Worry: Letting Your Mind Be Divided By Many Things

Text: Matthew 6:24-34 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

There are many reasons to be worried these days. Yes, many reasons.  There are forest fires in the West, rioting in the big cities, flooding in the South, and the Coronavirus is lurking everywhere to ambush you.  And let us not forget the grind of everyday-life-worries. There are bills that must be paid, house projects that need to be finished, health issues to resolve.  And obviously, there is an election coming up; how can we forget that? 

It certainly does not help to turn on the television either or look on social media. When you turn on the TV or look at social media, what you find is just more things to worry about – more things to unsettle your mind. And that is really the problem, is it not? There are so many things in this world that stretch our minds apart in worry. Most of us just run around like a frantic madman or a crazy chicken, trying to address all of these problems in life. We are like a person who is trying to stop all the leaks in a dam.  We put our finger in one crack to stop the water. But then we notice seven more cracks spraying water. So we remove our finger and try to clog these other cracks. However, as soon as we do this, the one crack we had plugged starts spraying water again.

To make this problem worse, so-called experts and pastors come along and see all of these worries in people’s lives, and they then say to themselves:

“Perhaps I will write a book or preach a sermon series about all the things that people are worried about, to help them not worry. If people are worried about riots, Coronavirus, fires, politics, climate change, and money - these subjects are certainly relevant and interesting. Perhaps, I can do a six-part sermon series or write a book about riots, Coronavirus, fires, politics, climate change, and money to help people with their worry about these things.”

And so books are written, and sermons are preached about things such as riots, Coronavirus, fires, politics, climate change, and money. And people? They buy these books and listen to these sermon series with great zeal.  People get really excited about the prospect of being able to get their hands around and manage all the things they worry about.  However, when all is said and done, they have not added a single hour to their lifespan or fixed much of anything. Nothing is accomplished, except they are more worried about riots, Coronavirus, fires, politics, climate change, and money than they were before.  You see, the more that we study the things that we worry about, the more educated we will be in worrying about these things. 

 Think back to that illustration of the leaking.  Imagine an expert coming along saying, “Let me teach you how to put your finger in that crack to stop all the water from coming out!”  And then imagine that you do just that – you put your finger in that crack to stop all the water!  You’ve got it!  But then imagine the expert pulling your other arm out of its socket and having you put another finger in another leaking crack.  (Remember, the expert has helped you examine all the cracks and how they need to be plugged - he is made you aware of all the cracks and what needs to be done to stop the leaks.)

And so, you plug the second crack, but that still is not good enough. You must reach with your toes and plug more cracks. You’ve got this!  Well, Truth be told, you don’t!  It is quite obvious that you cannot be stretched out this far with your body to plug all these cracks. It is not humanly possible.  Your body would have to rip apart to plug all of these leaking cracks. And yet, that is what you and I do to our minds when we spend all of our time trying to master and conquer the things in our life that cause us to worry.

In the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells you and me not to be anxious - to not worry. Indeed, do not let your mind be divided by many things.  But you may say,

“There is so much going on in life – there are so many things that one must consider in life. Are we not to be aware and be proactive? 

Yes, it is good to be diligent and a good manager of the resources you have been given in the vocations you have been called into. But that is not the same as worrying.

The Lord does not want you to spend your life with a divided mind scurrying around frantically jumping from one fear to the next, never resting in his care.  You see, with today being Confirmation Sunday, it is not only a great gift to the Confirmands, but it is a great gift to the entire congregation. The reason being, Confirmation is a time where the Confirmands are educated in the main thing.  That is to say; Confirmation is not a time where youth are educated in a way that divides the mind into a bunch of different philosophies, ideas, and movements. But rather, it is a time of education where everything is cast aside so that the Confirmands can be established in the six chief parts of the Christian faith.  And for the rest of the congregation, it is a reminder of what is essential for us to believe, teach, and confess. As Christians, we never out-grow the six chief parts.  

Mark this, the Christian faith is quite simple. It is simple because it does not change because Truth does not change. Truth is Jesus.  The world is constantly changing, though, or perhaps circulating through endless myths and chatter.  The world acts like a hyperactive dog in the middle of a forest of squirrels -squirrel that way!  A squirrel over there!  I hear a squirrel! 

Know this, you do not need to have a divided mind like so much of the world.  The Christian faith, as expressed in our Small Catechism is true, unchanging, relevant, and secure.  The Christian faith teaches you that you do not need to fuss and worry about every little thing in this world as if there is no God – as if you are on your own. 

Blessed Saints, you have been baptized. You have been absolved of your sins. You have been claimed by the One who cares for you.  Do not worry! 

Think of the birds in the air and the wildflowers of the fields. Do they fuss and fret and worry and run around in a complete frenzy? No, they do not. The birds are busy with building and gathering food, but they do not have a divided mind. And the wildflowers in the fields?  They are not running around with a crazed shopping look trying to pimp themselves out with the newest clothing and the best sales at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s. Wildflowers blossom in peace, making the best dressed frenzied woman in the country look shabby. 

The point being; if God gives attention to the appearance of wildflowers and cares for birds, are you not more important than they?  Yes, you are!  And so, the Lord will attend to you, take pride in you, and will do His best for you because you belong to Him and He to you.  You are His baptized children. 

Now, if you did not have the Lord, it would make sense for you to fuss over all the things in life and be burdened with a constant divided mind of worry.  But you do have the Lord; He cares for you.  Do not worry. 

And so, when you hear about riots, Coronavirus, fires, politics, climate change, money, and the hundreds of other things that keep Americans up at night in worry, you can have a relaxed mind free of worry because no matter how good or bad things get, the Lord Jesus Christ is your help. 

Having Christ does not mean that you put your head in the sand to the issues of life, but instead, it means that you do not need to get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. You know that the Lord cares for you in this life and in death.  He holds each day – for you.

So, today, remember the simple Truths of the Christian faith as expressed in the Small Catechism. Return always to the assurance of your baptisms. Confess boldly that you belong to Christ and no other.  And have a mind that is at peace – without worry – because the God of the universe snatched you from death unto life and will keep you for all of eternity.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean