Read Matthew 6:25-34
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
Anxiety is a serious human condition that every human being experiences in some, way, shape, form, and at differing levels throughout their lives. For some, it’s just some butterflies before a big audition or performance. For others, it is a crippling mental illness that shuts down peoples lives with a vengeance. For some, it is mere stress that comes and goes naturally on its own; for others, it is a hell they’ve been locked in for years if not their whole lives.
When it came out in 2022, I watched the movie Scream, which is the fifth installment in the Scream film franchise. For those who have never heard of or seen the films, the original was a witty horror film that was a loving tribute and satire of 1980s and 1990s slasher horror films. I recognize that is not everyone’s ball of tea, but I do find many a good moral tales and theological musings within the horror genre.
In fact, the whole premise of the Scream franchise is that there are certain rules that need to be followed in order to survive in a slasher film. First, you totally cannot have [premarital] sex. Once you do, you are as good as dead. Second, don’t ever drink or do drugs, or you are as good as dead. Don’t ever under any circumstance get over-confident and say out loud, “I’ll be right back”, otherwise you’re the next victim and your as good as dead. I would probably avoid thinking it too.
In the second film, the rules expand to Slasher sequels. First, the body count is always larger. Second, the death scenes are much more elaborate. There’s more blood and there’s more gore. Third, don’t ever assume the killer is dead. And there’s an unsaid fourth rull that carries out throughout the franchise: the orginal rules still apply…until they don’t. Fun right?
Well, after watching the latest installment, I realized that there is a common thread throughout all of these films, and in the horror genre over all. ANXIETY. Horror plays off of our own human fears and anxieties. For instance, in the Scream franchise, the anxiety of phone calls and of being stalked is what the film is using to invoke horror/terror within the audience. For some, phones are the greatest thing ever. For others, phones are hellish devices that they dread to use. It took me a long time to get over my anxiety about answering and making phone calls. I think that anxiety started in me when I was a telemarketer as a seventeen year old and they nasty, rude, and sometimes evil comments people would say to me. I have gotten better at that, but still it produces anxiety in me.
Then, add to that, the fear of someone stalking us and you’ve just taken that anxiety up another notch. When I was a young adult, I knew two people (one a minor, the other a young adult), who used pay phones to order pizza and have it delivered to an abandoned house. Many pizzerias turned them down, but one of them…the one me and my family went to as we knew the owner…didn’t realize the address was an abandoned house and accepted the order. When the delivery boy, who I was also friends with, couldn’t find the house, the owner went with him to help. They were both shot by the two mentioned above. It was a horror scene, senseless and bloody, as those two sat down to eat the pizza before leaving the scene.
So, horror films use our fears and anxieties to teach us lessons, often filled with morality and, believe it or not, theology. That is true; however, we live in a horrifying world that we have no control over whatsoever. In reality, this world doesn’t teach us anything and it is not just using our anxieties; rather, it is preying on them. The news and media, the banks and our financial situations, our broken medical system, our lack of any sort of hospitable immigration system, and a whole plethora of other things fill us with all sorts of anxiety. We don’t feel safe and we worry about everything all the time and all at once.
In our scripture passage, Jesus warns us against that. Prior to this passage Jesus revealed that one cannot serve both God and money. You’ll only ever serve one and not the other. Then he addressed the financial and economic anxieties of his time. While he does not bring in other possible anxieties, it is clear that this message applies to other circumstances as well. In verse 27, Jesus asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”, and in verses 33-34 Jesus teaches, “ Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
While the world offers us more trouble, fear and anxiety, Jesus offers us true and everlasting peace. He gets us as the recent television spots have been proclaiming to the world on major networks. Jesus. Jesus gets us. That’s not just crafty wordplay, but it is the absolute truth. We, as Christians, need to root our faith in Christ and TRUST him to provide us with all we need. If we do that, we will EXPERIENCE everlasting joy and peace.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” – Charles Spurgeon
Lord, help me overcome my anxieties so that I many walk in your footsteps once more and root my faith deeply in you. Amen.