How many folks out there were born after 1958? So what do you think of the change in the Old Age Security age? If you missed the last budget the age for eligibility has changed for the Canadian Old Age Security from 65 to 67 and I would suspect that is only the beginning. And it really doesn’t affect how I was thinking about retirement because my plan has been to continue pastoring until I’m seventy. All things being equal. But for some people it is a concern, they have been anxiously awaiting the day they turned 65 and could begin drawing that enormous amount the government has been promising them.
A little history lesson here, the first public pension plan in Canada was put into place in 1927 and it basically required the federal government to share the cost of provincially run, means-tested old age benefits.
The plan as we know it was introduced in 1952 and allowed people to retire with some benefits when they turned 70. In 1965 legislation was passed that reduced the eligibility age to 65, phased in over a five year period.
We are planning on going to the SaltScapes Expo next week and if it is like the other years it will be full of different tourist destinations in the Maritimes, food exhibits, and retirement service people. Interesting.
And at first you would be tempted to think that is simply related to the demographics of those who read SaltScapes, but it’s not just the SaltScapes Expo. If you go to the boat show they are there too. Not the tourist and food exhibits but the retirement people. And if you go to the home show or you go to the RV show there they are. Walk down the mall and there they and everyone talks about their RRSP’s and when they plan to retire, the freedom 55 or 60. Angela and I are on the freedom 85 plan. Figure if we can retire at 85 and die at 90 we should be all right.
I was recently reading that it was in the 1950’s that western society achieved a standard of living that had never before been seen in history. We had come to a place where the average person was no longer living day to day or a hand to mouth existence. All of a sudden the average family had discretionary income, the opportunity to buy what to that point had been considered luxury items and to save for retirement.
Today we have stepped even beyond simply saving for retirement to the point that we are not content with being able to retire to a life of ease we want to be able to enjoy all the facets of life that escaped us during our years of employment.
And it is a concern for folks that they may not be able to have that lifestyle when they eventually retire. And certainly I have seen examples in the past of people who sacrificed things in order to have lots in place for tomorrow only to have tomorrow arrive without them.
We want to go from being Yuppies to being WOOFs (Well Off Older Folks). And so there is a whole new industry that has sprung up so that we can invest now for that day down the road when we no longer have to work, whether that day comes when we are 55, 65 or 85.
If you live in Canada when you retire you may have to worry about whether you can have full cable or basic cable, you might worry about whether you will be able to travel, you may have to worry about whether you live in a nice neighborhood or a sketchy neighbourhood, you might even have to worry about whether you buy Kraft dinner or the no name mac and cheese but you will not starve to death or have to go naked.
I have delivered groceries to people who told me that their children had nothing to eat and when I got there they were watching cable and the apartment smelled of cigarette smoke, indicating that there were apparently choices that had already been made that precluded buying food, but that’s not the same as not having food to eat.
If tomorrow Angela and I were unable to work, we would eventually have to sell our home and sell our cars, we might lose everything we own. We might lose our lifestyle but in Canada in 2012 we would not lose our lives.
For the vast majority of those of us who live in Canada today the concept of worrying about what we will eat or what we will wear is radically different then it was when these words were spoken. Today we worry about what our choices will be, will I have chicken or will I have beef? Will I wear the red top or will I wear the blue top? Which pair of shoes will I wear today? Will it be Tims or McDonalds for lunch.
Today those are frivolous choices; 2000 years ago they were life themselves. When Jesus said Luke 12:22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.” He was talking to people who sometimes did not have enough food to eat and who only had a very basic wardrobe.
Let’s put this passage into context. The crowds coming to hear Jesus preach have grown from tens of people to hundreds of people and now we are told in Luke 12 thousands of people have gathered to hear the words of Jesus. And it is as he is teaching a group of thousands we are told in Luke 12:13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” And Jesus makes a turn in his teaching and starts to talk about greed and makes the statement Luke 12:15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” And then he tells them a story. It is sometimes referred to as “The Parable of the Rich Fool” you may remember I referenced some of it last week. This man had so much that he didn’t know what to do with it, he has to tear down his barns to build even bigger barns to hold all that he had.
Jesus was drawing a picture of a man who we rich beyond the average person’s imagination? If you showed our homes and cars and lifestyle to the majority of the world we would be that man. Our RRSP’s and mutual funds are simply bigger barns.
Remember that this story was told in a society where people lived from day to day. That was the nature of the beast, it was a subsistence economy, you grew it, caught it or picked it and that was what you had. Or you made it and sold it to buy something that you needed for today, and that is how many people still live around the world.
And so I’m sure that many of them were feeling a little smug when they heard Jesus say: Luke 12:21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
“Not a problem Jesus, we have that covered you don’t have to worry about that. We promise we will not store up earthly wealth.” Seriously, they had no barns that were bursting at the seams; their daily concerns had more to do with how to find food and clothing then what to do with all the extras. His apostles had given up everything to follow him, they had left behind their professions and their possessions, and then we read in Luke 12:22 Then, turning to his disciples, (it was almost as if he knew what they were thinking) Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.” He was telling them, you can be caught up in a little amount of stuff as well as lots of stuff.
This was not a once off statement, did you catch what he said “That is why I tell you. . .” this was an ongoing discussion. Perhaps at the end of the day as Christ and the twelve sat around the fire the discussion would turn to what was on the menu for the next day, where they were going to come up with enough food for the twelve of them. It had to be a concern, especially for whoever was in charge of making dinner.
