Dear Christ Church Family,
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus calls us all to become Seekers; a people who can let go of worry, because they seek to put God first in life. If we have ever needed to hear how to let go of worry, this is the time for this word from Jesus.
Thursday, May 14, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
PM Psalm 74
Matthew 6:33: Words to live by. Every now and then, a single verse comes along that we can build our life around. Matthew 6:33 is one of those. Here is a one-verse, life-organizing principle, that Jesus gives us in our Gospel lesson today. The passage in which we find this verse starts with Jesus saying, “Don’t worry!” Then he proceeds to bring up several of the things over which we constantly worry: clothing, food, and drink. Then he ends the passage by saying again, “Don’t worry!”
Really, Jesus is just saying “for instance” here with this brief list. If he had chosen to, he could have kept going and added personal relationships, health, housing, and employment. Then he could have called upon those listening to throw in whatever else was on their (our) minds as well. But he doesn’t really need to; he knows that we get it. We get that this small sampling of stuff means all the stuff that under normal circumstances endlessly occupies our time and thoughts. That’s the issue with worry: left unchecked it can allow stuff to be what monopolizes our goals, identity, and desires.
But seriously, how are we supposed to do that? I mean, he’s talking about all the stuff we need to live, stuff that can be in short supply, stuff that without which we will have a tough time surviving. “These things” after all, are priorities. And now, in this current situation of Pandemic we have more reason than ever to worry. If we worry under normal circumstances, how can we not worry now that they’re not normal?
If all Jesus is saying here is, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” as in that (delightful, actually) song of a decade ago by Bobby McFerrin, then we could probably look at this message as something well-intentioned, but hardly practical. Something to ponder, but then to get back on with life (and worry.)
But this is exactly where verse 33 comes in. There is a practical way to sort our thoughts and concerns over all the stuff for which we worry, a way to prioritize the priorities, such that we can stop the worry. It’s this: Put God first! That is, put our relationship with God ahead of the pursuit of the stuff. Seek first, strive for, God’s transforming work of love within us: applying his rule of forgiving grace and kindness in our relationships; searching out God’s presence and direction in our thoughts and desires; learning to let ourselves trust in God’s vision of us, and provision for us.
Jesus isn’t saying that the stuff isn’t a priority, or that we don’t need to think about it, or consider how to provide it. Just the opposite. As he says, God knows that we need these things, and wants us to have the stuff we need. What he is saying is that if we will put God first in life, that if we will give our greater energy and effort, seeking and striving, to become the people we are called to be first in life, then that will cause all the stuff of life to fall into place without the worry. So, seek first the reign of God within you and in your life. Be a Seeker! Not a worrier.