This week we are having our first real weekly youth group meeting. This is a group of students who is not used to in-depth study of Scripture and they are not used to getting together weekly. I have very little idea of how many students I should expect tho show up there. I admit that I am a bit anxious that the numbers will be uncomfortably low. I am worried that my style of teaching the Bible will simply not relate with them. I am worried that the timing is all wrong (we're meeting on Sunday night, the night before they all go back to school for the Fall). I am worried that parents will not be pleased with how I do things. I am worried that I will not meet their expectations. I am worried that the whole thing will come crumbling down. I am worried, I am worried, I am worried.
"The Lord is near! Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace (the shalom) of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." _Philippians 4:5b-7
I hear those words "do not worry..." and I begin to think of how that is possible... isn't it my job to worry? Am I not expected to worry? I remember that two chapters prior to Paul's audacious plea, "do not worry about anything..." he tells us why we have the freedom not to worry:
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited [as perhaps a Roman emperor might presume], but he emptied himself [...listen to those words... do they still hold meaning to you?] taking the form of a slave." _Philippians 2:5-7b
I realize that all the pressure and anxiety that I feel is placed there not by anyone else but by myself. It has not been placed there by God because from God I have the freedom to empty myself, to become nothing because the peace of God guards my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus who also became nothing. I don't have to worry about meeting the expectations of others. I don't have to worry about succeeding. I can participate with Jesus in his freedom. I have the freedom to simply give myself to this church just as I am, though I may be nothing. "Do not worry about anything..."
So I look forward to this weekend, liberated from all the games of trying to be what I am expected to be. I am me. I am free to be me.
"Therefore God also highly exalted him and Gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." _Philippians 2:9-11
Are you still trying to meet their expectations? Do you think that God expects you to be anything more than this? Does the word grace make any sense in your workplace, at your school, in your lifestyle? Be free.... Be free... Be free... "Do not worry about anything..." Be free...