Friday, February 29, 2008

What? Me worry?

In Mark Daniels' most recent Lenten sermon, he took a fresh (geddit?) look at the "Give us this day our daily bread" petition in the Lord's Prayer. This is what he said:

Ed Markquart, a wonderful Lutheran pastor in Seattle, has calculated that in the four gospel books of the New Testament--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--”there are 60 teachings, 40 parables, and 25 miracles of Jesus.” And the Sermon on the Mount contains a whopping twenty-five of Jesus’ sixty teachings. They come at us at such a furious pace in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew’s book, that you think Jesus would hardly have the time to repeat Himself in order to highlight what’s important.

But He does repeat Himself in the ten verses that make up our Bible lesson. In fact, Jesus punches home the same teaching three times in these verses. And then, to underscore His teaching, He asks seven rhetorical questions, all with the same message: DO NOT WORRY!...

We worry, let’s face it, because we’re control freaks. Adam and Eve were lured into sin because the serpent told them that when they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “be like God.” It bothers us that while, unlike all of God’s other creatures, we can project and to some extent, predict, what the future will bring, we can’t control what happens to us....

No matter how facile you may be at multitasking, there are two things that are very difficult to do simultaneously. Though you may be able to do them both at the same time for awhile--maybe decades--eventually, one will win out over the other and become the prevailing habit of your life. You can’t keep worrying and be thankful to God at the same time.

Worrying represents unbelief and the other faith in God. Each moment of our lives is a contest between worry and thankfulness, unbelief and faith.

In the end, worrying is a form of self-worship. Even though we may express our worry by saying things like, “What am I going to do?,” seemingly confessing helplessness, the underlying assumption is that my immediate problems and, by extension, the long-term good of the known universe, depends on me.

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