Be Freed From the Cares of the World

Be Freed From the Cares of the World

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you
from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sisters and brothers
in Christ, the text comes from the Gospel reading.

“Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful for he
had great possessions,” and all of you, in hearing that Gospel proclaimed, the
obvious is “possessions.” But the mere concern for possessions has at its root
the care and concerns of this world, which manifests itself in this man’s life
as possessions, but how does it manifest itself in your life? Because we all
have our peccadilloes, those things that are very unique to each one of us that
are our Achilles’ heel, and for each one of us, it’s different. For me, it is
one thing; for you, it is another totally different thing. For you, you don’t
struggle in this area in letting go, trusting in God, but for this other
individual, they do. But regardless of what it is, we do all struggle, for we
all are still sinners living as a redeemed sinner in this world.

It’s very unique at the beginning of the Gospel reading that
the writer chooses, by God’s inspiration obviously, to note that Jesus was
setting out on a journey. The church has been on a journey. You are on a
journey. This world is not our home. Heaven is our home, and from the moment of
our birth until the day of our death, we are on a journey. But we are not
without harassment. We are not without our sinful flesh that wishes to become
very comfortable in this world, and there are all manners and forms of becoming
comfortable in this world and not willing to be invited to follow Him who asks
with such love in His eyes toward such broken people as we.

When the rich man comes to Jesus on his journey, which is
what the church is and all who come to find out about our Lord ask the same
question as we who follow our Lord on our journey.
“What must I do, Lord? Give me guidance for my life.” The sad thing, it’s not
just the people outside the church that ask such questions. It is we who are of
the church in this journey through this wilderness to our promised land that
ask the same exact questions, wanting to make sure that we are all busy with
the things of the Lord. And isn’t it interesting how God has to pull the rug
out from underneath us to get us to see the things that we should be paying
attention to? Left to our own blindness, we’ll not see those things. Hence, why
I said it is very unique to each one of us those things, those exhortations
that God is saying to you, “Go and sell everything you have and follow me.”

Again, it’s not about your possessions. Let it not be so
narrowly interpreted, though I bet all of us do have things that we would not
wish to part with and aren’t willing to risk, but there are many things about
which we are concerned. Many are not retiring earlier because they lost all
the money in the downturn of the market. Many are very nervous about the huge
tax increase that will occur when and if the healthcare bill gets passed in
congress. All kinds of concerns haunt you and me, whether we’re sitting over a
cup of coffee in the morning or getting ready to go to bed at night, reading a
book to try to get our mind off of those things about which we are concerned.
They run from our children to our grandchildren to our spouse to family
members. How then are we to get rid of those things and sell them and follow

That’s why it’s not about selling something. It’s about
repenting. There is a great need for you and for me to repent, for there are
many things in your life, as there are in mine, that continually claw at us and
nip at our heels, never letting us have a moment’s rest by God’s grace, really,
because it reminds us of how much we do need our Lord in this journey that God
is taking us down to our home in Heaven. And in this traveling, this trip,
there are many things along the way, like in the epistle reading were made
mention of by the writer of the Hebrews, were the people of Israel for they saw
all those wondrous signs by God, and, yet, they were the same people who got
tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and offered
sacrifices to the golden calf. They were the same people who saw the miracles
of being fed and yet grew tired and complained of such food freely given to them.
We are like they in this wilderness journeying where, every time we gather
together as the body of Christ, we are fed; we are nourished with food that we
do not have to go out and get, which feeds our souls. A miracle is happening,
and yet we are the same body of Christ that leaves this place with fears and
concerns, with cares, and we can say to God, “God, we’re doing all the things
right that you’ve given us to do. What must we do?” He reminds this young man
very clearly, and the things about which He reminded him were things that
applied to all people. Those Ten Commandments are all about our relationship to
God and to one another, especially within the body of Christ here at St. Paul.
We are given enough there to keep us busy, but not all of us desire to be kept
busy by our Lord.

Before we begin to think in our minds like this young man,
we’ve completed all those things and we’re busy enough, that’s when Jesus still
looks at you and me with love in His eyes. Not like your mother and father
sometimes did when they were disappointed in you and their look cut you to the
heart. No, not like that. Not like you and I looked at our own children with
such a face. No, not like that either, but like only a loving Father can look
at us, knowing full well that we haven’t been used to the extent that our Lord
wishes to use us, does He look at us and still love us, knowing full well there
is still a great deal more He wishes to do with us. So, in spite of our
self-righteousness of saying that we have done all that we can do, for that
rich man He points to his Achilles’ heel. To what does He point to you? That’s
really the question that you and I have to leave this morning with in our mind,
because for each one of us it’s different. For you, it is something totally different
than me, but yet I know the very thing that causes you fear to let go of, to
give unto God, to step out in faith is the very same kind of a thing that
causes me that same fear. It’s common to us all because sin is common to us

“Repent,” is really what He is saying. Repent of the things
that cause us to get into fear, that cause us to speak when we should not speak
such words of hurt, that cause us to distance ourselves from something of which
we think not to be worthy of our involvement, to seek only those things that
bring glory to us and to our person rather than forcing us to roll up our
sleeves and work. It’s not always easy to be involved in the body of Christ,
because whenever we are involved in the body of Christ, there is pain because
we don’t see things eye to eye. We don’t always handle things the way that the
other thinks we ought, and it’s difficult. And yet God asks us to repent, but
He looks at us with love, not with the disappointing downward gaze that we have
given to one another and that were given to us, whether by a parent, whether by
a friend, whether by a spouse. He doesn’t give us such a tsk, tsk look. That
flows from sin. He gives us a look of love, invites us to come and follow Him,
but he does not invite us bereft of any help. He invites us to be fed in this
journey upon which He travels with us, to yield those things of which we are
very hesitant and not willing because of fears. That’s why that man went away
disheartened, because he couldn’t repent. At least, he thought he couldn’t
repent. But look back in your life briefly. You can think of a situation or an
opportunity that God used you whether you went willingly or not, and primarily
the times when you didn’t go willingly down the path that He took you. And
having gone down that path unwillingly, in fact kicking and screaming just like
I have done, did you not finish the path with Him pulling you along, realizing,
“I can with His strength and power.”

What hesitates us now? What hinders you and me now? And what
is it that He’s pulling us down? Only you know. I know the path that He’s
pulling me down, and it’s hard at times, as I’m sure it’s hard for you. But He
looks at you with love, not with scorn. He looks at you with great compassion,
not with a turned shoulder, and He looks at you with such love and compassion
and invites you again, “Come follow me.”

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.