How anxious are you? How much worry is in the people you talk to? We all talk to people every week. We get to hear great things that are happening, and we hear about some really hard things that are going on in people’s lives. As I talk to people outside of church, in church, and ministry leaders, one of the things I hear a lot of is anxiety and worry. I am no stranger to these feelings, either.
Early in His ministry, Jesus was pushed to the edge of a cliff – and the people were intending to push Him off to His death. Oh yeah, this was His own hometown, Nazareth (Luke 4:29-30). Ouch. How did Jesus deal with this sort of rejection? How did He have security when His own family questioned Him, the religious leaders wanted to kill Him, the crowd misunderstood Him, and His own disciples were confused by Him? How did He not just run off and say, “Forget all you fools!” I know I would have been tempted.
Jesus rooted His security in His relationship with the Father. He was praying all the time. At His baptism the Father said, “You are my Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:21-22). The Father was pleased – Jesus wasn’t seeking to please others. There is a huge lesson in that. If we rest in His love and approval we don’t need to seek it from others. We can give up the anxiety and worry about people liking us. And yes – be honest – we all want people to like us.
Jesus was tempted by Satan right after this. Each time Satan went back to Jesus’ identity and security, “IF you are the Son of God…” (Luke 4:1ff). Each time Jesus chose to live in God’s power, not the way of the world – not wowing with wonders but teaching the Kingdom, not bribing with food but inviting to true relationship, not compromising in worshiping Satan but accepting the hard mission of the Father. This is how Jesus lived His ministry – it was harder, but it brings security. If we live in His power we don’t have to be afraid of the future. When I follow God, I trust where He is leading, even when things get hard (and they will). When I am trying to control (a big issue) then more and more fear grows in my life.
Our security in Christ can change the anxiety and fear we have. This does not mean troubles won’t come. If we follow Him, we can expect resistance. Jesus was almost pushed off a cliff by His hometown. If we don’t live for the approval of others, they may not like that. If we don’t worry about the future, people may not like that. If we pray through the pain instead of hurting others, people won’t understand. Expect resistance and confusion, but pass on the way of hope and life in Jesus.
Anxiety and worry are a part of our lives, and part of the lives of others. They are in most of our conversations. The solution is not to say, “Don’t worry!” That only makes me worry more as I beat myself up for worrying! The solution is found in accepting the love of Jesus – He is PLEASED with YOU. Accept that. He is all you need. As His love soaks in it will drive out fear, including anxiety and worry. Life will be hard, but He will never let you go.