Monday Morning Pastor / Staff Picks

Note: Each week we will have a guest writer who will share a few of their personal thoughts on Sunday’s sermon. Unlike Monday Morning Quarterbacking, from which this series gets its name, we aren’t looking to critique so much as share how we have been personally impacted. This week’s post comes from Dave Hallahan.

Message: Do Not Worry For Your Life
Passage: Luke 12:22-34

When you make the rules, you get to break the rules. Fear not, this wasn’t my take away from this Sunday’s sermon. But it is a convenient truth because today I am merging the two features of our blog: Monday Morning Pastor and Staff Picks. Leah and I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism and I had planned to write a Staff Picks about it. Then Mark’s sermon played on some similar themes so here we have our first ever mashup post!

Minimalism is a documentary that follows two guys, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, who are known as The Minimalists. Both Ryan and Joshua grew up in relatively low-income families and faced many hardships growing up due to their socioeconomic status. Heading into high school they were determined to make something of themselves and to set themselves up on a path that took them far from poverty. Both were successful in doing that. Ryan mentions at one point in the documentary that early in college he decided that a $50,000 salary would make him both rich and happy. It wasn’t long after college that he had reached that benchmark. But something was wrong. His original calculations were off because he didn’t feel particularly rich or happy. The race for more continued. At the start of the documentary Ryan says, “I had everything I ever wanted. I had everything I was supposed to have. Everyone around me said, ‘You’re successful.’ But really, I was miserable. There was this gaping void in my life. So I tried to fill that void with the same things that many people do, stuff…”

Throughout the film we hear more about Ryan and Joshua’s story as well as stories from many people like them who have experienced success by every metric the world has to offer. Yet none of them found contentment in this success. Pastor Mark pointed out that in America we are richer, freer, and safer than any society anywhere in the world at any point in the world. Despite this we’re miserable. We’re longing for more.

The documentary was interesting, informative and convicting. I literally put half of my t-shirts in a bag to be donated as soon as I was done. But as Leah and I watched we were both waiting for the same thing and it never came. We were waiting for these guys to talk about Jesus. Here is how they explain minimalism on their website:

“Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.”

It would be really easy for the next sentence to connect minimalism to the hope we find in Jesus Christ. The movie never got there, but Pastor Mark’s message – and more specifically Jesus’ words – did. In fact, Jesus’ words in Luke 12:22-23 could totally be the follow up to their explanation of minimalism.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Life is more than a salary, a car, a house, a social status, a                       . We all know this in our heads to be true, but our hearts are prone to wander. So easily life becomes about these things. We get stuck in the rat race. One of my biggest takeaways from both the movie and the message was that having ‘stuff’ causes you to worry about ‘stuff.’ To say it another way, when life becomes about accumulating stuff – houses, cars, tech gadgets, or zeroes at the end of a back account – life will necessarily become about KEEPING that stuff. You worry about how you are going to get something, then you worry about how you are going to keep that something, then you worry about how you are going to replace that something…and the cycle goes on.

There’s an obvious material component to all of this. Jesus talks about it in the form of food and clothing. It’s easier to see how that can be unhealthy. “But my worries are not so shallow. I worry about my kids and keeping them out of trouble and making sure they follow Jesus.” Or whatever ‘righteous’ worries fill your brain. We justify our worries as a form of preparedness. ABC anchor, Dan Harris, shares the role that worry played in his life during a portion of the documentary. He says, “…as a guy who spent his whole life worrying, and thinking my worry was the edge I had over everyone else, because I knew I would be more anxious and more compulsive then any of my competitors…”

Sound familiar? He justified his worry as an edge he had over his competition. His worry lead him to be compulsive…and this was supposed to be a good thing. After a panic attack live on Good Morning America, he sought help. While talking with a Buddhist monk he got some wisdom that sounds like it comes right from Jesus. “When you find yourself worrying constantly about the same thing ask yourself, ‘is this useful?'” Or as Jesus puts it:

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Worry may be natural. But living as if your worry is productive is deceitful. When worry creeps in may we all be reminded of all the Lord does for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Even more so, let us be reminded of the lengths to which God was willing to go for us, “becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!” When we walk by sight we have little choice but to worry. It only makes sense to worry. But when we walk by faith we can have full confidence that the God who feeds the ravens, dresses the lilies, and “so loved the world that he gave his one and only son” is the same God who is in control of whatever is bringing us worry.

 

Contact Dave Hallahan if you’d like to contribute to this series.
Listen to the full sermon here