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REAL LIFE IS MORE

In our area the wildfires have take everything from some people. In view of that, how can Jesus say, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear”? Not worry!!?? And He goes on, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

To understand this, we need to realize that He is talking about REAL LIFE. To those who do not know Christ, the horizon of life is their own death, and all joy and happiness depends upon what happens up to that moment. To those who know Christ, however, there is no horizon to the Real Life that He brings, and like Paul, we say that we consider everything rubbish compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 20, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 6:24–34 (CSB)

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Dear fellow redeemed: This is an interesting text to cover today. As we sit here, there are thousands of evacuees from Phoenix and Talent and Ashland who have lost everything. Some have nothing left but the bathrobe they ran away with. So how can we tell them “don’t worry! Trust in Jesus?”

Right here, we have to change our perspective. If the perspective is, “This is all there is, and I have lost everything. How can God allow this!” Then you will never understand.

The true perspective, the reality, is this: What happened in Phoenix and Talent and two years ago in Paradise, CA, and with Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast a few days ago is the kind of thing that will happen until the end of time. It is the given. So our true hope is to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, for that is salvation FROM all of this. And the One who has given you the greater salvation, will also help you get from here to there; all these things [that we need for this life] will be provided for you as well. But this short life, hinging on having enough calories, avoiding sickness, and all the “stuff” of this world is still not most important. Rather …

REAL LIFE IS MORE

  1. Real Life Is More than Anything
  2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life
  3. Real Life is Enough
  1. Real Life Is More than Anything

Jesus asks a really interesting question, Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Is it? Can you have life without food or clothing? Jesus is talking about REAL life, the life of the soul, immortal life. There aren’t many people who are self-aware who believe that human life is just a body, and that the mind is the 5 pounds of grey matter in between our ears. We recognize the eternal intangible realities that every civilization has recognized: truth, beauty, right and wrong, love, devotion, honor and the like. These are realities, whether they can be measured, weighed, or photographed. And the part of us that senses these things is the part that transcends time, place, and circumstance– our immortal soul..

This life, however, now lives in a physical shell that is marred by sin, saddled with troubles, and doomed to die, all because of a lack of righteousness, as Isaiah says, “But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:2, CSB) And who is without sin? Anger, self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, gossip, greed, lust, contentiousness, sins of the mind and sins of the flesh.

It is to save this immortal life from sin, and in the resurrection to bring immortality to our whole selves, that Christ came. John puts it this way,  “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4, CSB)

So when Jesus tells you that life is more than food, clothing, shelter, more than anything, it is this life that He is talking about, the life that you have now by faith, and in His kingdom, possessing His righteousness, you will enjoy forever. So, more than food and clothing, you need His righteousness.

2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life

This puts everything in perspective. What comes first, and what comes second? Jesus tells us, But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

His righteousness. Your righteousness or mine is nothing really, but the righteousness of Christ is something that IS. It is a reality that Jesus lived out in His life, as true and holy God who took up our humanity. And His righteousness can be given to us, counted as ours, because He also atoned for our un-righteousness. When He lived, suffered, died, and rose again, He accomplished this for all people at all times.

This righteousness is there for you. He gives it to you through His word and sacrament, even as I say His words to you: I forgive you all your sins. You receive this righteousness by faith, and nothing, nothing, nothing, is more valuable, more precious, more desirable, or more important, as Paul put it, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8–9, NIV84)

But considering what has happened to our neighbors and those whom we love, considering what they lost and what they need just to get by, can we truly love God more than money or stuff, as Jesus says we must? Jesus leads us to the right answer by pointing out the realities under which we live. Yes, there are tragedies and there is death because of sin, yet daily life mostly reflects the mercy and love of God. Jesus reminds us that he spends millions of dollars’ worth of grain to feed the birds. He dresses oven fuel better than Solomon. He then puts it to you, Aren’t you worth more than they?

As much as this world is polluted and broken by the sins of humanity, and as undeserving as we are, year after year He “gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and fills our hearts with joy,” (Acts 14:17) 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Yes there will be troubles in this world but the One who has proved His love by not withholding His own son from us, knows what we need. As John says, “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.” (1 John 3:1, CSB)

But we do know Him, so we know that when the fire is over, the rebuilding is finished, and life returns to normal, the most important thing, even more important than whether we survived the fire, or got our house rebuilt, or found a place to live, is that we know Christ, have His righteousness, and are destined for His eternal kingdom.

3. Real Life is Enough

If you have this eternal life, then you don’t have to worry, because real life is enough. Why would we worry? Ultimately it is because, with our sinful natures, we cannot quite divorce ourselves from the mast that Jesus spoke of at the beginning. We tend to love this short, troubled, mortal life, and the money that SEEMS to make it work that the real life that we have in Christ takes a back seat.

Thank God that His forgiveness and His righteousness covers even this idolatry!

So as Christians, we fight against it, so that His kingdom and His righteousness comes first. Take the example of poor Job. He lost more than we can even imagine, yet he confessed, “Though the Lord slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” For even in mortal death, we have the real and everlasting life. This Real life is enough.

Real life, the life of the resurrection, the eternal life of body and soul, the eternal life of joy and blessedness, the eternal fellowship with the Triune God, His angels, and the saints of every age, the new life with a resurrected body attuned to it is enough.

Think about His kingdom, which we are qualified for because of His righteousness. When you are struggling with the bills, or mourning the loss of possessions, or grieving over the hardship in this poor, troubled life, then think about the life that never ends, the life we have because of Christ. For in Him is Real life, and that life is a gift to us, Real life that is truly enough.

AMEN.