According to yet another false prophet, the world was supposed to end yesterday. It didn’t. Here we still are. Our Lord didn’t return. No one knows the day or hour. Of course, the false prophet will most likely come back in a few months with some new date – Oh, I made a mistake in my calculations. Now I’ve got it right… And, people will believe him again, because it’s easier to believe a lie than the truth. We don’t know when our Lord returns. He doesn’t want us to go into the desert, stand on top of a mountain, and wait for the last trumpet. That’s not seeking after the kingdom of God. When Jesus says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, he doesn’t mean go into a secret place, and never come back out. He means, we are to love and trust the Lord God, and we are to love and serve our neighbor. That is the work God gives us to do in this world.
He gives it according to the various stations or callings we have in life. You can see a list of them at the back of the small catechism. The table of duties has responsibilities for Pastors, hearers, Civil government, citizens, husbands, wives, parents, children, workers of all kinds, employers, youth, widows, and everyone. Those are the stations or callings in life that God places us into.
We take care of family by having a job, whether it be supporting a spouse, or raising children, or taking care of an aging parent. So, earning money is a part of fulfilling our callings. And, we serve our neighbor in those jobs – changing oil so their car works, providing electricity for their home, teaching their children, and so on. For children, they learn in school, obey parents, and show love to brothers and sisters.
The problem is, that the kingdom of God is too simple, too mundane for us. We want something impressive. The Lord is returning on such and such a day! Go out to the wilderness and wait! Do this or that great thing. Go to darkest Peru and spread the Gospel among those who have never heard! Mission trips, and meetings about the church, positions of honor and authority. Surely those things are really seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Surely the kingdom of God and his righteousness is not in painting houses, or cleaning gutters or taking the trash out, or doing the last six problems on the math homework. Be done with those things! Run to the wilderness! Stand in a white robe and chant the secret words to make Jesus re-appear! That sounds like kingdom of God stuff. “We are out of ketchup and the milk spoiled” can not possibly be kingdom of God language. But if that’s what is needed to feed family, to eat your meal so you can show love to your neighbor, then that is exactly the kingdom of God language we should revel in.
We are called by God – according to our Baptism (And that’s obvious kingdom of God language) according to baptism we are to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. God even sends the Spirit through Baptism to give us the faith so that we can fear love and trust in him. And we are called to show love to our neighbor. That’s what we pray for during the post-communion collect (more kingdom of God language) “Grant that we would grow in faith toward you and fervent love toward one another” That’s the task of the Christian. Not driving to remote locations to watch for signs of the four horsemen. But putting band-aids on hurt fingers, and finding the lost teddy bear so they can go to sleep, and driving someone to the doctor for their appointment, and checking on them to make sure they are ok. The greatest in the kingdom is the one who attends to his calling in faith and love. We don’t need to worry about when he will return – or for that matter, when he will call us to himself – because we know we are redeemed by Jesus, and we know that he is our good shepherd who gave his life for the sheep.
That’s why Jesus even says, “Do not worry! Do not be anxious! Tomorrow will take care of itself.” We aren’t to worry about when he will return. So when you see a report that says “Jesus will return on this date!” you know it’s a fraud. He told us that even the Son of Man doesn’t know the day or hour set by the heavenly Father. It isn’t a concern of ours. Our concern is just helping our neighbor – whether it be driving her somewhere, or lending him a tool, or providing a shoulder to cry on and a sympathetic ear. That’s our task. Fulfilling the ten commandments. They are the work of the kingdom in this world. God doesn’t need our help – there’s nothing we can give or offer to him that he hasn’t already given to us. So he sends us neighbors who need help. That way we can show the love of Christ to others.
And we don’t need to worry about God providing for us. He promises to do that. We don’t need to get caught up in the wars and rumors of wars – and there are a lot of them out there – we don’t need to worry about the economy or this or that law, or what this group is doing to that group. Jesus tells us – God has a handle on it. He will take care of us.
In the Old Testament we heard about Elijah – he borrowed the last bit of flour and oil from the widow. And yet for three years there was a last little bit of flour and oil. Three years, with just enough food for today, and then we die. That’s learning to trust in God. He will take care of us. We don’t need to worry.
As Saint Paul says, ” He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…” We don’t need to worry about what will come – we trust that God will take care of us. That doesn’t mean we just live recklessly. That’s not what he says to do. Rather, we live sober, upright lives according to God’s Word. We hear the word and receive the forgiveness of sins in the church, and we live lives, forgiven and forgiving. That is, we receive forgiveness for Jesus sake because of his sacrifice. And then we show love and forgiveness to others.
That’s the thing – Jesus already paid the penalty – all of the penalty – for your sin. There is nothing you need to do, nothing you can do, to earn the forgiveness of sins. Jesus paid it all on the cross by his innocent suffering and death. And now you are redeemed and forgiven for his sake. The gift is received by faith in the promise. And the Spirit is the one who works the faith to receive the promise and believe and so be forgiven your sins.
And now that you have been forgiven, there is no need to get caught up in the world’s games – power, wealth, worry about what will come. Yes, worry is a sin. It means we are not trusting that God will provide for us. And that’s what the first commandment requires – that we fear, love, and TRUST in God above all things. And so, we repent of our sin of worry, receive the forgiveness of sins for it in Jesus name, and live quiet and peaceably lives, godly in every way.
Grant this Lord, unto us all.