have been asked to do
- It also demonstrates that these creatures are in a lower order to us, yet seem to have figured something out that we humans forget. All of Nature seems to understand, it’s not in control. These other creatures know they only have moment by moment. When food is available, they eat. When water is available, they drink. God takes care of what they need, when they need it.
- Yet we, humans. We forget that simple fact, that God is in control and he takes care of things, always. So instead of living moment to moment, we fret about what’s to come, based on a concern from the past. We struggle to stay in the present.
- And what does this lead to? Well Jesus tells us in the next verse…
– 27 Stina: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
o We worry…. We’re so caught up by the next thing, that we worry. We worry about how we will get through the next moment, or the moment after the next, or the moment after that. We become self-reliant, and decide God cannot or will not come through, and convince ourselves that the most prudent outcome is for us to figure it all out ourselves, that it’s all on us.
o Our world is filled with anxiety both clinical and a general heightened sense of being stressed and on edge ALL THE TIME.
- Anxiety has it’s place. It’s a helpful physiological response when we’re in a dangerous position for our body and mind to send out warning signals to get out of this situation. To survive we go into a fight, flight, or freeze response. These are appropriate when we face threatening situations like being attacked, spider or snakes ahead of us, or even exam stress if we haven’t been prudential in our preparation. BUT the general heightened anxiety our world faces ALL THE TIME is out of order
o This is no surprise though. Even looking simply at our lifestyles now: we’ve become such sedentary and indoors people. We work, and play and live indoors ALL THE TIME. With occasional holidays being the exception which is very much a ‘I work to live on the weekend’ mentality. If all we see are screens, and walls we will forget that life is more than that. There’s a reason history tells us philosophers, artists and scientists have looked up at the sky, the moon, the stars for centuries. The vastness is a constant reminder of just how BIG God is, AND it calls us to see that because we were made in God’s likeness, there is a sense of ‘more to us’ as well. The sky almost calls to us to see that we share something in common. And when we look up at the sky, especially in light of the New Testament, it should remind us of Just how much God loves us as well.
- When we don’t look outwards, and upwards and only focus down or inwards, we lose our perspective and our bearings. So it’s no wonder we’re worried about nearly everything, we’ve lost our order, we don’t know what IS and ISN’T threatening and anything that seems out of the ordinary or expected becomes unpleasant and threat like, and unable to be coped with properly, and we begin having physiological responses of anxiety to it.
o Now that’s just one example, we also know mental health statistic wise, clinical anxiety is on the rise. You only need to look at the number of mental health services around and how generally they’re all at capacity, or the rate of self-harm and suicidality that keeps increasing. We have a very anxious world.
Show note 1
Then comes the stinger ‘you of little faith’
Ouch… but also… yeah….
What prevents us from truly believing that God could care that much about us?
Wounds – we’ve been hurt, and we’ve hurt ourselves.
Faith – and when it comes to the wounds that make it hard for us to let God enter in to depth our souls… well only faith will be able to enter in to heal that space. He will only enter and heal when we truly believe and invite him to.
So when we don’t, and we instead rely on our own strength and our own ability… we are clearly demonstrating that we do not have enough faith in God.
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
o Jesus then gives us something else to focus on in the present. This is the thing about brilliant teachers. They don’t just tell you what not to do, they tell you what to do.
o In a sense, Jesus tells us ‘don’t you worry about the past, or about the future, don’t put your focus there. Put your focus on the kingdom of God and his righteousness (that is ultimately, living a life of faith, hope and charity). Let this be your focus in every one of your present moments’.
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
God is Big, but that does not mean that he loses the ability to care for our needs
We put limits on our impression of God based on our experiences with each other, and our own life experiences. Our experience tells us that the more responsibility we have, the harder it becomes to stay on top of things.
Ie. It’s harder for a parent of 6 children to get through day to day, than it is for a single person without children. So we decide that God has to care for all of us, he will likely not have time, not be able to, overlook things, not be interested, or not care about our needs, and if he doesn’t come through for us, well we wouldn’t blame him. We’d blame ourselves because ‘hey! We should have known better than to trust someone with that much responsibility with our lives as well. It’s simply asking too much!’ isn’t it?. OR at the very least, we convince ourselves that God will miss details because after all, that happens to all of us.
None of this is true. God is not limited the way we are. God CAN do the impossible, and DOES do the impossible time and time again.
NOTHING. No Aspect of our lives is too small, too insignificant, too little of a detail for God to care about. He cares about your every thought, need, desire, and wants. Every single one of them. That morning coffee you crave, he cares about that. That grieving person you’re thinking about, he cares about that emotion of yours, when you stub your toe against the edge of the door, he cares about that pain, when you misplace a file on your computer and get frustrated, he cares about that frustration. When you’re upgrading your phone, he cares about the choice you make. ALL of it matters to him, ALL
When it comes to the HOW part of this, the path. Jesus has already told us in the sermon
· Prayer – our father and fasting
· Attitudes esp. regarding material possession, anger,
· Relationships including sexual relations, marriage, and regarding those who are our enemies
· Beatitudes – a way of life
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
o Then he gives us another realistic and grounded message – each day has enough trouble of its own. He reminds us that there are crosses in each day. God Cares about all the things that are in this life of ours, that doesn’t mean he’s going to take the cross of the day away from us. The cross is our way to heaven, he won’t take that away from us because he wants us with him, but he will help in every way, every moment of every day. All we have to do is have faith, and trust him.
o Worrying about what tomorrow may bring, literally is of no use in the present. A pregnant mother worrying about what labour will be like, is of no use to her and her baby in the present. An employee worrying about a meeting he has with his boss tomorrow, is of no use in the present.
o Padre: There’s a difference between worry and evaluating information
- Sometimes we make excuses for worry like ‘oh but I need to think things through, and weigh up the options. That’s what worry helps me do’
- That’s a lie – There’s a clear difference between rationally and logically thinking a situation through, coming up with possible outcomes, evaluating the options and making decisions or leaving decisions for further information
AND stewing on something, allowing our emotions to become erratic and untempered – it could even lead us to become irrational making decisions that actually aren’t the best options, we become stressed which has a psychological toll, and a physical toll.
- It’s also ok to be concerned about someone so long as that concern leads us back to prayer – to praying for that person and with faith and trust leave the care of that person to God, and remain focused on the kingdom of God in this moment.
- If the concern leads us to rumination, stewing, becoming distressed or dysregulated, then that’s just worry, and it’s not helping anyone.
How to combat worry
- Stina: Human
- Healthy friendships
- Constructive habits
- Achievable goals and tasks
- Psychological and counseling assistance
- Padre: Spiritual
- Pray for the person or thing causing worry
- Speak to God about the worry, as you would a friend
- When anxiety comes up, turn to prayer asking for help to surrender the worry.
TBG (Truth, Beauty, Goodness)
Padre – Ordination
Stina – Song – ‘Sparrows’ – Jason Gray