Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Are You So Worried About?

by Rev. David Stratton

I think we received more requests for a recording of the sermon of this past Sunday than any sermon I've ever preached. I'm not convinced the sermon was all that good. It just took up a topic that is a struggle for many people: worry.

Sunday's sermon was the second in a series on the story of a leper named Naaman found in 2 Kings 5. In this installment we focused on verses 4-8 in which the King of Israel received a request that he misinterpreted badly. Naaman was the commander of the military forces of neighboring Aram and he received word that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure him of his leprosy. He went to the King of Israel with a note from the King of Aram requesting healing for Naaman.

Somewhere in the chain of communication there was some confusion because the note from the King of Aram asked that the King of Israel rather than the prophet to cure Naaman. When the King of Israel received this request that he could fill he assumed the worst. He tore his robes in an expression of grief and stated his conviction that this must be part of a plot to start a war.

Well, that wasn't it at all. This was no prelude to war. Naaman just needed some help and he heard that he could find that help in Israel. The King of Israel was very worried about what might happen. He was worried about a threat that did not exist. He thought there was a threat--a very serious threat--but he was wrong.

When Elisha the prophet heard about the King's response to the note, he sent a message to him in which he asked, "Why have you torn your robes?" (2 Kings 5:8, TNIV). Again, the tearing of the robes was an expression of grief and, in this context, it was specifically an expression of the King's worries about what might happen. So, in essence, the prophet asked the King, "What are you so worried about?"

The truth was the King had nothing to worry about.

As we saw on Sunday, this episode points us in the direction of several New Testament teachings that make us aware that the followers of Christ should not be worriers. One of the most significant passages in this regard is this word of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6:34, TNIV).

Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't worry about what might happen in the future. This is the teaching of Jesus to his followers. He didn't say that we won't have any troubles, for we will have troubles. He didn't say that we won't experience pain in this world, for we will experience pain. But the Lord did indicate that we must not worry about such things. Can we do that? Is it realistic?

Do we believe the Bible?

The King of Israel was worried about what might happen but things weren't nearly as bad as he thought. That's often the way it is with the things we worry about. But the really good news is that, even if things are as bad as we think or even worse, Jesus indicates that we still must not worry.

The thing that really gets me about Jesus' saying that we must not worry about tomorrow is that he was on his way to the cross and he knew it. And the cross was really horrible. Still he said, "Don't worry about tomorrow." In other words, no matter what you face, don't worry about tomorrow. The promise of the resurrection made Jesus that confident.

Do we trust him? Then what are we so worried about?

Dave Stratton is the Pastor of Brunswick Islands Baptist Church in Supply, NC, and he serves as Chair of CBFNC’s Wealth and Poverty Task Force. This article originally appeared on Dave’s blog, David’s Deliberations.

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