Summary: "It's a scary world out there." True. So how do you deal with it? Worry? Or God's Word?
SEEK GOD FIRST (Matthew 6:31-33)
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Last month I was at Walmart with my family - my wife needed to do some shopping, and my job was to keep our little kids occupied so that she could concentrate on what she was doing. The kids and I headed straight to the toy section, and while we were looking at Barbies and Nerf guns, one of the workers at Walmart came around the corner and saw my children. He was a nice man, a little older, and he said, "Those are some nice kids you have. I'm an empty nester - my kids are all grown up. I wouldn't want to be raising kids in this world today - this world is a scary place," he said. "Keep your kids in school. This world is scary, and so keep your kids in school." I thanked him for his advice and we moved on to the next aisle.
But there was something he said, that I wasn't sure about. Is this world a scary place? Yes. The sins of violence and greed and immorality dominate our world and make it "scary." "I wouldn't want to be raising kids in this world today?" I've heard people say that before, and it doesn't surprise me. But what I wasn't sure about was when he said, "Keep your kids in school, because this world is a scary place." Now what does that mean? I agree that staying in school is good. Dropping out of grade school or high school is a really bad idea. But I don't think he meant that. "Keep your kids in school, because the world is scary."
Will school prepare my kids for all the violence and greed and immorality they will someday face? Math and science and reading and social studies - will that help my kids when they have to process the sudden death of a loved one, or cancer in their own bodies? Stay in school because of that?
And so as I was standing in the middle of Walmart, I was thinking to myself that I didn't agree with what that man said. I know he was just trying to be friendly, and didn't intend for me to think so deeply about what he said. But there is a way to fix what he said. Instead of "Keep your kids in school, because it's a scary world," I would say, "Keep your kids in God's Word, because it's a scary world." If you're a parent, what do you want for your child someday? Don't you want your child to grow up and have a sense of security and self-esteem? Don't you want your child to know that he or she is loved, and to be able to love someone else? Don't you want your child to be content and happy? But how will that happen, in this scary world? I don't think the secret is to keep your kids in school. The key is to: "Keep your kids in God's Word."
This morning we're going to look at a section of the Bible where Jesus speaks to people who live in a scary world, and they are worried. We're going to apply this passage to Christian education and highlight the ministry at Lakeside Lutheran High School.
How do we know that the people Jesus was speaking to worried people? Because of the way Jesus talked to them. "Do not worry," Jesus said in verse 25. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Jesus asked in verse 27. "Why do you worry?" verse 28. "Do not worry," verse 31. "Do not worry about tomorrow," verse 34. Jesus was talking to people who believed that they lived in a scary world. And what made it scary was that they weren't sure where their next meal was going to come from, or how they would be able to afford buying the clothes they needed. These people had forgotten that there was a God in heaven who loved them and promised that he would take care of their physical needs. "O you of little faith," Jesus said to them. And because of their lack of faith in their Heavenly Father, they were consumed with worry.
Instead of spending all your time and energy and money on getting food and clothing, Jesus told them, "Your heavenly Father knows that you need (these things). But (instead), seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." There is a whole other world out there - God's kingdom of mercy and grace - use your time and energy and money first for that, Jesus told them. And righteousness - what is right and good and admirable - the world has its own definition of righteousness. But God's definition of what is right and good - use your time and energy and money first for that. And as you do, trust that your Heavenly Father will take care of you, and give you the food and clothes you need. That's how you deal with this scary world, Jesus was told the people. Focus first on God, and trust him, and you will be blessed.