A young woman brought her fiancee to meet her parents.
After dinner, her father asked the young man into his study for a chat.
"So, what are your plans?" he began.
"I’m a theology scholar," the young man replied.
"Admirable!" the father said, "But what will you do to provide a nice home for my daughter?"
"I will study and God will provide," he explained.
"And how will you afford to raise children?"
"God will provide."
The men left the study and the mother asked her husband, "How did it go?"
"He has no money or employment plans," the father said.
"But on the other hand, he thinks I’m God."
While, the attitude of this young man may be funny, it is a misinterpretation of what it means to depend on God. I hope that our time today will show each of us how it is that we might come to a balanced perspective of dependence on God while realizing that our dependence on him requires some attitude changes and behavior changes on our part.
Since the events of September 11, I have been thinking
about the spirit of independence that pervades our society. Of course, this is what has built our nation and what has made it great in many ways. However, it is only through a healthy perspective on Independence that we can ever truly approach a sense of security for these trying days and a hope for the future that we will be surrounded by peace.
In fact, it might be understood that the whole-sale adoption of a spirit of Independence is one of our greatest weaknesses as well as one of our greatest strengths. In clinging too tightly to the spirit of independence, we are often not living out our faith in ways that are consistent with God’s will for us as Christians.
While our passage for today addresses material blessing, I do not want to dwell on the common theme of God’s provision for us as many have interpreted this scripture to assure us that God will meet our needs if we are faithful... This is definitely true. However, I want for us to focus today on the fact that God will meet our needs if we trust him... DEPEND on him.
Of course, if we are going to depend on God, we must have faith in him. When we try to do so many things on our own, we are demonstrating that our faith is mis-placed and as a result we end up trusting ourselves or other people ahead of trusting in God to meet our needs. The rugged individualism that our country has been largely built upon demonstrates to each of us that the reliance on individuals to accomplish things by the sweat of their own brow has been the hallmark of the American character. However, a proper Christian
perspective puts this idea aside and clings to the promise that God will meet our needs if we depend only on him.
Frankly, it is a matter of balance in our lives that we must pursue. One of the greatest problems in our world today is the belief that we must stress and toil endlessly to provide for ourselves and those that we care about. Of course, I am not advocating that we all quit our jobs and sit around praying that God will simply provide for our needs. However, I am advocating that we allow God to have his way with us in our lives. Our scripture today informs us quite clearly that we only need to seek God and as a result will find the method by which our needs will be met. It isn’t that we shouldn’t work, but it IS where we put our heart that matters most. When we have our heart set on the things of the world, we will surely fall short. When we have our heart set in the things of God, we can not fail!
The keystone verse in our scripture for me is verse 31. “Strive for His Kingdom and these things will be given to you as well."
I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to people who are tired of waiting for this dream, or that goal to come true and are doing everything in their power to make it so... everything in THEIR power. What our scripture says quite clearly is that we are to strive for the kingdom of God and THEN these things will be given to us. We need to declare and then live out our desire to DISCOVER and then to DEPEND on the will of God for our lives.
How is it that we should declare our dependence on God?
First, We need to set our priorities... We need to admit that our priorities are often inconsistent with God’s will for our lives. “I WANT” has become the most common phrase in American culture and as a result we have pursued those things that we want and have given little thought to what it is that God wants for our lives. Plain and simple, it is putting first the Kingdom of God and pursuing his will for our lives rather than going selfishly after our own desires which are often contrary to what God would have us to do.
Secondly, We need to give up our fears... One of the most common phrases in the Bible is “Fear Not”. If we are truly trusting in God and seeking his will for our lives, we will automatically find a reduction in our fear and anxiety levels.
While I don’t know the exact statistics on prescription
medications, I would venture to guess that taken as a group the most common prescription medications in our society are anti-anxiety and depression medications. Largely, those medicines are prescribed to combat fear and anxiety. People feel stressed out, so rather than handing their fears over to God, they are willing to take medications to help them deal with the problem. I have found that the times I have been most at peace have been those times when I took the time to both seek God’s will and then to submit to it. Throughout the 2000 years of Christian history, this experience is quite common. A deep connection with God and an honest pursuit of his will for our lives is the only thing that will allow us to find true and lasting peace. Fear and worry about how we will provide for ourselves and our families is pervasive in our culture, but it is sure to be diminished if we trust God at the deepest level.
Finally, we need to trust God... This means quite simply that we allow him to be our sole source of hope for the future. Institutions made of human effort are sure to fail, but the work of God in our lives is the only thing of eternal significance that can be unquestionably relied upon.
In our little story from the beginning, we have two different perspectives that are equally destructive. The prospective son in law, was content to just think that “God will provide”... and he is right in some ways. God does provide, but not when we sit around and do nothing. We first must make an effort to SEEK HIS KINGDOM!
The prospective Father-in-law was flattered in that he
thought himself to be God and was encouraged by the
perception that the young man thought so as well. Never once did the young man imply that he was viewing the father in that way. More often than not, we find ourselves in the mindset of this father. We think of ourselves as God and in so doing we exclude our Father in heaven from meeting our needs because we don’t have faith enough, or are not willing to submit ourselves fully and completely to his will.
So, my friends, heed the words of Jesus in our scripture for today, “Do not worry about your life”... be willing to put aside your fears and frustrations, your anxieties and your concerns about tomorrow. Trust only in God! Make a declaration of
your dependence on him and strive for his kingdom and you will possess all that you need to have a full and meaningful life. Now and forever!