Sunday, October 22, 2017
Week 7, The Divine Conspiracy
Scripture: Matthew 6
Rev. Jill VanderWal
This week we continue in our series on the Divine Conspiracy and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Verse 21- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The goal is a transformed, changed heart, or spirit – the center of us.
The two greatest barriers to spiritual transformation are the desire for the approval of others and to gain security through wealth or stuff “mammon.”
Live for an Audience of One. Os Guinn first references this as he observed the Puritans who are more “inner directed” versus “other directed.” Am I doing what I know is right or what others think is right?
Jesus discusses 3 aspects of our spiritual life; giving, prayer and fasting. Spiritual disciplines are not meant for others to see but for your Father in heaven. Live with an audience of one. The discipline that underpins this is secrecy. Three times in each section Jesus says…give, pray and fast in secret for your Father who is in secret. Maybe that sounds odd as we are raised thinking we are not supposed to be sneaky or secretive but this is in relation to devious things. In regard to good things which would garner respect and admiration of others, …be secretive. Practice giving, praying, and fasting (going without) without getting credit for it. These things are an expression of the condition of your heart and are for you and God alone. Yes they impact others but the primary focus is being with God.
A young man I knew through church went to prison. I mentioned to a friend on staff that I was concerned but I did not have clearance to visit him. This friend said, “Have Pastor Tim visit him. He visits inmates every Friday.” “What?” I said, surprised. “Oh,” he replied, “he’s done it for years.” I had served with Pastor Tim for about 4 years. I never knew he spent his day off, every week, visiting and counseling men in prison. Tim never said anything about it. He was not doing it to have good sermon examples, he was not doing it to show others his devotion; he visited – in secret. This is what it is to live for an audience of one. To live for an audience of one, to live an inner-directed life is to live for God who is in secret and who sees in secret.
In the first part of Chapter 6 Jesus asks, who or what are you living for?
Then there is a sort of bridge that discusses kingdom living from 3 angles:
- Store up treasure in Heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- The eye is the lamp of the body and if you see light you will be filled with light but if you see darkness you will be filled with darkness. Don’t look to others for approval or admiration. Look around look for what I am doing.
- You cannot serve two masters – God and wealth (mammon…which is really just STUFF)
In the final section, Jesus invites us to live worry free….
Worry show us what we treasure. Worry reveals what we are emotionally connected to and devoted to. What do you worry about?
In this context the worry is about what you will wear and what you will eat. They lived in a hand to mouth society. If Jesus was talking to us today he would say, “don’t worry about your daughter’s chemistry grade, the college your child will get into, your next career move, or whether your house will sell. Don’t worry about your 401k and don’t worry about your health.”
Is life not more than….your kids grades, or your job title, or your 401k value? Well…yes. Jesus says to seek him first – he understands these things are important, but seek him…and then grades, college, career, retirement plans, because life is more than any one of these things.
Instead of worrying, he says “Look! Look at the birds. Are you not more valuable than them? Look at the lilies and the grass….oh you of ‘little faith.’” This saying is almost a term of endearment- “oh you, my little faiths.” If he ways talking to us today, we would say, “ I can’t look, I have 120 emails to respond to, I can’t look…” Jesus tells us to stop and look around. (v27) “Can any of you add an hour to your life by worrying?”
You are seeking, you are so devoted to all these earthly things, and yes, your Creator in heaven knows about all these things. All these things are important and God knows about them but if those are your primary focus of your devotion and your emotion…then it will lead to worry.
Shift your devotion…”Seek first my kingdom.” Seek my agenda for the world – for your world, First. God says “put me first.”
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done….on earth. The Prayer. Pray…your kingdom first…and my career second, your will first, my health second. This is an invitation to surrender your whole life.
Why worry about tomorrow? There is no certainty. Work hard, of course, be proactive yes.
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
In our world that is so consumed with worry, fear and anxiety…this is what sets us apart as followers of Christ. To be transformed- to not live stressed, anxious, fearful and worried lives.
33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
What if every night or every morning, you made your list of things you care about, you are working on, you could worry about…and let Jesus say, I know. I’m in with you. Worry will not change anything.
Tomorrow- if we met Jesus in tomorrow, He would say, “What are you doing here? Go home, live the day you’re in. A friend of mine described her anxiety as an overwhelming re-hashing of what could happen in the future with no ability to take action. She felt like she was going crazy. She went on medication, made some life changes and started to be able to live back in the present.
Where is your emotion? Where is your devotion? What is your level of worry and anxiety? What does this say about your treasure?
Where do you live? (today, tomorrow- or maybe the past). (v33) Jesus invites us to seek His kingdom first, to trust in Him today and trust He will also meet us in all our tomorrows…and all these things will be given to you as well.