Summary: A sermon about finding happiness and contentment based on Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:4-13.
“What Have You Got to Lose?”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Has it ever struck you what a basically happy person Jesus was?
Oh yes, we know that, according to the prophecies, Jesus was “a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.”
We know the darkness and sadness of all the world that descended on Him as He went to the Cross…
…the scene in Gethsemane, where He is wrestling with His Father’s will, and the agony of it all.
We know Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, and that He was heart-broken when people refused to trust and accept God.
But these things are dark patches painted on a bright background!
In the Gospel lesson from Matthew that we read earlier, we see the joy that flows out of Jesus’ own experience of life.
He had watched the birds wheeling around, high up on the currents of the air in the Galilean hills, simply enjoying being alive.
They never seemed to do the sort of work humans do, and yet they mostly stayed alive and well.
He had watched a thousand different kinds of flowers growing in fertile soil—the word “lilies” in verse 28 of Matthew 6 includes all kinds of different plants.
The world is a virtual art gallery!!!
Where did this beauty come from?
It didn’t stand in front of the mirror putting on make-up.
It didn’t go shopping in the mall.
It was just…itself: glorious, God-given, beautiful!
Jesus’ teachings are miles away from those teachers of His day who insisted that the world was just a place of shadows, doom and gloom.
Jesus’ teaching grew out of His own experience.
When He told His followers not to worry about tomorrow, we must assume that Jesus led by example.
Jesus wasn’t always looking ahead anxiously, and thus making the present moment miserable.
No, Jesus was living in the present, celebrating the goodness of God here and now.
And if that’s not a recipe for happiness, I don’t know what is.
And Jesus wants us to experience this same happiness.
So, Jesus urges us to make God our priority.
God has filled this world with wonderful and mysterious things, full of beauty and energy and excitement, and God wants us to trust Him and love Him and thus receive our own beauty, energy and excitement from God!
Of course, we live in a world of anxiety and it’s easy to let it rub off on us.
Anxiety was a way of life for many people in the ancient pagan world.
With so many gods and goddesses, all of them potentially out to get you for something you might not even know about, you never knew what bad thing was waiting for you around the corner.
And with the One True God, Who has revealed God’s-self in Jesus Christ, there is still no guarantee against suffering, but there is the certainty that God is good, that God loves us, and that this good God is ultimately in control!!!
But yes, anxiety can creep up and rob from us the joy and happiness which comes from this Truth!
You never know what’s going to happen.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This may sound easy until we realize that as Paul was writing these words He himself was lying in prison with almost certain death awaiting him.
But Paul had found the secret of all of life.
He had learned to put everything into the hands of the Lord!
He was the Lord’s and the Lord was His, and that was what mattered most.
Is that what matters most in your life, in mine?
As Christians, we are to keep this in mind…
We can never lose Christ, and therefore we should never let anything get in the way of our joy and happiness!
If Christ is our all-in-all, what else do we need?
The world is full of worry and uncertainty.
But the Christian life is founded on the Rock of Christ, not on the sand of the world and the shifting opinions of others.
Storms in life will come, but Christ is stronger and greater than any storm.
A number of years ago, a widow…
…a member of the church I grew up in was told by her doctor that she had an incurable cancer.
There was nothing that could be done.