We have probably all heard the phrase “rat race” before. Most of us, I’m sure, understand that idea of feverishly, tirelessly chasing after that ideal life full of wealth or power of maybe just comfort. Even if we have managed to avoid it in our own lives, we have seen its effects on people around us or in the culture at large. The question we often ask is “why.” Why chase after those things? Why devote so much energy to gaining what we can’t keep at the end of our lives? I firmly believe the “rat race” often boils down to fear. Maybe a fear of the legacy you will leave behind. Maybe it’s a fear of not being seen as someone of value. I’m am sure there are many fears at play. I am also sure that in those cases our fears are sorely misplaced.
The gospel writer Luke shares with us one of Jesus’ sermons where he gives us a clear picture of where our fear ought to be placed. Our fear should not be in any person or place or thing of this world. At the end of the day, what power do they have except that which is temporary or borrowed? They may hurt or even destroy my physical body, but that is the limit of their abilities. But God controls all things. His power is complete. Total. All-encompassing. He sees what is public and private and he will sit in judgment over body and heart and soul. And Jesus could have stopped here. The sermon could have ended at verse five ‘Yes, I tell you, fear Him!’ But Jesus turns it on its head.
There in verse seven, after giving us all the reason in the world to truly fear God and his judgment, he says this, “Fear not.” How can Jesus put these two sentences in the same sermon, much less the same paragraph? Because God, being the good father that he is, has the authority to judge, the power to carry out his judgment and the promise that he will do so, but he also loves us with such a deep love that when we experience it, even when we wrong him, we long to run to him. Jesus reminds us that he values us more than all of creation, more than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. And if he protects and provides for them as he does, how much more will he do the same for those of us that call out to him?
Friend, my prayer is that today you rest in the promises of God, that he judges rightly and justly but loves fiercely those who call out to him and acknowledge him before the world.