Sermon: “No Need To Worry”
Lectionary Series C; The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 11, 2019 – Proper 14
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:22-34
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Are any of you ever anxious? Ever afraid? Do any of you ever...worry? If so, now that Disney has recently released a new version of the Lion King, I have some comforting words from my friends Timon and Pumba: “Hakuna Matata!” What does that mean, you might ask? Well, let me tell you. Or better yet, let me sing it for you:
Hakuna matata! What a wonderful phrase.
Hakuna matata! Ain’t no passing craze.
It means no worries; For the rest of your days.
It’s our problem free; philosophy; Hakuna matata!
If only it were as simple as singing a silly song and adopting a Hakuna Matata philosophy, and poof, all anxieties and worries were gone. But it just isn’t that simple, is it?
We worry about all sorts of things? What do you worry about? Last weekend our nation was gripped with worry as two mass shootings took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Lives were lost, people were wounded. Thinking about all of those victims might have given us a moment of pause or filled us with worry about going out in public ourselves.
What do you worry about? Do you worry about storms? Do you worry about finances? Do you worry about your kids? Do you worry about the future? Do you worry about all of those unknowns that arise in life? What do you worry about?
In one way or another, it would seem that none of us are immune to worrying. Which means that none of us are immune to the sin of failing to trust in the almighty God. That is, after all, what worry and anxiety are all about. A lack of trust. But it goes deeper than that.
In a word study done on the Greek word for worry, it reveals that the best translation would not be “worry,” but rather “lifting yourself up.” Worrying lifts us up above God, in place of God, rather than taking our place under God’s generous hand; we are exalting ourselves to be our own gods when we think our provision is all up to us.
So, worry is a sin against the first commandment where we are called to not have any other gods, where we are to fear, love, and ‘trust’ in God above all things.
Unfortunately, we put a lot of things above God. Consider last week’s Gospel reading where Jesus told the parable of the rich fool. The man’s land produced plentifully, and he wondered what he should do because he had so much grain. His conclusion was to tear down his barns, build bigger ones to store his grain and goods, and relax, eat, drink, and be merry. God’s response was to call such a man a “Fool” and take his life from him.
And so it will be for those who place their trust in themselves or the things of this world. This should be a wakeup call to us Americans who have more things than we will ever need in this life. If we place our trust in ourselves or prioritize the things of this world to provide us all that we need, we put our eternal salvation in jeopardy…which is why God calls upon us to trust in Him above all things. Stop worrying about the worldly stuff, and trust in God. Easier said than done. (Pause)
But have you ever had one of those moments in life where you worry about something, and no matter how hard you seem to try, you just can’t get it off your mind. It just keeps swirling around and around. You might look back now and think what a small, petty thing it was to worry about. But back then, it was like this massive mountain you couldn’t see past, go around, or climb over. Ever had those moments? I know I have. And I hate them.
It’s no wonder that Jesus says, And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Luke 12:24). How true is that?! Worrying never adds anything to our lives. It only takes away. It takes away time. It takes away sleep. It takes away appetite. It takes away energy. Worrying is so ridiculous, when you think about it. It’s an absolute waste of time and energy. … So, why do we do it? Why?
We worry because we are weak in faith. Like the disciples who were listening to Jesus, we too can have such little faith. Trust does not come easy for us. And Jesus knows that all too well. So, He gives us a couple of object lessons to help us in our weak faith.
First, he tells us to Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them (Luke 12:24). Looking out at my garden, we have these birds that are constantly in there. I can attest, not-a-one of them seems to be struggling for food. The point is, they are cared for and provided for. So it is that we are cared for and provided for, for we are of much more value than birds.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Jesus gives a second object lesson. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! (Luke 12:27-28). (Pause)
Even though we are surrounded with infinite evidence of the Father’s care and provision, we still think it is not enough. We never think we have enough. The grass is always greener elsewhere. The Jones’ always have more. It is a relentless onslaught of discontentment that fills our hearts and our minds with worry.
And what Jesus makes clear is that the reason we worry is that are hearts and minds are set on the wrong things…worldly things…which is why our text for today redirects us to what truly matters…the kingdom of God.
And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31).
The Father knows what we need, even better than we do. It’s like when I was growing up. I would constantly ask my parents, “What’s for supper?” Their response was, “Food.” I would follow up, “What food?” And their response would be: “Have we ever let you go without a meal? Now get out of the kitchen.” It used to drive me nuts to not know what we were having for supper. But now I find myself using a similar response with my kids when they ask the same question I used to ask.
Perhaps a better example is that of the prophet Elijah. It was a time of famine. There was no food, and yet God directed him to travel anyway. While on those travels, God nourished him with water from a brook and He commanded the ravens to bring him bread and meat. Elijah then journeyed on in the strength of the Lord.
The point is that whether it be Elijah, or like when I was a kid, or those birds, or the lilies, we have no need to worry about being provided for because our Father up in heaven knows exactly what we need, and He will be faithful to provide it. Now it may not be what we want or what we like. It may mean we may have to endure hardship, or suffering, but we have no need to worry.
Our Good Shepherd is always looking out for what is best for us according to His will and in His time. Our text says, Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
May we find comfort in the fact that there is nothing the Father wants more than to have you and me with Him for all eternity. In fact, we are of such great value to Him that He sent His one and only Son to die for us to secure our salvation. That was the price He willingly paid for us…we who are of so much more value than the birds.
And if He is willing to lay down His life for us so that we can have eternal life with Him, then what reason do we have to worry about the things of this temporal life? None. None at all. Death has been defeated. Just imagine how much worrying there would be to do if we didn’t have salvation to look forward to. Imagine if we had to earn our way into heaven with our works. Now that would be something worry about.
But as Christians, we confess our worries and anxieties. We confess the ways we have lifted ourselves up above God. And we place our trust in the One who went all the way to Jerusalem trusting that His Father would raise Him from death.
For it was Jesus who came to this earth to give us the kingdom. It was Jesus who gave up the food of this earth to fast in the wilderness for forty days and defeat the devil’s temptations. It was Jesus who was stripped of His clothing, and left for dead on the cross of Calvary. It was Jesus who cried out in thirst before He breathed His last breath on our behalf. It was Jesus who gave up all the things of this world to ensure the kingdom would be ours.
And it most certainly is. So there is no need to worry. Jesus is right here, right now, feeding your faith, strengthening your faith, sustaining your faith, for the journey ahead with His Word and Sacrament. And should those worldly worries creep back in, Jesus is right here to give you the daily bread you need to continue on in the faith according to His will and in His way and in His time. Hakuna Matata! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.