Today we are going to finish up our series What Would Jesus UNdo. While Jesus came to show us how to live, and set for us an example of what we are to do, like loving people, serving others, and worshiping God, Jesus also came to undo powers, patterns and behaviors that can take over our lives and lead us away from God. David did a great job these past few weeks talking about how Jesus wants to undo things like hypocrisy, spiritual pride, and shallow worship. These are behaviors God has always wanted to break apart in our lives so it makes sense that Jesus came to teach us and show us how to undo them. Today I want us to consider a problem that most of us struggle with and that many of us have just accepted as part of our lives, but something that Jesus clearly wants to undo – worry.
Take a look at some of the top things adults worry about.
• Pet’s health
• Being a good parent
• Relationship with spouse
• Being happy
• Job security & job performance
• Debt & financial security
• Having enough for the future
• Getting older
I find it interesting that we worry about our pets’ health but our own health or the health of our family didn’t make this list.
Now here are the top things that teens worry about.
• School performance
• Appearance & popularity
• Friends & family
• Love & sex
• Substance abuse
• Future plans & happiness
What’s interesting is that whether we are young or old, we worry about the same things: love and relationships, our appearance, and our future. I talk with many people who tell me that they have given up trying to stop worrying because it is just the way they are, but if worry is robbing us of joy, and if worry ties us up in knots so that we can’t enjoy anything good in life, then it is time to let Jesus undo worry, and believe it or not – he came to do just that.
To understand how to undo worry, we first need to think about what causes us to worry. If we dig below the surface of worry what we find is fear. If we are worried about school or our jobs it’s because we are afraid we might fail in school or lose our jobs. If we are worried about our looks it could be because we are afraid of losing our spouse, or never finding one to begin with. Worrying about getting older means we are afraid of the unknown or maybe it is the fear of dying. Fear leads to worry and Jesus came to undo fear.
When it was first announced to Mary that Jesus, the Messiah, was going to be born through her, the angel said, do not be afraid. When the angel told Joseph what was going to happen, and that he needed to take Mary as his wife, the angel said, do not be afraid. The angel says this because hearing God’s plan caused them to be afraid and that fear led to worry. Both Mary and Joseph worried about what God’s plan would mean for their relationship with one another. They worried about their standing in the community. The worried about what all of this meant for their future. Would they be able to do what God was asking them to do? God’s plan brought the fear of the unknown which caused them to worry, but instead of telling them do not worry the angel addressed the underlying cause of worry and said, do not be afraid. So the very first thing that Jesus came to do was to undo fear which will help undo worry.
Undoing fear is something God has always wanted to do in our lives. In some form or another, God says over 300 times in the Bible, do not be afraid. Some have said there are 365 of these fear not statements, which means we could read one every day, and that’s not a bad idea because one way to overcome fear and undo worry is to remember God’s love. If we can remember God’s love for us every day, then every day the power of worry is undone.
In the gospel of John, Jesus addressed the fear and anxiety that the disciples were going to face when he was no longer going to be with them in person and his solution was to remember. In John 14 Jesus says, do not let your hearts be troubled. In other words, don’t worry, but then he goes on to tell us how we can undo that worry and be at peace - John 14:25-27.
Notice that peace comes when we remember all that Jesus has said, and what Jesus spent his life saying is that God loves us and God will always be with us. Jesus taught us that the power of God’s love is always with us, and God’s love is greater than any power that comes against us. The Apostle Paul said it this way, I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If God loves us, and God is for us, then who or what can stand against us. If nothing can stand against us, then why are we worried? Why are we afraid? The problem is that we forget God’s love too easily, and when we forget this – we fear the future, and when we forget this – we worry.
So Jesus says we can undo worry by remembering that God loves us and that God’s love is always with us, but he also says that we can take this a step farther and not just remember God’s love but actually turn and seek God. We hear this in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:25-33
Did you notice that the things Jesus said we worry about were on that list we saw earlier? What will we eat? Our diet. What will we wear? Our appearance. Not much has changed, we worry about the same thing today that people worried about 2000 years ago, and Jesus says we can undo that worry when we remember God’s love.
