There’s a lot of anxiety out there right now. People are worried about what’s going on in the world. And there’s a lot going on.
There was already a host of social, political, economic and justice issues to be faced when the pandemic hit. That’s created its own worries. And now, our hearts hurt for people of Ukraine and places in the world where tyranny, conflict, anger, hate and bitterness are breaking more lives.
In a moment like this, many people - religious, spiritual or none of the above - might look to the Bible for a word of comfort or support. Or justification. Some may be tempted to turn to Revelation or Ezekiel or any of the apocalyptic stories and see the end times coming. What’s happening now, they might say, is the prelude to the Second Coming and the end of the world. It’s all right there, predicted in the Bible.
Please don’t. I know it’s tempting, but if you’re looking for some direction from the Bible, please look to Jesus instead because, well: love wins.
Jesus even talks about worry in the Sermon on the Mount. He gets to it about a third of the way through (Matt. 6:24-34), but, right from the beginning, with the Beatitudes, he talks about many things that we might be anxious about, including the law, anger, reconciliation, divorce, loving you enemies and other things. Then he says you have to choose, because you can’t let your life be led by God and material things.
Life is more than wealth, more than material things, more than “stuff.” Look at the birds, he says, or the flowers in the fields. They aren’t anxious, they just “be,” trusting in God. The point is, Jesus says, if you live with God at the centre of your life - that is, God which is the spirit of life and love that is grace and compassion, respect and care, creativity and positivity - if that’s what you put at the centre of your life and live that out into the world, then everything else will be what it needs to be. Trust in that, have faith in that, and we won’t be locked down by anxiety, paralyzed by fear or lost in worry. We’ll know that God is with us and working through us: we are not alone and we are empowered and inspired by love.
There are things we can do. Birds fly and flowers grow, remember. No matter how seemingly small an action may feel, each of us has something to offer. It may begin with thoughts and prayers, but that’s just a beginning, action follows according to our ability. For some that might be direct personal action, for others a donation of money or goods, verbal or visual support, letters to governments, what things you buy or use, even consideration of what you wear or where you travel. Even in moments when we feel there’s nothing we can do, love can inspire us to action.
It’s easy to get caught up in material things and in the very real grief and hardship of a struggling world. I think Jesus knows that. And our modern world is so much more complex than birds and flowers. But I bet Jesus would say “don’t worry. Love is in you. The divine spirit of life is in you. All that other stuff’s outside. Strive to be the truest you and you’ll be what you need.”