Sermon – August 7, 2016

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Luke 12:22-40 22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 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. 28 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! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What do you worry about? The list could be endless, I suppose, and different for each one of us. Some worries likely to make the list might be health, money, kids, parents, job. We may worry about having enough money to survive at retirement. We worry about someday having to move to a nursing home, or we worry about who is going to take care of us when we are too old to take care of ourselves. We don’t want to be a burden to our children. We also worry about our children falling away from faith in Christ, especially in the face of all the attacks on their faith in today’s world from friends, teachers, society, the media and the government. We may worry about our congregation and if it will have enough people and finances to remain open as people today are abandoning the churches and falling away from Christ.

Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our life (vv 22–23), but anxiety continues on and we cannot seem ever to find freedom from worry. We agree with Jesus that we shouldn’t worry. We know that it is useless and will never help us in our problems. Moreover, Jesus is not the only one who tells us this truth. People from every field of human care agree with him. Worry just causes physical and emotional stress and illness, and we know it is useless. “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v 25). Has worry ever healed you from a sickness? Does worry keep you kids safe? Will worry ever bring people back into the church or open the eyes of the spiritually blind society we live in?

But there is something even more wrong with worry. We also know, at some level, that worrying is a sin against the First Commandment (vv 29–30). When we worry, we are not trusting God above all things. Worry is a sin that deserves the eternal wrath and punishment of God. In fact, ironically, our anxiety lifts us up to be in the place of God, as if we could control what will happen in our future. That is the sin Eve committed in the Garden of Eden. When we worry we try to take matters into our own hands and fix them ourselves. Like Abraham when he decided to leave his inheritance to Eleazar or when he tried to get an heir by having a son with the servant of his wife. When we try to fix the problems ourselves, we are placing ourselves in the place of God. When we worry about the future of the church, we lack faith in the power of the word and Sacraments. We lose faith in God’s promise to always care for the church and that the church is eternal; that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. We try by our own efforts to bring people to faith and start to try to fix the problems of unbelief with projects, social programs, and by trying to entice people into the church by changing the message we preach, changing our worship and trying to market the church as if it were a business with a product to sell. When we worry about our kids and try to fix them, we are not trusting God who loves them and has made them his children in baptism, and we often just end up alienating them more.

But even though we agree that worry is sin and as Christians we try to avoid this sin, this does not stop us from worrying. We are just plain powerless to stop worrying. In fact, that’s the whole issue with sin: we are powerless to stop sinning. It is part of our fallen, sinful nature.

Jesus shows God’s care for us, from the lesser to the greater (vv 24–28). God, his Father and our Father, provides for birds and flowers. Consider how they neither sow nor reap, but God feeds them. Yet, you are of much more value than they. His point here is, If God takes care of the lowly creatures, he will surely care for the crown of his creation.

Likewise, the flowers neither spin or weave, but God clothes them in great splendor and glory. How much more he will clothe you for you are of much greater value than the flowers.

Yes, even the fallen creation provides a confession of God’s faithfulness. Birds don’t worry about their food. Flowers, by their beauty, praise the Creator. Jesus speaks through his creation to encourage us to let God be God and to let us be his trusting creatures. Even so, this ongoing display of God’s care does not stop us from worrying.

Jesus shows us that the real reason for our worrying is that we are seeking the wrong things. Our anxiety proves our misdirection. We seek peace of mind in all the wrong places. “For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them” (v 30). Food and clothing and all the things we worry about, health, old age, the future of ourselves, our family, our church, our nation, are all things of the world. Temporary things. Things that will pass away. Jesus tells us, “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (v 31). Seek his kingdom for it is eternal and lasting. It will not pass away. It’s all a matter of the heart. The sinful heart of man treasures the things of the world; things that will give pleasure but for only a time. Things that will one day come to an end; to rot and decay. Jesus calls us to repent of our false seeking and to trust him. Nevertheless, even acknowledging that we’re seeking the wrong things does not stop us from worrying. Therefore, God does not promise that he will heal us of our diseases in this world, but he promises that on the day of resurrection from the dead we will be healed completely. He does not promise us that we will live for many more years in this world, but he does promise that he will raise us from the dead and we will live forever. He does not promise to take away our poverty today, but he does promise us the riches of his kingdom in eternity.

Still, we worry about things of this life and no matter how hard we try we cannot stop worrying. But God breaking into our worrying world with his kingdom is what takes our worry away. The King of the world entered into the place of our worry. He entered into our life, our pains, our problems, and into the world of our worries. He was tempted to worry just as we are. He lacked food for forty days in the wilderness. He lacked a place to lay his head, to call his home. Jesus lived with all the reasons for worry, but he lived perfectly worry free for you.

The King of the world at last had nothing to eat, and at the cross he thirsted. He was stripped of every bit of clothing, so that, unlike the flowers, he had “no beauty that we should desire him” (Is 53:2). When Jesus had nothing, and even his life was taken from him, Jesus gave us everything.

The real and only reason not to worry: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The kingdom of Jesus is ours, not by our worrying, but by his cross and rising to live for us. The kingdom of heaven is ours, even when we worry, because of his grace. Because of the forgiveness he earned for you on the cross.

The kingdom will change our worry into freedom to share, to give, to store up real treasure that we don’t have to worry about (vv 32–34); the treasure that will not rot or deteriorate or spoil. In repentance, we name our anxiety as idolatry, and we receive the Lord’s forgiveness for our worry. Our worry about tomorrow and what it will bring. Our worry about jobs, about health, about the pains and discomforts of old age. Our worry about our children, our family, our church, and our country. All these sins of worry are washed clean from the book of life, so that on the last day we will not have to worry; no worry about the Day of Judgment; no worry about the verdict of God from his throne. Not worry about entering into his kingdom for eternity. All that has been done for us by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The King will come again, and by the grace of God, we will be waiting for him, worry free, to enter the fullness of his kingdom forever.

There . . . no worries. And that does change the way we see things in the meantime. This fallen world we know only too well, and we know ourselves. But . . .

While We Always Have Things That Worry Us

and We Cannot Stop Our Worrying,

Ours Is the Kingdom in Which the King

Takes Our Worry Away.

Amen.