Jesus reminds us that God made the birds of the air and he loves them so He takes care of them. Aren’t we more valuable than birds? Doesn’t God love us more than birds? And God made the grass of the fields and the plants for sale in our fellowship hall and He loves them so he provides for them. Aren’t we more valuable than plants? Doesn’t God love us more than plants? Yes, God loves us more than plants and birds because we have been created in God’s image. We are God’s children and he loves us, so God will provide for us. When we remember God’s love and the promise Jesus made that God will provide, it eases our fear and begins to undo worry.
But notice that undoing worry doesn’t just happen when we remember, it comes when we seek God’s kingdom first. Matthew 6:33 - Seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness and then all these things will be given to you. Jesus says we undo worry in our lives when we actively seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, and this involves 2 things:
1. Seeking God. We can’t seek God’s kingdom without first seeking God. In many ways, to know God is to know God’s kingdom because the kingdom of God isn’t a place or location but a life that reflects the life of God. The more we know God, the less worry we will have, and we can seek God, and we get know God through deep and genuine worship. We can seek God and deepen our relationship with God through prayer. We can seek God through his word. We can also seek God and know more about God through the world God created and through the community of faith God gives us.
2. Make Jesus the center of our lives. The second way we seek God’s kingdom is make Jesus the center of our lives. Because the kingdom of God is not a location but a way of life God reveals to us in Jesus, when we place Jesus at the center of our lives we find the strength and power to live out this life. So the kingdom of God isn’t found by seeking Jesus but by making Jesus the center of our lives so we can begin to live the way Jesus lived.
The kingdom of God is found when we choose to love like Jesus, and forgive like Jesus, and when we trust like Jesus, and follow God’s word like Jesus. Making these choices and living this life is only possible when Jesus is truly the center of our lives and we are trusting his power and love.
So Jesus is able to undo worry in our lives as we Remember God’s Love, and when we Seek God’s Kingdom, but there is another practical step we can take to undo worry and that is to Serve Others. I heard a well-known counselor once say that she asked all her patients who came in to talk about anxiety and depression to first talk about the ways they were serving others. Most of them were not reaching out and serving others, so her first prescription wasn’t for medication or meditation, she told them to serve. Find a way to serve others and help others because serving and helping doesn’t just lift others up, it lifts us up. Serving does more good in our lives than in the lives of those we serve, and if you have ever served others, you know this is true.
Serving others gives us perspective in life. It helps us see that we are not alone in our fears and anxiety. It helps us see that we are not alone in our problems, and sometimes it helps us put our problems into a perspective. Serving others also helps us see that there is help out there when we need it. Just as we help and serve people in their times of need, so will people be willing to help and serve us in our needs, all of this can ease our fear and undo worry.
So we undo worry by remembering who God is, and by seeking God’s kingdom, and by serving others, but we also can undo worry be receiving the salvation God gives us through Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as our Savior brings with it a freedom that can never be taken away. God’s salvation means we are free from the penalty of sin, and free from shame and guilt that often comes with sin. Accepting Jesus as our Savior allows us to experience all the fullness and power God has for us. God’s salvation means that our future is always secure, that there is always a better life waiting for us, and that there is an eternal life that is ours as well. As Paul said, in all things we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. God’s salvation frees us from fear and it is that freedom which begins to undo worry. With Christ as our Savior, all the forces of hell can beat against us but we will not fall, and we will not fail, and we will not be afraid because God’s saving grace is with us and God’s love will see us through. God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is a power that can undo worry.
So don’t give in to worry, and don’t tell yourself that you will always be a worrier, when worry comes, remember that Jesus came to undo worry and he shows us how.
• Remember God
• Seek God’s Kingdom
• Serve Others
• Accept God’s Salvation
Relationship with God
Remember God’s Love
• Begin each day with a prayer thanking God for being with you and for loving you.
• Identify the place in your day where you will need to know God’s love and power. Ask God be with you.
Seek God’s Kingdom
• Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
• Identify what the kingdom of God looks like, and what it might look like in your life.
Accept God’s Salvation
• Ask Jesus to forgive your sin and the guilt of sin.
• Ask God to set you free from fear.
• See how eternal life begins today and lasts forever.
Relationship with the Church
• All around us (even in the church) are people who are worried. Identify one person you can pray for, love, encourage, and support as they seek God’s kingdom.
o Let them know you are there for them.
o Share God’s love and grace with them.
Relationship with the World
• Identify one way you and your family can serve in our community during the summer.