Matthew 6:25-33 (Common English Bible)
Worry about necessities
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Thoughts on the passage:
In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote a book entitled, “Why We Can’t Wait.” It outlined the pressing state of African-Americans in the United States and responding to critics of the movement who felt that they were pushing too hard and too far for change. Through the lens of history we can see that clearly there was a need for change then. We can have a harder time developing a sense of urgency when it comes to our own context. When it comes to the work of the church, however, it is safe to say that we can’t wait. If we are going to be a church of life we need to start now, rather than later.
We must choose now over later because of those of us who are in the church. It is no secret that as a congregation and as a denomination we are not getting any younger. Not only that but more and more of our members are running into the challenges of aging, and more and more of our members are dying. We are reaching a critical juncture. It is hard to know exactly where the line is but there is a real concern that we will hitting a tipping point where the combined effects of aging and declining will reach a point of no return and things will get worse. We must act now rather than later because waiting will only make things worse.
We must choose now over later because of those who are not in the church. Dr. King wrote his letter because of the challenges facing his community and the urgent need for action. That need still exists today. Racism is still a problem in our country. While many of the structures of segregation and oppression have been removed, clear challenges still remain. We still cannot wait. Issues of racism and oppression are just one problem. People are hungry and need food. They are homeless and need shelter. They are hurting and need healthcare. People are scared, lonely, and afraid, and they need to know the message of love and grace from God. They need us to bring that Good News that God is with them and they need it now!
I am a “later” person. I like things to be certain, contingencies to be covered and plans to be made ahead of time. I like to wait for the perfect moment. In fencing this often causes me to be reactive rather than proactive. What I have learned, often thanks to painful losses, is that being reactive is not a good strategy, because usual by the time you are reacting it is too late. There are ways to be proactive even while playing defense. In fencing this means setting up an action so that you know what the opponent is going to do. Then you are not waiting for the perfect moment, you are creating the perfect moment.
The choice of now over later is a really a call to action. The Bible is filled with stories of people responding to the call, the passage we are looking at today does not involve a call in the same way. Instead what we give is maybe some pre-emptive action by Jesus to the excuses he knows we will put in place of such a call. Jesus tells us to look around see the ways that God is providing for plants and animals. How can we use our earthly worries as an excuse for building God’s kingdom? Usually our excuses for later are because we have things we are worried about now. Why are we worried if God is in charge? What is more important than doing God’s work?
Choosing now over later is not about having the answers. It is about trusting God to be with us as we try and find those answers. It is too easy to sit back and wait until we have it all in place. We cannot afford to do that. We need to act now for the sake of our church, we need to act now for the sake of our denomination, we need to act now for the sake of our community and we need to act now for the sake of God’s Kingdom. If we stay focused on that and start working now towards that, everything else will sort itself out.
Questions to Ponder:
What do you need to trust God to take care of instead of trying to manage yourself?
Are you someone who likes to wait for the perfect moment or do you go out and do things maybe even without thinking about it?
What work is God calling for you to do in the Kingdom?
Prayer: God of the wilderness, you often call us from places of comfort and security out into the wildness of faith. Give us the courage to step forth from our fortresses and places of safety and trust instead in you. Help us to know that through it all, in the storms and the calm, you are there with us. AMEN