Friday 6 September 2013

Striving still

Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.  For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."  (Luke 12:22-31)

It would be easy to reduce this to "don't worry, be happy."  Or even "don't worry, be happy, God will provide."  And then just sit back and wait for it, whatever "it" is, to be provided.

If only we were ravens or lilies, right?

That would be great, but even so, Jesus isn't using them as an example of "if you only believe, that's enough."  The point of the raven and the lilly is that they already live in relationship with the world around them, so that they are fed and clothed.  Each has a place in the web of creation, each relates to earth and sky and air such that they are fed and watered, each gives and receives in its own way, as needed.  That's the greatest beauty of creation, that it works in relationship within itself. 

At least, all of creation but us.  And that's Jesus point.  To strive for God's kingdom is to live in relationship with all things - all things - as God intended.

No, this is not one of those environmentalist rants.  But it could be.  And it should be.  Because that's an important piece of the kingdom.  How we love the earth and all its creatures should equal how we love each other and how we love God.   That means respect, care, compassion, justice and grace.

Being good stewards of the earth is about care and love, not authority.  Even if you want to "have dominion," thanks to Genesis, that's really about good governance, I think.  And good governance shouldn't be about power over things, it should be about power with things for everyone's mutual benefit.  Tell your MP that.

And yes, I drive a car, I heat the house and power my computer.  I recycle, but probably not as much as I could.  Call me a hypocrite if you want, but I'm not suggesting perfection is happening anytime soon for anyone, I'm just saying we should try to make an effort.
But that's still just a part of what Jesus is saying.  After all, "life is more than food, and the body more than clothing"  (Luke 12:23).  

Jesus calls us to be right in spirit, in heart and mind.  That might seem more of a challenge than being right with creation - it is - because it requires us to look at our relationship with ourselves.  But with that, we can then truly love our neighbour as ourselves.  With that, we shall not want (to paraphrase a psalm).  With that, all "these things will be given to you as well."