Can you imagine the food they must have gone through when they were travelling around the countryside? Everyday twelve men would eat breakfast and then they would eat lunch and pretty soon it was supper time and they would have to eat again. My father used to tell the story about an incident that happened with his father during the depression, my Grandfather was working down on one of the wharfs on Grand Manan and one of the other men said “It looks like it’s lunch time” to which my Grand Father replied “It might be lunch time at your house but at our house it’s just twelve o’clock.” So maybe the apostles didn’t have lunch time they just had noon time. But even if they skipped lunch it was still 24 meals a day, that had to come from somewhere. And then there was the clothing issue, “Peter is really rough on his robe, and it’s starting to wear in the back, and if he doesn’t do something soon we are going to be seeing more of Peter than we want to. And all this walking is wearing out our sandals, does anyone know where we can buy a dozen pair of sandals? Cheap?”
This entire section is directed at the committed, to people who had already given up a lot to follow Christ and now he is challenging them to take one more step of faith. Understand they were a lot further down the path then most of us are. They had already given up more than any one of us has given up. Now he was telling them to not even worry about the basics about staying alive.
First Jesus Told them: Do Not Worry! The word “Worry” is mentioned 34 times in the Bible and in 26 of those instances it is prefaced by the words “Do Not” and another five times we are asked the question “Why worry?” And I would say that the command to “Not Worry” is a whole lot easier said than done. How often have you been told “Oh don’t worry about that.” Or how often has someone asked you “Why are you worrying about that?”
Those of us who don’t worry much can’t understand those who do worry. “What good does it do?” we ask. And those who do worry can’t understand those of us who don’t worry. “Don’t you care?” they ask. So I’m not sure that the command “not to worry” is real helpful in itself. But maybe this will help. (Bob Newhart Video Stop It)
So roughly translated Jesus was saying “Stop it”. And I’m not sure that the simple command to not worry by itself is overly helpful, so Jesus goes on to add to the command.
And so Then He Asks Them: Why Worry? We all know that worry doesn’t accomplish anything, it is different from trying to find a solution. With worry we don’t say “How can we solve this?” It jumps right to worst case scenario.
Realistically we need to be able to be able to look at what life might have in store for us, but we can’t stop at that point and not move on. Every decision we make in life might have negative consequences, Jesus himself challenges people to count the cost before they move on, but to move on.
Trust me when we were in the planning stages of this building there were nights that I woke up in the middle of the night and wondered how were we going to make that $9,000.00 a month mortgage payment, that was more over $2,000.00 than our monthly income, and what would happen if nobody came. And then I would think: it’s a going to be a great building in a great location, and if worse comes to worse than we will sell it and move on and then I would go back to sleep. Amelia Earhart said “Of course I realized there was a measure of danger. Obviously I faced the possibility of not returning when I first considered going. Once faced and settled there really wasn’t any good reason to refer to it again.”
Earhart realized that either she would make it home safe and sound or she wouldn’t and she determined that it wouldn’t be a point of worry. I’m sure she did everything in her power to increase the odds in her favour, but she knew that worrying wouldn’t change the outcome.
At some point we need to realize that whatever it is in our lives that we are worried about, it will either happen or it won’t, and all of our worry won’t make one iota of a difference.
And so Jesus asks his disciples Luke 12:25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 60 seconds that’s all, will worry add even 60 seconds to your life? Of course not. If anything worry will subtract time from our lives. In the physical sense health professionals warn us about worry and what it does to our blood pressure, and how it creates ulcers and gives us head-aches and stress. But more than that it robs us of time we could be spending doing other things, productive things.
Of course Jesus wasn’t expecting an answer, it was simply a rhetorical question so he warns them. Luke 12:26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
In the parable of the sower Jesus talks about good seed that was sown and took root and began to grow but was soon overtaken by the thorns. And then he told them the meaning of the parable Luke 8:14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
In his book “Crazy Love” pastor Francis Chan challenges us with this question “Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money and thought on the things of this world?”
What is it that steals your attention away from God?
It was French playwright Jean Anouilh who said “We poison our lives with fear of burglary and shipwreck, and the house is never burgled, and the ship never goes down.” And Winston Churchill who said “When I look back on all the worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.”
Here is a reality check: your wishing won’t make it happen and your worry won’t keep it from happening.
So what is the opposite of worry? Trust. Finally He Challenges Them: Learn to Trust!
We worry about things when we don’t trust them. Whatever that level of mistrust is or why we don’t trust. Worry is a lack of trust. People worry about flying because they don’t trust airplanes, people worry about being on the water when they don’t trust boats, people will often worry about what their kids are up to because they don’t trust their kids.
And sometimes that is warranted, at some time perhaps we were let down or we know someone who was let or we read about someone who was let down. But sometimes it is simply us worrying. What was it the psychologist asked in the video “Have you ever been buried alive in a box? Do you know anyone who has been buried alive in a box?’’
Jesus tells the disciples: “Look around, do the birds worry? Yet God feeds them.” Little side note here, the birds don’t worry but the birds do work, God doesn’t just drop the worms in their nest. “Look at the wild flowers” Jesus suggests “Even Solomon, the richest king in our history didn’t dress like them”
If you can imagine the worst case scenario why not flip it and imagine the best thing that could happen. Be like the guy who fell off the ten story building and when he went by the third floor someone heard him say “So far, so good.”
Jesus was asking the disciples “Has it worked out so far? Have we starved to death or had to run around naked?” I mentioned earlier that the word worry was used 34 times in the Old and New Testament, the word trust is used in 134 times.
The question is this: Can you trust God? Can you trust him to provide for you and to allow you to provide for his church?
Two things to finish with this morning, it was Mitzi Chandler who said “Worry is as useless as a handle on a snowball.” I have no idea what that means but it sounds great.
And the most important thing this morning is the last words of our scripture passage and they are the words of Jesus in Luke 12:32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Can you believe that today, are you able to trust the one who holds the universe in the palm of his hand?