The lie we all believe.

Homily 505 – 3 APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 3, 2022
Epistle:  (88) Romans 5: 1-10
Gospel:  (18) Matthew 6:22-33

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Anxiety seems to be the prevalent state of humanity today.  We worry – a lot – about everything.  Maybe you don’t – thank God – but I do, may God forgive me.  And I worry because I’m not convinced God loves me.  It is truly that simple.

The world has told me, over and over and over, that the only person who cares about me is me.  Gotta look out for yourself – self-sufficiency is the hallmark of America.  If you find yourself in a bad way, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, right?  Look out for number one!

Combine that with all the focus on caring for yourself first, and nobody is going to take care of you like you will, and on considering the future in everything we do, and perhaps we’ll be excused for worrying.

It’s almost like the world is setting us up.  Every message we hear – television, radio, internet, streaming, whatever the method – breeds jealousy and covetousness.  We are told, over and over, quite literally constantly, we need this or we must have that or our life won’t be complete without this other thing.

But living paycheck to paycheck, we’re told, isn’t healthy for us.  We need savings to rely on.  Most financial sites say to have a year of living expenses in savings.  I can tell you in my case, that isn’t happening.  And because it isn’t happening, I get stressed.

You need savings in order to retire comfortably, we are told.  Never mind that living paycheck to paycheck where expenses go up and our checks don’t is never a recipe for financial savings.

And then, and then, we’re told, don’t stress about it.  That is rich, isn’t it?  Create all this stress about stuff – then tell us not to be stressed.  Oh, and by the way, if you are stressed, for a very reasonable price from money you don’t have, we can help you to get unstressed.

So that being unstressed, you can then become stressed again.  It is the definition of a viscous cycle.  We’ll start a fire, then put the fire down – not out, only under control – then the firefighting backs away and lets it blaze again.

That makes sense right?  That we should be rescued like Jonah from the whale only to climb back in at our first opportunity?

That is the insanity of the world we live in.  That is the lie of the world we live in.  The lie that comes from the father of lies.

Maybe the biggest lie is that we don’t have an alternative.  We’re stuck here – imprisoned here.  That is also a lie.

Brothers and sisters, we are not prisoners here.  We are free.  We have been emancipated from our slavery – and yet we return to our worldly slavemasters over and over and over.  And we have been brainwashed to think that in doing so, we’re doing the right thing.  We must be productive members of society.

Productivity is the idol of our society.  It is the ultimate arbiter of everything – productivity, typically exploitative of others, making the rich richer and the poor living off the scraps from the tables of the rich.

I used to live in a company town.  Basically the whole population worked for one company.  I heard often how phenomenal the retirement plan was for this company.

Problem was – this company dealt with extremely toxic chemicals, and if you were lucky, you lived to draw a year, perhaps two, on your retirement.  The average worker never reached retirement at all.  What benefit did they get?

I’m reminded of the story of the executive who was vacationing in Mexico and saw a fisherman, just before lunch strumming on a guitar in the shade.  The executive asked the man why he wasn’t fishing.

The man responded “I’ve caught enough fish today.”  “What about the remainder of the day?” the executive asked.  Well, I play guitar, take a siesta with my wife, play with my kids, drink with my buddies.

That wasn’t the right answer for the executive.  No, he said, you should fish more and buy large boats, a fleet, and in 20 or 30 years, you will be rich beyond your dreams.

The fisherman asked, what then?

Then, said the executive, you can retire!  You’ll not have to work ever again!  Then, you can play guitar, siesta with your wife, and drink with your buddies.

The story illustrates for us the absolute insanity of the world’s system in which we reside.  Yet, we accept that insanity as truth and reasonable and sane.

Our reality as Christians can be different.  It should be different.  We should understand that God first and foremost loves us and does not expect us to fend for ourselves.  That relic of protestant puritan belief is just a lie.

Christ tells us, the one we worry about is the one we serve.  If we worry about finances or the necessities of life, then we serve mammon, and we are unfaithful to God.  We are cheating on God.  Like a spouse cheating on a marriage partner.

Here is our reality:  We need to absolutely ignore the world.  We need to be like children, knowing that our Father will provide a way for us.  Our job is not to seek abundance – for there is only lies and stress and ultimately death in seeking abundance.

Our job is to seek righteousness.  Our role is to seek God.  That is all – that is the single reason for our existence.  By seeking God, and ignoring everything else, we find truth, we find joy, and we find contentment.

We can be as children, who focus on what they need to focus on, and don’t concern themselves with how their father will provide for them.  And they are happy with what they have.

And in seeking God, beloved, we find thankfulness.  We can offer thanks knowing that it was God who brought to us the food and clothing and shelter we need.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.