Sunday 26th, 2020
Most of us own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of all the clutter. We tire of cleaning and managing and organizing. Our toy rooms are messy, our drawers don’t close, and our closets are filled from top to bottom. The evidence of clutter is all around us. There are 300,000 items in the average American home. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years. 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them. 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage. It is estimated that there is enough off-site storage space that it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of storage roofing. But that’s only if the kids don’t bring their toys. It’s estimated that the average American child has 238 toys and only plays with 12 of them. (or they play with the box) It’s a serious thing.
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus addresses a lot of things to beware of in life. One of them is the desire for things, the obsession for things. And it wasn’t about owning things because the most of the people he was addressing were far from rich. Yet, they all needed to hear this same message. He addresses our desires, our values, our innermost motivations, our purpose in life. Because money and things are not evil. A very Godly man once said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” Those are the three basic points of John Wesley’s famous sermon entitled, “The Use of Money.” So, Jesus is standing in front a crowd of poor nomads and says be careful with your heart. Because what you treasure most owns your heart. He goes further, explaining that you can’t serve God and serve things. There’s a real danger. Most of the people listening were probably either envious of the rich, or angry at the rich because of their own poor circumstances. But they were just as focused on physical stuff as anyone, and maybe even more so. So, Lord went right to the heart of the matter. He says the problem is not the stuff itself, but the fact that we become so obsessed with our physical needs that we are always balled up about it. How am I going to live? How will I make ends meet? How will I ever reach my full potential? Will I be successful? Life hasn’t changed much in 2000 years because in front of him, Jesus saw a people wondering around motivated only by their own anxieties.
Matthew 6:25-33 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they don’t sow or reap or worry about saving up, gathering into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they are? 27 And by being anxious can you add a single hour to your life span? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Think about the lilies of the field, how they grow: they don’t toil and sew, 29 yet, even Solomon in all of his glory was not dressed like one of them. 30 If God clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is gone, will he not clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
What a beautiful picture of a disciple. Jesus said this is what it is to follow me: To throw off every encumbrance, to even forsake the things that you think you need and to just follow. To make Jesus your one priority. We tend to let life distract us. We get mired down in the details of life’s demands. But for those who follow Jesus, there is really only one thing. Jesus said a disciple seeks after His kingdom, seeks His kingdom first. One thing is above all the details of life - putting the pursuit of making His name great. That means seeking His kingdom come and of His will being done, in everything seeking to advance God’s reign. The Lord said that a disciple seeks first His righteousness. That is, above everything else, he submits to the standards and the ethics that God has put into place. And, above all, trusts in Jesus’ righteousness for his salvation. Again, it’s a perfect picture of a discipleship. What it is to follow is to surrender everything, even all the little details that we think we need, that we know we need. He says that the Father will provide these, you seek first My Kingdom and My righteousness. So, see and understand this, that based on this passage, God’s call on our lives is complete, all encompassing. Jesus doesn’t leave room for a little bit of following or a lot of following. There’s no spectrum of commitment. He says either you’re all in or you’re all out. Over here on the left you can’t have one foot in, and way over here on the right your whole being is in. No, He says there’s one way to follow and it is to seek My Kingdom first.
When Jesus calls us to follow, He calls our whole being into surrender. He is commanding us to lay it all down, let that old kingdom collapse, give up all your old pursuits. If I really want to be His disciple, I have to stop worrying about my own kingdom. Stop taxing your life, constantly thinking about how to hold on to what I have and what I want or need and make first the pursuit of His kingdom and His righteousness. That is a high cost. Following Jesus is a costly thing. Discipleship is costly. And yet, in light of the gain, we can’t even rightly call it a cost, not in light of what we gain through a relationship with Jesus Christ. And compared to the sacrifice that He made on the cross, whatever we’re doing by throwing off everything in our lives is just the logical response. It’s like me offering you a dream vacation and saying that there is one cost: you have to leave home in order to go. That’s not a cost. It’s a logical response to a fantastic opportunity. And we have this privilege. So, Jesus says lay down your life and follow me. Throw off your life and make your number one pursuit my kingdom and my righteousness. And the cost will be letting that old life die. But the gain you find in following me will be limitless. So, Jesus is calling us to surrender our worries and our anxieties and our entire lives. And in doing so, He promises, and is faithful to that promise, that we will gain Him. And He will be enough. He will be enough to quench every desire and longing of our soul. The call on the disciple is clear. It’s to make Jesus everything, to make Him our one pursuit. When life seems too complex and you feel like you are being stung by a swarm of responsibilities, Jesus teaches us to make His Kingdom our one pursuit. The cost is high. The cost is everything. He asks for all of you, to be all in. And the gain in all of that is complete.
So, while we let our minds slide into patterns of anxiety, this one idea can free us if we embrace it. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. So today and in the days ahead, when you are feeling anxious, remind yourself that there is really just one thing that is important.
To be His. One thing. Seek first His Kingdom. Amen?