Sunday, February 13, 2005

Disciples Know (13)

Disciples Know God is Enough
Matthew 6:25-34
"Born to worry."
That's what the bumper sticker said. At first I laughed - then I noticed it was pasted on the back glass of a nearly new Lincoln Navigator.

That made it a little hard to "hear" the message of the bumper sticker. But it was the bumper sticker on the opposite end of the glass that made it all come clear.
"Born to shop."
You see, there are basically two ways to look at life. The first goes something like this:
"The more stuff you have, the more security you have. Therefore, get all the money and stuff you can and you'll have fewer things to worry about."
But Jesus offers an alternative perspective of life. It goes something like this:
"The more stuff you have, the more you tend to feel like you're not dependent on your Maker. But make no mistake about it - He's all you really need in life. Therefore, make living for him your life's pursuit and rest assured, he'll take good care of you - come what may."
You may not have heard it quite like that, but you may be familiar with a longer, even more accurate rendering of Jesus's perspective:
"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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34 TNIV)*
Truth be told, we weren't made to worry. We were made to rely - to rely on God our Father. In the same way, we weren't born to shop. We were born to serve - serve the God who takes care of us in every way, every minute of every day.

The problem with things is this - the more stuff you own, the more things wind up owning you. Worry thrives in soil like that. Instead, rely on your true Maker and Sustainer - God.

Does that mean it's a sin to be well off? No, no more than barely scraping by makes you righteous! It is simply to say that if you're "born to shop" you're bound to be "born to worry," but if you're "born of God" and "bound to serve" Him, you're not going to have an illegitimate child named "Worry."

One more thing. We need to remember who Jesus was speaking to when he shared this perspective on life. By and large he was speaking to the people who made up over 90% of the Palestine's population at that time – dirt poor folks eking out a subsistence living.

And that simply makes Jesus's perspective all the more remarkable and needful!

For when speaking to people who had good reason to be concerned about where their next meal was coming from, Jesus said, in effect:
"Don't worry about your life. Birds are naked and flowers don't have pantrys, but you've never seen a shortage of birds or flowers. God takes care of his own. Don't forget that you're one of his own. He's your Father, you're his child . . . and that's enough."
So stick this on your back glass instead:
". . . where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)
* This discussion of the uselessness of worry (6:25-34) is often read, unfortunately, apart from its context - the need not to be owned by "things" (6:19-24). In context, Jesus is warning us that the spirit we call being "born to shop" (6:19-24) fuels the spirit of being "born to worry" (6:25-34).