Let’s Be the Good News People, Part 2:
One Way to Overcome Worry
January 29, 2006
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Jesus Begins His Work
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! The title of our message this morning is “Let’s Be the Good News People, Part 2”, and the subtitle is “One Way to Overcome Worry.”
I’m still riding the crest of the scripture we began to explore last week. What dynamite scripture! We were talking about the verse from Mark where we’re told, “Since John was in prison, Jesus went about Galilee, preaching the good news.” That’s what he did. St. Mark told us that was Jesus’s job, his calling, his ministry, to preach the good news – not the bad news, not the okay news, but the good news.
What’s the good news? We could put it a lot of different ways. We could put it in long, theological terms. But let me give you the simplest way I know of expressing the good news. The good news is this: God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life.
What if a neighbor asks, “What do they talk about at your church?” Well, the answer is that we talk about the good news that God loves you. God is, God cares, and God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. There’s much more in store for you than has ever been tapped.
My mom used to say, especially when times were rough, “Oh, Anthony, God has so much more than he’s already given away. Don’t go to Niagara Falls with a tin cup.” I love that.
God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. That is the message that Jesus shared with the folks back then, and that’s the message that draws us here today, and that’s why we follow that wonderful Savior. Jesus was all about good news. He made it the focus of His life, to exchange the world’s bad news for God’s good news.
Think of an hour glass, won’t you? If all the world’s bad news were in the top, Jesus was that middle point of the hour glass. His intention was to take all the world’s bad news and transform it with God’s good news. His intention was so strong that He said, “I’ll take it all on myself. I’ll pay the whole debt. I’ll take care of the whole burden.” That was His intention in going to the cross, that the entire world’s bad news, the sorrow and the tears, the suffering and the sin, might be transformed through Him into the new kingdom of God. That, my friend, is a Savior. Amen? Amen!
We’ve got a lot of good teachers. We’ve got a lot of good people to read. We’ve got a lot of philosophers with good ideas. They can help us all. But there is only one Savior that I want to follow. There is only one person I know of that would take all the world’s bad news on Himself and transform it to God’s good. That’s the Savior I want to follow. How about you? Amen? Amen! Absolutely.
He calls us to be disciples. God calls us to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. If we’re going to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be the good news people. There needs to be something different, something holy, about us. Don’t get me wrong – by holy, I don’t mean walking around in pious prayer all the time. By holy, I mean different, different for God. There’s something different about you, something different about me, hopefully, because we are people of God. And one of those things is being a good news person, being a positive person.
So, I’d like to talk with you today about one aspect of that. If there’s one thing that’s going to get in the way of our being good news people, it’s that bothersome little word, worry. Now, probably most of you don’t have any worries, but maybe there are one or two people here who worry about things. I’d like to talk with you about that today, so that you can let more of God’s light into your life and be more of a good news person.
I’d like to share with you, very simply, one idea. It is an idea I heard from a speaker named Ed Foreman. If you ever have a chance to listen to this man or read his work, he is dynamite. He gave a definition of worry that is the best I’ve ever heard. It’s permanently engraved in my mind. Once I give you this definition of worry, I’d like you to take it with you, and when you are tempted to worry, to apply it to your life and see if that doesn’t help you turn things around.
Now, I am not minimizing your troubles and your concerns for one instant. I know that you carry issues of healing and health. I know you carry big issues for loved ones. I know you have real concerns in your world, and I’m not minimizing anything. But I am saying that there is something called worry that we can do something about. So, here it is, the best definition of worry I have ever heard:
“Worry is nothing more and nothing less than the total misuse of the imagination.”
Now, when is your favorite worry time? Generally, mine tends to be first thing in the morning. I tell you, I have to use a lot of spiritual power that first thing in the morning. I don’t know why, but when I first get up, bang! bang! bang! I’m thinking all these thoughts about things I can worry about.
But what I’m trying to do is apply this definition to those circumstances. Worry keeps me from being a good news person. I say to myself, “Am I abusing my God-given imagination?” Is that what happens when we worry? We can be “what-if” people. What if this? What if that? What if this goes wrong?
I’m not saying don’t plan. I’m not saying don’t make contingencies. We need to do that. But let’s do something constructive; let’s plan for those contingencies. When we worry, though, are we really using our imaginations well? God gave us wonderful imaginations. He gave us the power to dream big dreams. The new sanctuary chairs wouldn’t be here if someone didn’t have a dream and a vision. The church wouldn’t be here if someone didn’t have a dream and a vision. The beautiful art of the world wouldn’t be here without imagination. Music wouldn’t be created without imagination. These are wonderful things; they’re a great gift of God.
But, when we begin to imagine only negative possibilities and we dwell on those, it stifles everything else. It keeps us from being the good news people.
Did Jesus have stuff to worry about? You bet He did! How long was His ministry? Three years, not very long. How did it end? On the cross. Friday was here, but Sunday was coming. And yet, He forged forward with the best good news in the entire world. And so can you. So can I. We can set our imaginations free to what God called it to be.
When you are confronted by worry thoughts (and you know the difference between real concerns and worry thoughts), when your mind is tempted to be on that gerbil wheel of worry, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my imagination, or does God have greater things in store for me?” You see, the good news is that God loves you and has a plan for your life, but how are you going to know about His great plans if your mind is cluttered with all that worry?
Oh, my dear friends, I care about all the things that you are concerned about, and I bless you. but I’m saying this: in terms of those things, let God breeze through your spirit and give you the wherewithal and the imagination to find ways to solve them, to find ways to be helpful, to allow Him to heal you and to allow Him to let you know how valuable you are in the situation – your prayers, your love, your caring for those near you. Allow your imagination to be open to those possibilities.
I saw a remarkable book in the bookstore not long ago. The cover was just gorgeous, covered with flowers. The book contained interior pictures of the house that belongs to Elton John. Now, you know who Elton John is and how he dresses, with the rhinestone outfits and the hats. What kind of house does he live in? I tell you, his house is beautiful. It’s an English country manor. Every room in the house is finished in florals in beautiful colors. Each room has a color and a theme, so that everywhere he turns in his house he is surrounded by the delight and the joy and the beauty of the colors of flowers. Some of the rooms are yellow; some are rose-red. Some of the rooms are tapestry green. It was an amazing book.
What is the interior of your imagination like? You can decorate your own walls. What color is the wallpaper? What pictures are on the wall? Are they scary or are they hopeful? Are there windows that look out to the world? Are there reflections that let you know how wonderful you are in God’s eyes, that you are a beloved child of God? You can change the wallpaper in the room of your imagination. You can use your imagination to worry you or to let God bless you. Remember friends, the opposite of worry is confidence. The opposite of fear is faith. Let the power of the Holy Spirit breeze through your life and help you change the walls of that interior room of yours, so that blessings may come your way. You will be blessed. Those around you will be blessed. And God will be able to bless you mightily.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski