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The Paganism of Worry

We live in a world built upon stress, our jobs, the news, social media, politics. So much fills our lives with noise and stress clamoring for our attention and allegiance; we find ourselves choked without peace and stability.

In the Parable of the Sower, which is actually about the different soils, not the seed, Jesus compared the seed that fell among the thorns with the effect that the cares, riches, and pleasures of life have upon a person (Luke 8:14); they choked the growing plant. Of the four soils, it’s the only one where external factors strangled the growing plant’s ability to grow. Jesus recognized that the cares and stresses of life inhibit our spiritual growth and development.

On another occasion, Jesus instructed his disciples not to worry about what they will eat or wear (Matt. 6:25-34), for God knows what you need. And He will take care of you. He compared those who worry about food and clothing—the cares of life—with gentiles, i.e., pagans.

Paganism, at its core, sought to manipulate the deities by appeasing them through sacrifices. If something unfortunate or catastrophic happened, you had upset the gods and needed to appease them with offerings and sacrifices. Ancient pagans often lived in fear of the world around them because the gods were a group you satisfied, but not interested in your care and welfare.

Jesus, however, instructed his followers to relax because God, their heavenly Father, cared for them. His single requirement: to seek first His kingdom by obediently submitting to His rule and reign in their lives. The care of life and welfare was His responsibility. So, don’t worry.

In the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them to pray: “Give this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). The image of daily bread recalls the provision of manna in the wilderness, which God provided for the children of Israel. The Israelites in the wilderness received only enough manna for the day; if they tried to keep any over for tomorrow, it would rot. On Friday, they collected a double portion for the Sabbath. In Deuteronomy, God tells the people that the purpose of the manna was “to try you to know what was in your heart if you would keep my statutes or not” (8:2) and so they would learn that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God” (8:3). God is the source of daily provision, and He is intimately involved in our lives to provide what we need.

We often blame the secular forces in our world for the decline of values and those who honor God, but is it possible in this crazy, stressful world of ours that the paganism of our own worry screams too loudly in the ears of those around us for them to hear the voice of Jesus? Do we demonstrate through our calm, patient, obedience our deep sense of peace because God, our Father, will take care of us? Or do we get caught up in our culture, which is predicated upon stress and worry? Jesus’ instruction to his followers: relax, God’s got you.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for Your daily provision. May I submit myself in humble obedience to you today knowing that You will take care of the things I need in my life. Amen.

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