Faith

Today’s readings talk about  faith.  Once again, they remind us that faith is a gift from God that the  Holy Spirit creates in us.  It is this gift of faith that holds on to the  promises that God gives to us through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Faith tells us that this  world is not all that there is.  Our senses of sight, hearing, touch,  taste, and smell tell us about this material world.  God’s Word tells us  that there is a spiritual world that is beyond our senses.  We can only  learn the truth about that world from God’s Word.  We can only believe the  truth about that world through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith.

Because we enter this world  as sinners in a sinful world, it is very natural to believe that this world is  all that there is.  Even if we begin to wonder how all this world came to  be and begin to believe in some sort of spiritual world, our knowledge of that  world will be pure guesswork.  And, because we are sinners, that guesswork  will be wrong.

Even Christians, people who  have the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, struggle with the truth of the spiritual  world.  That is where Jesus encourages us in today’s Gospel.  Jesus  understands that it is easy to be anxious about food when you are hungry.   It is easy to be anxious about clothes when you are wearing rags.

It may seem strange, but  humanity manages to worry even when things are perfect.  Clear back in  Genesis – back in Eden – Eve was worried.  The seeds of worry were planted  when Eve began to wonder about the forbidden fruit – that maybe God was holding  something back about the fruit’s benefits.  In spite of the fact that she  was queen of the entire universe and could look forward to an immortal life of  perfect health and happiness, she was worried.  Perhaps God was not  allowing her to develop to her full potential.  She trusted the Word of a  Serpent more than the Word of God.

When we worry, we are saying  one of two things about God.  We are either saying that God is not powerful  enough to help us, or that God is powerful, but doesn’t care – or maybe He even  wants to hold us back.  In any case, we are saying that we cannot rely on  God and must therefore rely on ourselves and on our stuff.  When we trust  in ourselves above all things, we are saying that we are god.  When we  trust in our stuff above all things, we are saying that our stuff is god.   Either way, we are committing idolatry.  We are not trusting in God above  all things.  In fact, we are not trusting in God at all.

Worry is not only spiritually  damaging, but it isn’t even helpful in this earthly world.  Worry  accomplishes nothing and can be physically harmful.  Jesus said, “Which of  you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then  you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the  rest?” Modern medicine tells us that the stress of anxiety may cause a variety  of disorders that will shorten our life.  Why then, in spite of all the  harm that worry does, do we still worry?

While worry is not part of  our human nature, it – like all our sins – is part of the sinful nature that we  have.  The corruption of sin that brought frustration, injury, illness, and  death into this world also makes us worriers from birth.  Worry is part of  the package that comes with our original sin.

What then can be done about  this worry?  Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about  your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.   For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”  At first, it  may seem that Jesus is telling us to simply change our attitude.  If we are  not careful, we might take these words to mean that we should just buck up and  get with the program.  We should just adopt a happy attitude and all our  worries will go away.  If that were all that Jesus meant when He said these  words, we would have every right to despair because in spite of our best  efforts, we still worry.  Thankfully, there is much more for us in these  words.

Jesus doesn’t just tell us  that life is more than food.  He gives us life.  Life with Jesus is  more than just the years that we spend here on this earth.  By calling  attention to the short life of the grass of the field, He reminds us that we  inherited an immortal soul from our first father, Adam – a soul that was  breathed into Him by the very breath of God.  The end of our lives here on  this earth is not our final destination.  Our final destination is in  eternity.

Jesus gently chides us for  worrying about clothing by reminding us that the clothing He provides for even  the simplest flower is superior to the finest clothing that Solomon’s tailors  could design.  Jesus is not just talking about flowers here.  He is  telling us that in eternity we too shall rise with newly transformed and  immortal bodies – bodies that are more than clothing.  God has provided a  new set of clothes for us that far exceeds all other clothes.  He has  clothed us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

This is the righteousness of  Christ’s perfect, sinless life.  As the prophet Isaiah wrote, [Isaiah  61:10] “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God,  for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the  robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a  beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

We did not have the right to  wear that righteous dress, but Jesus, the Christ, took the filthy rags of our  worry and other sins to the cross.  With His sacrificial suffering and  death, He earned the right for us to wear His eternal righteousness.  Now  He gives us the right to be adopted as His brothers so that we can wear the  glorious robes of His righteousness and call His Father our Father.  God  has clothing for us that is infinitely better than the clothing of the grass of  the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven.

We have the assurance that  Jesus has earned all these gifts for us because He did not remain in the grave  after He died for us, but He rose from the dead and ascended to rule at the  right hand of the Father.  This resurrection assures us that the glorious  robes of Christ’s righteousness now belong to us.

Where can we find such  wonderful garments?  You find them in the Word of God.  The Bible  says, [Romans  10:17] Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of  Christ.  The Holy Spirit has chosen to bestow these garments of  righteousness through Christ’s Word – – as it is combined with the water of Holy  Baptism – and as it is combined with the bread and wine so that Jesus Himself  gives us His true body and His true blood at His table.  It is through  these means that the Holy Spirit has chosen to create and nurture the miracle of  faith.  And it is the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith that covers us with the  robe of Christ’s righteousness.

When you worry and the Holy  Spirit reminds you that it is a sin, He will also remind you that you are a  baptized child of God.  He will remind you that Jesus has redeemed you from  sin, death, and the power of the devil with His holy precious blood and His  innocent suffering and death.  He will remind you that you wear the  righteousness of Christ and not even the grass of the fields is arrayed as  gloriously.  He will remind you that after that grass has long since been  converted to smoke, you will wear those robes of Christ’s righteousness in the  eternity of His presence.  Amen

A Message from Rev.James  Batchelor  brought to you by Grace  Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact  Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected].  A Pass it On Project

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