Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Have no fear, little flock; have no fear, little flock, for the Father has chosen to give you the Kingdom; have no fear, little flock!”
This morning’s reading from Luke’s Gospel follows directly on the heels of last week’s lesson. Last week, we heard Jesus tell a man that, “life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Life is not about stuff. Things break. Money comes and goes. Stuff gets stolen. None of it matters nearly as much as Jesus matters. For us as believers, life does not consist of stuff; it consists of Jesus. He alone matters, not our possessions.
Then in today’s reading, Jesus turns to His disciples. Jesus has moved from teaching one guy in the crowd to teaching specifically the disciples. These words are meant for you and me. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing… Do not be worried.” The message this morning is very simple. Don’t worry—don’t be anxious—about anything.
It’s one of those things that’s very easy to say, but very difficult to live. In fact, telling someone “don’t be anxious” isn’t very helpful at all. First of all, anxiety isn’t something you can flip on and off like a light in your house, as if some people deliberately choose to be anxious all the time. And second, if you tell an anxious person not to be anxious, chances are, they’ll keep on worrying about what they’ve been worrying about plus, they’ll worry about worrying so much.
But Jesus doesn’t just say the words, “don’t be anxious,” and then walk away. He doesn’t expect you to work your own way out of anxiety and into faith. No, Jesus encourages you to look outside yourself and trust in God, by using two examples of God interacting with His created world. Each of these examples is meant to help you see that God is worth trusting. If this is your God, then let Him handle what He’s promised to handle; don’t try to take over and worry about what God is already handling.
First, consider the birds. They fly around all day, doing their thing. They don’t have jobs like we do. They don’t clock in and out on a timecard. They don’t plow fields, plant seeds, irrigate their land, or harvest a crop. They don’t have bank accounts or build barns or silos. But guess what? God takes care of them. He makes sure they get all the food they need to survive. Even though they don’t worry about anything, God makes sure they have all they need. If that’s how God treats birds, how do you think He’ll treat you? You’re worth a whole lot more than a bird. God will, and does, provide.
Then, consider the lilies. Maybe you get around the bird example by saying that they’re at least animate beings. They have brains and can play an active role in their survival. But here, Jesus cuts you off at the pass. Flowers don’t have brains. They don’t work. They don’t raise livestock, cut off their fur, tease it, twist it into thread, put it on a loom, and make clothes out of it. In fact, that’s a pretty ridiculous image. Plants don’t do stuff like that. But if you look at any flower, you’ll see just how beautiful God has made it. The intricate patterns, the unique styles, the vibrant colors all outdo anything we’ve come up with ourselves. If that’s how God treats plants, which are just as quickly uprooted and tossed away, how do you think He’ll treat you? You’re worth a whole lot more than some grass. God will, and does, provide.
“Wait then in quiet confidence, your anxious thoughts at rest. God knows your needs before you ask and works for what is best.”
For Jesus, the solution to our anxiety is not trying harder, talking to someone, or taking medication, though those might all be good and necessary at some point. Instead, Jesus points us to our Father. He knows what you need. He values you higher than anything else in all of creation. He knows you, loves you, and cares for you. He is the one who is at work in the world to right the wrongs and provide for all our needs. When you realize that while still holding onto your anxiety, you’re telling God, “I don’t trust you. I don’t believe you have my best interest at heart. I don’t think you can or will do what you say you’re going to do.”
Think about your God. He created all that exists simply by speaking. And He still takes care of His creation. He didn’t just wind everything up and let it go on its own; all of creation functions the way it’s supposed to because God makes it so. When we corrupted this creation of His, He didn’t pack up His bags and leave; He packed up His bags to come. God personally came to us in this world like an author writing himself into a story. He experienced the pain and suffering of this world and was even killed on our behalf. Yet even the worst consequence of our sin couldn’t defeat our God. He rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven. From there, He sent the Holy Spirit, who is still at work today. The Spirit comes to us through the Word and through God’s Sacraments, reminding us of all God’s promises of His kingdom, forgiveness, salvation, and life.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
“In thine arms I rest me; foes who would molest me cannot reach me here. Though the earth be shaking, ev’ry heart be quaking, Jesus calms my fear. Lightnings flash and thunders crash; yet, though sin and hell assail me, Jesus will not fail me.” Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Lobe den Herrn
B. A. Woell