The Rev’d Robert Warren Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus said “Don’t worry”. In fact, he said not to worry about food and drink and clothing. Then he pointed around himself to the flowers and the grass and the birds and he said “Look at these”. They are embedded in their environments and, behold, they survive and are nourished. The command not to worry about food, drink and clothing is a hard one. We require all three of these things and segments of the worlds’ population are ill-equipped in these areas. People do starve in the world. Communities are stricken by drought. People can be poorly provisioned.
We’d have been more heartened if Jesus had made a more general statement like “Don’t worry all the time” because we know – at least some of us do – that worry has a tendency to follow us around from one situation to another. We worry about real things. We worry about rubbish. We worry about things happening to us which are highly improbable but we worry about them nonetheless. Worries advance with age even if the risks diminish. If “fear” were seen as a God-given reaction to keep us away from grizzly bears, hot stove-tops, darkened streets and the justice system then we could say it had a purpose. There is a finite and, for most of us, quite manageable list of things which we should fear. Attention to that list keeps us free. It ensures our safety. Chronic worry, on the other hand, is something quite different. The list is infinite. There is no end to the things, however improbable, that somebody somewhere isn’t worrying about. Rather than keeping us free and keeping us safety it keeps us bound. It shrinks our world. But here Jesus is saying not to worry about the essentials – food, drink and clothing - which is tough. Why wouldn’t we fret? But hold on a moment. Is there a difference between getting what we need and getting what we want?
How much of something, of anything, is enough? The list of essential things which we must have is different when we are twenty than when we are sixty. It is subject to changing tastes. It differs across the world. It was different for our grandparents. There are things, on that list of things we need (or more properly “want”) which we didn’t know we needed until we saw an advertisement. Some of the things on that list aren’t even good for us. To get some of those things we will need to keep our heads down and our noses to the grindstone for the rest of our lives. Relationships will suffer. Good experiences will need to be sacrificed.
“Don’t worry”, Jesus says. Embrace the Kingdom, embrace your godly freedom, live, give and love. And you will have enough, cause enough even for thankfulness. You will have what you need. And you will be free.