Where do you draw the line on worry?
I hope you have a line. If you don’t, now’s a good time to create one! Start by asking: When does a healthy concern for the future become a self-destructive obsession about tomorrow?
We all hate worry. It is a form of fear, really. But we tend to justify it by saying that a little bit of worry is okay because it keeps us on our toes. It motivates us to plan for contingencies. A bit of worry makes us accountable for the security of ourselves and those we love.
But where is the line?
The truth is, when it comes to Jesus, he was completely uninterested in such distinctions. He saw any worry as a kind of Freudian slip.
One of the reasons his mantra throughout the New Testament is “Do not be afraid” is because he saw worry as a revelation of something much deeper and more dangerous within us. Even the most simple of worries exposes something which we all want to avoid. Worry exposes something of which we may not even be aware. Worry exposes something which we may be too embarrassed to admit: our lack of faith in God.
I think Jesus focused on worry and fear so much because they reveal what is really going on within us. They expose the fact that we are breaking the first commandment. We are not trusting God.
In some ways, Jesus comes across as almost baffled by this; baffled by our worrying. He says that we should look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. They don’t worry about the stock market. They don’t count calories. They don’t fret over the evening news. Why do we? Then, maybe under his breath, he adds: “O you of little faith?”
That seems like a pretty harsh indictment, but Jesus offers us a solution. And what is his solution? What does Jesus offer us?
He offers himself. He says “Come, follow me and see what that does for your fears and worries. Walk in my footsteps of devotion to God and service to others and watch your worries drift away. It’ll happen. It’ll happen because God will not leave you orphaned. When God is at the center of your life, you have nothing to fear. Seek first the kingdom of God and then see what happens to your fears and worries”.
If I had to sum up Jesus’ ministry in two words it would be these: Trust God.
God can be trusted. The more you trust, the more centered you become. The more you trust, the more purposeful you become. The more you trust, the more you find the antidote to worry.