Why do you worry?

In Luke 12, Jesus said, "Don't worry about your life. Don' be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

WARNING: I am about to hyper-contextualize this verse.

Every time a mass killing takes place, it's intended effect is intimidation and fear. Consequently, what happened in Orlando has many people living in fear: the gay community, parents of gay children, Muslims who are afraid of retribution, Christians who are afraid of retribution -- you get the idea. These things are intended to make us afraid -- afraid of strangers and foreigners, afraid of those we disagree with, afraid of each other.

And then Jesus invades our worry and anxiety and asks: Why do you worry?

So what can we as the people of God do when these horrific events seize us? How can we respond when violence shatters our peace and fills us with anxiety, fear, and worry? I offer a few suggestions...

1] We need to be the church. In Christ, we offer a radically different ethic and alternative to hatred and violence. We are the keepers of the Redemption Story of the One who changes lives. We are not the media, we are not the state, we are not the police -- but we are the church!

2] We need to confess our trust in Jesus. I want my confession in Christ to prevail over my responses, and I want the darkness in my heart submitted to him. When Jesus says, "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Bless, and do not curse", those words change me! It is my responsibility to faithfully bring you to Jesus -- and along with you your fears and worries.

3] We need to be humble. We want to react with a knee jerk and two barrel blasts of judgment. We want to make inflammatory statements and ridicule our adversaries. We want to name call and criticize. It may make us feel better, but it is not the Way of Jesus. Our posture of humility toward each other and the world is the Way.

4] We need to imitate Jesus. This is costly and weird and hated (so we need to get over it). Thomas a Kempis said, "All men desire peace, but very few desire those things which make for peace." We want the peace Jesus brings, but how many of us are willing to live the life he calls us to? Jesus didn't work to overthrow Rome, but he brought the kingdom to the human heart.

5] We need to overcome evil with good. Jesus said it; I didn't. "Do not resist evil, but overcome evil with good." The civil authorities will use force to accomplish its will; the Church of Jesus Christ does not. So let the state be the state and the church be the church. When Jesus spoke these words of non-resistance, he wasn't living in a hippy commune inhaling blue smoke while fulfilling a utopian dream. He was under threat for his life! He was living in a violent society where the Romans were slaughtering their enemies, the Zealots were destroying their own people who stood in their way, the Jewish leaders were stoning those who threatened their ideas and power, and criminals preyed on the weak. When Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek", he knew he would have to: he knew the snap of the whip, the strike of the hammer, and the tip of the lance were coming.  But he also knew what was before him and that there was nothing the powers of the world could do to undo the kingdom of the Gospel.

Why do you worry?

Those who inflict terror on us want to make us afraid so we will turn on each other. Every fear and every worry can destroy us from within, draw our attention away from Jesus, distract us from our God-given purpose, direct our vision downward and inward, and seize us up. Every worry can do this.

Why do we worry? Maybe its because we trust in everything else. The antidote to worry is to trust in God. Whether you are trusting him for the next meal or because you fear random violence, trust in God.

Don't be afraid, dear children, God has given us the kingdom.