Yr B ~ Thanksgiving ~ Matthew 6:25-33
I was having trouble getting going with this week’s message. Then one word changed and everything started to flow. And I was thankful!
A different word was giving grief to our bible study group – the word worry.
Let’s be clear right from the start: I do not think that Jesus is telling us not to have concern for things or people. We can’t care for people or be loving if we don’t feel concern for them. No, the worry Jesus is warning us about in Matthew 6 is more than just being anxious about something, he’s teaching about the dangers of being overly preoccupied with things, being absorbed by them, being obsessed with them. Care and concern are healthy, preoccupation and obsession are not.
When Jesus says “Don’t worry” he’s really talking about a general state of anxiety and disquiet that insidiously sneaks into our being and starts to run our life. That’s the real soul-sucking stuff. That’s the worry that kills. I guess it’s always been a problem or he wouldn’t have taught it, but it sure seems like we’ve got a nasty case of it today. We need this teaching more than ever!
I think you’d agree that we live in a hyper-anxious and worried culture. Why do you think that is? What fuels this feeling?
The media is a big one – you can’t turn on a TV or pick up a newspaper without being inundated with doom and gloom from every corner of the world. Commercials and advertisements are constantly telling us that we’re not good enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough, or wealthy enough, or don’t smell good enough, and judging by the stuff we buy we believe them.
Then on top of that you add in the pace of life that we’ve chosen to live at. We’re always on, always plugged in, there’s no down time, our technology owns us. Just threaten to take away someone’s cell phone for a week, or a day, and watch them squirm. We are all wound way too tight.
The problem isn’t really that life has sped up and become more complicated; the problem is that we’ve lost our grounding in what’s most important.
Instead of drawing on our deep spiritual reservoir built up over years of loving God, loving people, and loving one another, we find ourselves worrying and fussing about too many things.
We can even become paralyzed by it all.
Maybe we’re in such an anxious culture because we patently refuse to follow Matthew 6:33. You know this verse by heart – we all do, but we steadfastly ignore it. Here’s the big message today:
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all the rest will follow.
God first! Seek God first. Make the primary goal of your life seeking God and you’ll find the rest of it works out much better.
The trick seems to be to figure out what seeking means. But even that word “seeking” is anxiety producing! Seeking is an action verb. The NRSV suggests striving instead. That’s just as bad! Seeking, striving – “oh no, what if I’m not doing enough? What if my efforts to seek God fall short? What if my striving isn’t strong or thorough enough?” And boom, we’re right back to being paralyzed by worry again!
Remember I said I discovered one word and it all changed for me?
The word came from the Message bible translation. I want you to hear the whole passage from the Message – it’s really, really helpful. read on