Jesus said: ‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’Matthew 6:24-34
The message contained in yesterday’s reading was so important that that is where we start today. Today it is summed up in just a few well-known words: You cannot serve God and wealth.
The readings this week have challenged us to examine our relationship with our God and with those amongst whom we live out our daily lives.
Jesus understands that all this will require an enormous leap of faith. All of our human instincts fight against putting ourselves in such a vulnerable place as Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount. Two thousand years on, we are just the same, if not worse, than those amongst whom Jesus lived out his earthly life. We have more personal wealth and we have developed an even greater sense of greed. Our wealth and our ‘need’ for more and more things has evolved to a stage that would have been far beyond their wildest imaginings. We also live in a society where commitment to God, even a superficial commitment, is not seen as important by so many.
Of course, that is the spin we are constantly being offered by the media, but is that true? During our period of lockdown many churches, including those in our own benefice, have gone on-line. We have journeyed into the world that encourages us to put wealth before God. Perhaps you are one of those who think that the church does not belong there, but, during these times, contact with church websites, and the wide range of spiritual resources that have been made available through them, have been accessed by many, many more people than normally attend our churches. There is a spiritual need in this world, and there are still so many who want to come to know God, even if they do not put that desire into words.
In today’s reading Jesus gives us a recipe for supporting those who worry about the challenges of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is telling us to stop worrying, even though he knows that that is one of our favourite pastimes. Jesus is telling us to trust God and to keep everything in the perspective he sets for us.
Our challenge is to live God’s life of humble generosity and love.
Our challenge is also to lead others along the same path.
Are we up to the challenge?