Matthew 6:25-34: Radical Words for Trusting God for Life's Ordinaries — An Excerpt from McKnight's "Sermon on the Mount" Commentary
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." —Matt. 6:25, 34
Most of us have read these words ten-fold. Many of us have preached these words ten-fold. Yet how many of us grasp their significance, in a way that matters to our own lives as much as for the lives of our people?
In his new Sermon on the Mount commentary, an inaugural volume in an important new series, The Story of God Bible Commentary, McKnight says "These are words for radicals about a radical lifestyle of trusting God for the ordinaries of life while devoting oneself unreservedly toward the kingdom mission."
Yes they are. Read the excerpt below and pass it along to your church email list, small group, or Facebook friends so that they understand how they themselves can trust God for life's ordinaries.
LISTEN TO THE STORY
God is the Creator and Sustainer. Too often we believe like theists (a personal God) and act like deists (a distant, impersonal, non-interactive, uninvolved god). We say we believe in God, trust in God, and are sustained by God; but in our actions we do everything for ourselves, trusting in ourselves and anxious about the providence of God, which unravels our theism. We believe that God not only gives life but is life itself, and that belief means that every breath we take and every moment of life we live comes from and is sustained by the creator God.
Without venturing into pantheism (all is God) or a softer version in panentheism (God is in all), the Christian faith affirms that all of life in the entire cosmos is from God and is sustained by God. God, then, is actively at work in all of life. This is why the ancient Israelites prayed to God for provisions and thanked God for the provisions they had. This is why the entire framework of blessings and curses (Lev 26; Deut 28) finds its way so deeply in the Bible’s understanding of how life works: since God is Creator, and since God is responsible for sustenance, the presence and absence of provisions are acts of God…
A careful reading of our text in the context of Jesus’ own radical itinerant ministry prompts us to think that our full pantries and refrigerators are playing a different game than the one Jesus and his followers played. These are words for radicals about a radical lifestyle of trusting God for the ordinaries of life while devoting oneself unreservedly toward the kingdom mission.
EXPLAIN THE STORY
Anxiety is a barometer of one’s God: those with anxiety about “life” worship Mammon, while those without anxiety worship the providing God. Teachings like these, of course, fall hard on the emotions of those who are more prone to worry than those who are careless, while the same words of Jesus are easily absorbed by shirkers. Jesus’ words are misunderstood by both: some of us need to learn to trust while others need to be more concerned in a proper way.
I suspect we need to consider this as rhetoric and not psychology; Jesus forces his disciples to get their priorities right. The term “worry,” which appears in this passage six times (6:25, 27, 28, 31, 34 [2x]), translates the Greek verb merimnaü and describes, when used negatively, internal disturbance at the emotional and psychological level that disrupts life. Guelich sees in this term “an anxious endeavor to secure one’s needs.”8 This term “worry” needs to be connected to the disposition of fear and little faith in verse 30.
LIVE THE STORY
…There are, then, a few points we need to keep in mind when we seek to live out this Story today. We need to trust God as the creator and sustainer of all of life. We need to embrace the mission that God has given us, and “my mission” is as a husband and father, as well as professor and preacher and author. We need to dwell in the confidence that the kingdom is reaching from the future into the present world and that God promises to bless those who are
indwelling that kingdom. This is not to say that each of us will always have all that we want or even what we need; rather, we must see Jesus’ teachings as they were meant to be seen: assuming the reality and availability of provisions, Jesus calls us to strike out and trust God for what we need…
Jesus is probing into the heart of his followers to ask them if they value life more than kingdom and righteousness. Perhaps the best way to think about this is that Jesus doesn’t call us to be care-less about provisions but to be care-free.
Some folks find in this text an opportunity to be lazy, or an opportunity to give away everything in a reckless or unwise manner. Jesus isn’t encouraging his disciples to be reckless. Instead, he’s calling them to follow him and to see that following him, or (in our text) seeking first the kingdom and righteousness, reshapes what we value most. (pg. 215-223)
Read more of McKnight’s commentary on Sermon on the Mount: Get the free eBook, Kingdom Vision
Sermon on the Mount, SGBC
by Scot McKnight
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