A sermon on Matthew 6 v. 25 – 34, first published in the Baptist Times on October 29th.

The sermon

 

In credit crunch Britain the church simply telling people ‘not to worry’ isn’t going to help.  In fact, it is reminiscent of the band playing ‘eternal father strong to save’ on the ever sloping deck of the Titanic.  If we want to help people inside and outside the church to deal with their anxiety, we need to give them reasons to trust that all will be well.

 

Unusually for Jesus, his illustrations in this passage are drawn from the world of nature round about him, rather than from the characters of his community such as tax collectors and publicans.  He tells people to look around them at birds of the air and the flowers of the field, observing how God cares for them.  If He can do it for them, how much more will he do it for humankind – the crowning glory of His creation?

 

He goes on to say that we should look away from those things which so easily preoccupy our lives – food, drink, clothing and shelter. These things are as necessary to us as food and water are to the rest of creation, but they should no preoccupy us.  Historically the spiritual lesson to be drawn from lean times is that God does provide for our needs, and not necessarily for our wants.

 

Rather than shortening our lives (or our height, depending on the translation of v.33) with worry about these things, we should look forward to the eventual fulfilment of the kingdom.

 

Scriptural issues

 

  • God’s people of old had been told that they should make prudent provision for themselves and their families.  Where does prudence stop and worry start?

 

  • Birds must hunt and plants must grow roots in order to survive- so is God looking after them, or are they looking after themselves?

 

  • There is a thin line between Christian faith about tomorrow, and fatalism which says ‘what will be will be’

 

Current issues

 

  • Words which are intended to sound like reassurance from the church can actually sound smug to those outside it – how can we avoid this?

 

  • The old King James translation of v.31 said that we should ‘give no thought to’ clothing, food and the like.  Is this faithful…or irresponsible?

“If you look at your own life and struggle to believe that God can stop it spinning out of control, at the very least look down at the spider scuttling for cover but untroubled by the credit crunch.  When Winter comes, look at the pattern of frost on your windscreen before you scrape it off, and admire the extravagant geometry of the ice crystals”

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