the error of chasing or living according to the American dream (part two of two)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

In his Parable of the Sower, Jesus mentions “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth [choking] the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).  We do well to carefully (and prayerfully) consider his words quoted above from his Sermon on the Mount, which follow the words quoted yesterday subtitled in the NIV “Treasures in Heaven,” today’s words subtitled “Do Not Worry.”

What seems to drive people to make money besides the pleasures of this life, is the thought that if they don’t take care of themselves, no one else will. And even Paul says that if anyone fails to provide for their family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). So there is responsibility. The question becomes just how we face that responsibility.

Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount make it clear that we shouldn’t be driven like the pagans are, in our society to work and work and work to provide the basic necessities of life. That we’re not to worry over whether or not we’ll get those things. That our Father knows we need them, and wants to provide them for us. Instead we’re to seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness and justice, knowing that as we do, God will supply all of our needs.

We live in a debtor society, in fact the American economy is based to a significant extent on the precarious foundation of ongoing debt, which in some ways can be remedied, or at least the pressure alleviated, but in itself not only causes problems for the nation: federal, state and local, but also big problems for individuals and families, which can end up tearing the fabric of the family apart. Certainly one of the hardest, if not the hardest problem in marriages.

The problem in our society is at least two-fold: We buy into the American lie of borrowing, thinking it to be the only way to meet our obligations and fulfill our wishes, some wishes perhaps quite legitimate, such as a college education. And we fall into the default of thinking it all depends on us. I know this all too well from my own experience.

Jesus’ words concerning this are both simple and profound. We’re not to worry, but instead we’re to trust the Father to meet our needs. And we’re to be preoccupied with seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness, which amounts to God’s will in and through Jesus. That will end up involving how we face the situation we’re in, the troubles that come our way, which Jesus doesn’t deny. What is needed is an interactive relationship with God by the Spirit and the word in the fellowship of the church. And we must not lose sight of the simplicity and directness of Jesus’s words here concerning how we’re to face this basic part of life.

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