Jesus said, "… Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).
On Sunday, I’ll be in a place where this gospel will be read to a congregation of people who have plenty of things. I wonder how the same gospel might sound to people in Haiti or Darfur or, closer to home, our neighbors in Appalachia or our Room in the Inn guests. People who really don’t have enough may have difficulty finding the good news in Jesus’ words.
Those who have enough and those who do not will perceive the message differently. But the message is the same: don’t be anxious about these things, instead, look beyond them to see God’s hand at work.
This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount and part of Jesus’ challenge: life in the kingdom of God has different values. It includes the poor, the merciful, those who mourn. It includes our privilege and duty to bring light to the darkest places, to salt the world with mercy and justice. These words of Jesus, taken out of context, sound unrealistic to someone who is suffering. But seen in context, we realize that Jesus is reminding his followers of God’s love for everything and everyone God has created and encouraging his followers to focus on their lives as citizens of God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ aim is to disconnect the link between value and virtue. God did not send a hurricane to New Orleans, but God inspired thousands of compassionate followers of Jesus to help those who remain rebuild their lives. God did not send an earthquake to Haiti, but God moved the hearts of thousands of Christians to bind up their wounds. God did not drive people out of their homes in Darfur, but God led people to build schools for their children to restore their hope. God did not curse the people of Appalachia with poverty, but God blesses them with believers who help them repair their homes. In God’s kingdom, we know that God’s bounty often passes through our lives on the way to others who need it most. We who are blessed are privileged to bless others.
Now, on to Egypt, Syria, New Zealand...