I am amazed at the things in my own life that don’t align with what Jesus would want from those who follow him. None hit so close to home as the statements about worry from Matthew 6 (ok, a few actually do).
I’d love to think that it were as easy as simply being happy instead of not worrying (and Robin Williams makes me think that perhaps it is), but I know it is much more complex than that.
So what do we do if we can’t just “be happy?” . . .
In the Sermon on the Mount we are really dealing with two ways of believing and living: the way of the world and the way of God. Jesus gives example after example and exhortation after exhortation on how being his child changes the way you function in this world. It seems simple, but it is impossible. “Hey, don’t worry about things.” “But I can’t, I don’t know how to not worry.”
Worry is a deeply theological idea. It is rooted in our belief about the world, about God, about who is and is not in control of things. (I say that knowing that many folks may not even believe in God—to me, it is still a theological point.) Even Christians worry; and God has to continually remind us that when we worry we are choosing to believe something or someone is in greater control than God. And, even if we know that, we still often chose the act of worrying because we cannot remove our ability to control form the equation.
Jesus, master communicator and theologian he is, points us back to God. “Look at how God takes care of such insignificant things. Don’t you recognize that you are much more valuable than those insignificant things? How much more will your Heavenly Father take care of you?” That’s the rub in our understanding—do I believe and live life with the understanding that God has a greater care for my needs than I have?
The answer: God always has, and always will be, more concerned about you than you are. His glory is on the line.
A Few Notes on Anxiety and Mental Health:
- I mentioned that 18% of the US population struggles with some form of anxiety disorder. That information can be found here.
- I’d love for you, time permitting (31:51, to be exact), to check out Tommy Nelson’s message “A Christian Looks at Depression” that he gave while I was at seminary. See that here. You get to see someone who, after going through depression, change his tune on the issue. (Also, you may see a certain someone buried in the crowd at the 26:40 mark.)
- So that you know, in case you missed it, I absolutely believe that medication is a valuable tool in dealing with mental health. All healing has to end with the person and work of Jesus, and any work that doesn’t help move you in that direction isn’t the kind of help you need. But, at times, the way the evangelical church handles depression and anxiety is abysmal. Maybe one day I’ll write more on this but I feel incredibly ill-equipped to speak on the subject well.