Date — August 7, 2016 — Proper 14
Sermon Text — Luke 12:22-40
Sermon Audio —
Come back later for the audio of this sermon.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s (evening’s) sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 12th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Do not Worry
Whenever I hear someone say, “don’t worry” I start to worry. Maybe I wasn’t worried to begin with but now that someone said it out loud I worry that maybe I should be worried about something, maybe there’s something I don’t know, something I should know. Maybe there’s something I did or didn’t do or something I should or shouldn’t do. In our text this morning (evening) Jesus says, “do not worry.” Some translations have the word “anxious” instead of worry but you get the point. Jesus is identifying something that’s going on in our heart and mind that we might not be paying attention to. He’s is placing His Word on a sore spot. By saying it out loud He not only brings it to our attention but then sets out to remedy it.
You see, beloved, we Christians are a peculiar people. Being baptized into Christ we have been crucified to the world and the world has been crucified to us. Our eyes, once focused on our belly buttons, and therefore also our bellies and our bodies, have been lifted up towards the heavens where Christ is seated in glory. Our mind has been set on heavenly things because we have been joined to Christ and His church. But we are not in heaven yet. We are here, below, in a broken world surrounded by broken people, who are continually breaking things – things that are good but are being used in ways contrary to God’s design. That brokenness of course is called sin. We see it. We feel it. We do it, oft times playing with it like it was some sort of harmless creature that we have total control over. We try to fix it, both in our neighbors and in ourselves. When we can’t conquer it out there we look to conquer it in here, in our heart, in our lives, in our families. We are uncomfortable with sin but rather than deal with the sin according to Christ’s Word, we prefer to deal with whatever makes us comfortable. Pursuing happiness we follow whatever’s fun, successful, exciting, thrilling, or distracting.
Jesus says don’t be anxious about food or clothing. But we’re not so much anxious about food and clothing. We have those things. We do however want to have good food, healthy food, well prepared food, food that delights the senses, and we becomes gluttons without even knowing it. We have clothes, but we worry about fashion. And not just fashionable clothes but anything that adorns the body or our life, like jewelry, tattoos, body piercings, cars, homes, social status, number of friends, size of our income, bank statements, retirement accounts, etc. All of these make up our life. To have fun and to have things is to have life – so we’re lead to believe – by the world around us. That’s why so many are worried about the election in November. We’re really worried about those things. And being worried about those things it’s easy for us to neglect the right things, the godly things, that things that deal with our eternal life.
Consider the Works of God
Now, note how Jesus gently lifts our eyes from these things and directs them to the Father’s heart. That’s how He deals with worrisome and anxious hearts. Jesus knows how difficult and frightening it is for someone who’s worried and anxious to shift their attention away from food and clothing and the things of this world. He knows how your heart and mind struggles, how you are constantly being pulled by these things, these feelings, these passions and desire. So rather than startle you with thunderous words from the heavens, He teaches you to consider. Do not be worrisome or anxious but consider, think on, ponder the works of God in creation. “Consider”, He says, “the ravens. “Consider”, He says, “the lilies of the field.” Meditate on how the Lord feeds and adorns even the least of His creation.
Considering requires thinking. Thinking makes use of reason leading to understanding. Worry and anxiety is actually the result of unreasonable thinking usually being led by feeling. I feel anxious so I think God has left me to my own devices. I feel worried so I think that God wants me to fix whatever’s wrong – whatever’s making me feel uncomfortable. Whenever I feel this way, whenever I fall into the trap set by the devil, the world, and my sinful flesh, I almost always don’t understand why I never feel right, or good, or at peace – which often escalates my worry. By turning my heart towards the works of God, Jesus has turned my heart away from my works – not that we should stop working for the Lord has called each of us to work within our vocation – but that we should stop worrying about the wages of our work as the source of our life.
How much more will He Work for You
This is why the biblical teaching of creation is so important for our understanding, not only of our origins, but of God’s heart toward us. You are not the result of some random occurrence of events that took billions or even millions of years to get to you. You are the result of God’s own forming and fashioning you in the womb of your mother, begotten of your father. You have been wondrously knit together in that mysterious place by God Himself. He has invested Himself in your formation. You have been created in the image of God. That is something which cannot be said of the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. You are literally the work of God.
Though that image has been lost in the fall, God has not left you or abandoned you to restore that image for yourself. He’s not left you fend for yourself in a world where only the strong survive, where the “survival of the fittest” is the mantra of the gentiles. Consider the birds and the lilies! If the Lord has done such great and marvelous things for the least of His creation, how much more will He, has He done for you? You have been created in love by the God who is love. Love doesn’t turn away, but Love seeks to bring health and healing. Therefore the God who created you and loves you has worked the greatness of His salvation and sought your restoration through His Son. Once your eyes have been taken from your belly and your body, with the psalmist you can lift up your eyes unto the hills from whence comes your salvation. Now, as you consider the works of God for the least of these, you can rightly ponder the works of God for you in the giving of His Son. For God so loved you that He gave His only-begotten Son. He is the image and icon of the Father, the exact imprint of His nature. The whole universe is upheld by the word of His power. That Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived and worked and suffered and died, not in weakness – but in the power of His humility He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be put to death for the sins of the world, even the death of the cross. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus God has restored Humanity to the image of God. Through your baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection God has restored you to the image of God. The shame of your nakedness has been covered, not with fashionable clothing which is in style today and later found on the shelves of this world’s storehouses, but with the righteousness of Christ. For all who have been baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. What is His is given to you as a gift to cover your shame, forgive your sins, and adorn you for eternity – so long as you remain in the faith, so long as you do not undress yourselves with unbelief seeking the food and clothing of the world.
Seek the Kingdom of God
Considering these things of God leads to an understanding of God’s own heart for sinners, for people like you and me. Faith considers such things which leads to understanding. Understanding leads to wisdom and wisdom discerns what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what ought to be sought after and what ought to be abandoned. In other words, as believers you are not be like the unbelievers, or as Jesus says, like the gentiles. You are His dear Christians and as such you are to be seeking the Kingdom of God. Where is the Kingdom of God? It is wherever the King rules. Our King rules with a gracious Word, delivering His life to your life through that Word proclaimed from the pulpit and distributed in the sacraments. To seek the Kingdom is to seek the King. To seek the King is to listen for His Word and be receiving His Word by grace through faith. Where is His Word? It is here in His Church. For in this place our King has promised to be present, in our midst, near us, to deliver us from the sins and worries that so easily entrap us.
Here is the water of life, poured out for you and your children from this font.
Here are His ordained stewards, faithfully washing sinners who have soiled themselves with sin and by living in an unclean world.
Here Christ’s saints are washed once with water and the word, and then renewed in that Holy washing through the words of absolution.
Here, from this altar, the bread of life is given into your mouths to nourish the soul and pledge within the body the resurrection from the dead.
Here, eyes are lifted from belly and body to the heavenly treasures that await us on the day of His appearing.
Here, anxious hearts are stilled with gracious Words from our Creator.
Here, weak knees are made strong to bear the burdens of our vocations.
Here, the broken are bound up with heavenly salve.
Here, the sin sick soul receives the medicine of immortality.
Here, timid souls receive power from on high, not to conquer to the world, for that has already been accomplished on Calvary, but to love, forgive, and show mercy to one another and to the unbelieving world around us. It all happens here. It is all given here. It is all for you, right here, in this place, within this Divine Service. For this is the heart of God for you. This is God’s working for you and in you. This is God’s restoration of the world, one person at a time. Be seeking these things first, not just here and there, not just every now and then, not just once when you were young but now you’ve moved on to more pressing things, but be seeking these things first for your life. For in these gifts of our God He shares His heart, His life, His eternity with you.
Be Ready and Watching
Beloved in the Lord, Jesus says, “do not worry” “do not be anxious” because Jesus knows our heart better than we know it. He is more honest with us than we are with ourselves. He knows our struggles. He knows our temptations. He knows our feelings. He knows our needs. And He wants us ready, ready to receive His gifts, ready for service in His kingdom, and ready for the day of His appearing. Therefore, do not fear little flock because your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. It is His most fervent desire that you repent and believe the gospel, that your heart be cleansed, your soul be at ease, your life flow from His. Remember Lot’s wife? On the day of Sodom’s judgement she clung to the world’s worries looking back on what was lost, longing for the life she once had, failing to see the salvation God was giving her in a new land. She is the picture of this dying world fondly clinging to food and clothing and lifestyle and sin. You are not Lot’s wife. You are not gentiles seeking after a life that will end. You are Christian! You are baptized! You are the Lord’s dearly loved children. And therefore you are free from the worries and anxieties of this world. And thus you are also strangers in this world, a peculiar people, a people looking forward to a new land, an eternal home, a kingdom without end. Therfore, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phi 4:8 ESV) . . . and the God of all peace will be with you. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!