WORRY CAN HIJACK our lives, and we’ve all experienced it. Jesus’ question to us in this passage (Matthew 6:25-34) is simply this: “Why do you worry?” . . .
Let’s start with the answer that’s front and center in the passage. Sometimes we worry about the basic things of life: food, drinks, clothes, and shelter. That is, we worry about material provision: Will we have enough? Where will our basic necessities come from? Are our sources reliable? For the original audience of this passage, these are legitimate worries. Jesus’ audience is, by and large, composed of rural peasants and a few tradespeople. They don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. Basic needs aren’t something Jesus’ earliest followers can count on. For far too many people in the world today, this continues to be the case.
To be clear, when Jesus tells these folks not to worry, he’s not doing so because he doesn’t care about their poverty or because he doesn’t think material deprivation is a big deal. Material insecurity is an evil, something to be eradicated whenever and wherever it shows itself. “Don’t worry” is never a sufficient response to the poverty of others. Jesus spends a lot of time in his ministry teaching about the responsibility that the rich have toward the poor, to say nothing of the times he miraculously meets people’s material needs. . . .
Nevertheless, even to those in dire straits, Jesus warns against all-consuming worry and offers an invitation: “Don’t worry; your heavenly Father cares for you. See yourself beyond that which you lack. Seek first the kingdom of God, and God will provide for your needs.” This invitation offers dignity to those who are impoverished. Jesus refuses to reduce the poor to their poverty; he recognizes that the universal human striving for transcendence, for meaning, and for purpose do not vanish when hunger sets in. After all, many of the world’s great spiritual insights have come from people who were desperately poor by modern standards. The sturdiness of human dignity in the face of material insecurity demands that we act to relieve poverty whenever and wherever we can.
– Matthew Croasmun
Let Me Ask You a Question
From pages 59-60 of Let Me Ask You a Question: Conversations with Jesus by Matthew Croasmun. Copyright © 2018 by Matthew Croasmun. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Do you worry? How does today’s reading speak to your worrying? Share your thoughts.
On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:5, NRSV
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This week we remember: Thomas (July 3).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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