We're almost finished with our series on 1 Corinthians, as Epiphany winds down. This week's sermon is Part 6. The governing big idea has been that there is always a gap between the ideal and the actual. We all know what we're supposed to do, say, think, and feel, but we never actually do, say, think, and feel them. The consequence of this gap is that if we try to fill it with our own efforts is that we will shred ourselves, and likely those around us. In this passage of chapter 3, Paul is calling out those who have criticized or doubted his authority as an apostle. He says to them that he's not worried about their judgment of him, because God alone will judge him. God will bring to light that which is hidden, and thus we ask, "By what standard will we be judged?"
The answer to this is found in today's reading in Matthew 6:24-34, where Jesus points out that you and I will not be judged by all the things we aquire, NOR by how much we strive for and/or are anxious about such things. Jesus asks, which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life. All anxiety does is indicate your allegiance to worldly provision of your needs, not to God's provision of your needs. God gives the birds of the air food and clothes the flowers of the fields in beauty - how much more so, Jesus states, will God provide for us who are worth much more than birds and flowers. Now, most of us don't wake up in the morning and struggle with questions of basic subsistence, what will I eat or what will I wear, but there are absolutely people in our community who do.
But while we might not be in a day and age that is dominated by severe matters of basic subsistence, we do know all too well what it is to be anxious. We worry about the pending results of a medical exam/test, we worry about the big presentation at work, we worry about the stability of a relationship. The reason we are anxious is ultimately because we are relying on worldly answers to present themselves, because if we truly trusted in God we wouldn't be anxious. Essentially Jesus is showing us that anxiety is sin.
But is the answer then to say, "Have you tried just not being anxious?" No! Because that certainly doesn't work! Furthermore, I don't want to make light of the serious things that keep you up at night. What we do need in the face of our anxieties is not to deny its there, but assurance. If you knew the results of your pending test results, would you be anxious. No, you wouldn't. However, God' doesn't promise full disclosure of the outcome of all our anxious issues. God doesn't promise to take away the things that cause us to be anxious, but he does say, "Do you trust me?" The answer to anxiety is faith, and Jesus will give us assurance in the face of our anxiety.
The Collect for today asks that God would save us from "faithless fears and worldly anxieties" and we ask God to help us to "cast our cares on you who cares for us." There is really no simple formulaic answer to our anxieties - perhaps it would be nice if there were. All I can do is point you to Jesus Christ, tell you to trust in him and cast your cares on him, for he cares for you.