Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thinking Biblically About Worry, III of V

Shrunken worlds and worry

To understand why we Christians tend to worry more than anyone should with our theology of everyday life, I am going to have to take you on a bit of a biblical tour. I want to begin with two verses that provide a stunning insight into what sin does to all of us. These verses begin to point us to why worry is such a universal struggle. "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all...that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; emphasis mine).

In the ten words that I have highlighted, Paul makes a thunderous observation about how sin fundamentally alters every person's approach to life. I was meant to live for something vastly bigger than myself. I was created to live for God - His kingdom and His glory. I was designed to get my identity, meaning and purpose, and my inner sense of well-being vertically. I was made to get my reason for doing what I am doing and my rest in the middle of doing it from God. But sin causes every one of us to live for ourselves, that is, to shrink our lives to the size of our lives. Sin causes us to reduce the field of our dreams and concerns down to our wants, our needs, and our feelings. Sin makes us scarily self-focused, self-absorbed, and self-motivated.

What does this have to do with worry? Everything! As a results of sin, no longer do we attach our inner peace to a God who is the definition of wisdom, power, and love and who will never, ever change. No, without realizing what we have done, we begin to look for identity, meaning and purpose, and our inner sense of well-being horizontally. We look to the broken and ever-changing situations and relationships of this fallen world for our purpose and our inner rest. Things that were not designed to give us peace and over which we have no control become our replacement messiahs. We ask them to do for us what only God is able to do. You see, here is what happens: important things (like family, work, housing, money, etc.) become all too important to us because they become the places we look to for rest. When they do, they not only do not give us rest, they become the reason for the endless cycles of worry, anxiety, and fear that, frankly, are in the daily lives of too many believers. Your job is important, but it must not be the source of your identity, and when it is, it becomes the cause of endless anxiety. Your marriage or friendships are important, but they must not be the place you look for inner peace. Here's what Scripture moves us to say. Worry that drives or paralyzes us reveals more about what is inside of us than what is outside of us. This is where I think our next passage, Matthew 6:19-34, is so helpful.
~Article by Paul David Tripp

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