Aren't You Concerned? (Being With #5)

. 6 min read

No video from this week. Sorry.

Feb 2020, Christ Mountain Top
the Scripture, Psalm 25:11-22 (insert)
       Sung response: Gloria (8:30 only)
Mark 4.35-41 (disciples in storm to Jesus)
Luke 10.38-42 (Martha to Jesus)
Tornado, freight train, me sleeping
       “Aren’t you concerned?”
we return to our series of messages unpacking the promise of Advent and
Christmas, of Emmanuel, “God with us.” Each week we have approached the text
from the focus point of a particular question in the text. The first week, it
was the question of John the baptizer to Jesus when Jesus came for baptism: “Do
you come to me?” The question points out that Jesus chooses to identify with
outsider sinners, that he has “friends in low places.” The second week, the
questions were those to the man and woman in the garden and then to one of
their sons: “Where are you?” “Where is your brother?” These questions expose
our basic conflicts with God and with each other and call us to the practice of
reconciliation in conflict. Then we had “Where is the house you will build for
me?” This question from the prophet Isaiah points out that God’s dwelling place
is among us, that we are God’s house. And even if we are fixer-uppers, God is
not waiting to move in. Two weeks ago, we had the question, “When did we… see
you?” That story calls us to see Jesus, to meet Jesus, in the poor and
marginalized and to be with them.
       Today, we have a question that shows up several
times in the Scripture: “Aren’t you concerned?” In the storm at sea, the
disciples are afraid that they are going to die. Jesus is sleeping. “Aren’t you
concerned?” Martha is toiling away in the kitchen getting more and more
frustrated that she is getting no help. It is entirely unfair, so she dumps on Jesus,
“Aren’t you concerned?”
       The question raises our trust/mistrust
issues, our separation anxieties, our bad relationship history, our experience
with people who should care but don’t, our many fears. The question also
exposes the ways we are obsessed with ourselves and completely oblivious to people
around us, even oblivious to God with us.

the case of the disciples, they have already seen Jesus heal – persons
afflicted by unclean spirits, paralyzed persons, persons with leprosy, a person
with a withered hand. On one hand, you wonder why there wasn’t at least one of
them who said in the storm, “Cool! Now we get to see what the Teacher does
now!” But, to give them (and us) a break, this was one area in which they had
not seen Jesus’ power at work. On the other hand, after seeing Jesus so
obviously compassionate and caring, why do they assume that Jesus doesn’t care?
Just because he is sleeping?
       “You of little faith, why do you fear?” Because
I forgot who I was with. Because I asked for something and didn’t get the
answer I wanted. Unless I get my answer my way, I’m not sure I can trust you,
not sure you care about me. Over and over again, our relationships deteriorate
because we view each other as ways to get something, as persons responsible to
make us feel good. And we miss out on the simple pleasure of being with
someone else, never mind being with Jesus, being with God.
the case of Martha, does she really think Jesus doesn’t care? Or, did she fail
to stop and think, fail to consider anything other than the rolling boil of her
emotions. This just isn’t fair! I wonder what Mary did or felt. There is no
indication that she is frustrated with her sister or that she rubs in Jesus’
remark with some additional judgment, “Take that, Martha!” I wonder, instead, did
she start to get up to help Martha? Did she begin to apologize? If she did,
Jesus must have cut her off. “Only one thing is necessary. And Mary has chosen
what is better.”
       So, a woman doesn’t have to be defined by
women’s work, instead she can be known as a disciple. None of us are defined by
our work, by doing stuff. We are defined by who we are with, who we
choose to be with. Be with Jesus. And, be with each other.
In Mark’s gospel, when Jesus calls the twelve apostles, the very first item in
their job description is that they were called “to be with him” (Mark
3.14). We are defined not by our work but by those we choose to be with.
       So, the focus is not on the entertainment
but on the hospitality. Hospitality is all about being with. Entertainment
is all about doing for. When Jesus shows up at your house, you don’t
need to pull out all the stops to entertain him. “Only one thing is necessary.”
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or scrambled eggs and toast. Simple is
plenty. Be with Jesus. And, be with each other.
you concerned?” The question raises our fears and our self-obsession.
       Scripture offers us an antidote to
self-obsessive fear: the fear of the LORD. It is, admittedly, a difficult
concept. Jesus calls us his friends. Jesus teaches us to call upon God as “our
Father.” Nevertheless, a healthy fear – that is, a fear that draws us toward
someone in love rather than a fear that repels us – is described both by the
prophets and by Jesus. It is a fear that is completely consistent with a life
of being with God.
       In a time of political upheaval and
conspiracy, the prophet Isaiah declares:
12 “You
must not call conspiracy everything that this people calls conspiracy,
you must not
share its fear, and you must not be in dread.
13 You
shall regard Yahweh of hosts as holy,
he is your fear, and he is your dread. [1]
       Isaiah 8.12-13
to those uncertain about the dreadful cost of following Jesus, Jesus himself
And do not be afraid
of those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but instead be
afraid of the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows
sold for a penny? And one of them will not fall to the ground
the knowledge and consent
of your Father. 30 And even the hairs of
your head are all numbered!
31 Therefore do not be afraid; you are worth more than many
sparrows. [2]
       Matthew 10.28-31
Jesus calms the storm at sea, his disciples respond with fear. No longer afraid
of the storm, but now in fear of the Lord of the Storm, the one who can give
orders to winds and waves. It does not repel them from Jesus, but draws them
closer to him. This fear of the LORD is completely consistent with a life of being
you concerned?” The question raises our fears and our self-obsession.
       In addition to the Scriptural antidote of
the fear of the LORD, we have those jarring moments in which our obsessions are
uncomfortably revealed for what they are: our issues, not God’s. There are many
times when I’d like my issues to be God’s issues, when I pray, “Aren’t you
concerned?!” Most of the time, however, my issues are temporary, endurable, not
nearly as big a deal as I am making them out to be.
       Scott McKenzie tells a story of a moment
when he saw his issues for what they really were. He does so reflecting on the
text of Colossians 4 (in The Message):
diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to
pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even
while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be
able to make Christ plain as day to them.
Village Inn in Malawi, Africa, provided attacking wolf spiders, bats, bed bugs,
holes in the ceilings, broken bathroom fixtures, and all the cold water you
could use—free of charge. Most of us on the mission team “stayed alert with
eyes wide open,” but certainly not in gratitude. Our eyes were wide open in
worry and fear and discomfort.
       “As we gathered for breakfast, in the
midst of complaining, we heard the quiet voice of Emily, a Malawian traveling
with us, say, “I saw the face of God in my motel room.” Having never slept in a
bed before, Emily’s eyes were “wide open in gratitude.”
       “In that moment, I knew. Here was a child
of God, created in the image of God with a loving and generous spirit. With her
“eyes wide open in gratitude,” Emily made “Christ plain as day” to us. Emily’s
gratitude taught me a critical lesson. We are all born in the image of a loving
and generous God. However, we choose daily whether to live out of this loving
and generous spirit. Often, we choose to live out of a resentful and bitter
spirit instead. And in making our choice, we either make Christ plain or not.”
A Generous Life (2019) excerpt accessed 2020 Feb 11 from
Wells, The Nazareth Manifesto: Being With God.

Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Is
8:12–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Mt
10:28–31). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.