What do we really need? Our society is based on acquisition of things, especially wealth. We are concerned about what we do not have, especially people who are considered to be “have not”. Jesus is saying that it doesn’t matter how hard we try to get things, we can’t accumulate more than what God can provide for us. If we are called to our heavenly home by God, what good will earthly goods be? After all, we can’t take them with us. What Jesus is saying in the reading we just heard from Matthew’s Gospel is that we must put first things first. In other words, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God, and we must do this every day. To seek the Kingdom, we must first seek the King.
We must first seek his righteousness. In other words, we are to be seeking God’s character within us, not God’s control over us. It is our job to serve God and God’s job is to supply us with what we need-not the other way around. God will supply us with what we really need if we put our trust in him. We don’t need everything we want, and we don’t want everything we need. God doesn’t give us everything we need.
People must see the Kingdom in us as we see the Kingdom of God. That is the real mark of a Christian. When ordinary people begin to talk about their faith in Christ, long-lasting results are achieved. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We are all called to be a witness for Christ in our lives. It opens the door, even slightly, for God to do something in the life of the person who hears the story. In order for the message to have integrity, it must first be embodied in our lives. In other words, God must be number one in our lives.
The message of the Gospel about the power of Christ to change a human life is by its very nature controversial because people just naturally resist change and agents of change. Most of us would rather settle for our old familiar second-best lifestyle than venture with Christ into a far more excellent way of life. We simply don’t like for people to make waves.
But whenever the Spirit of Christ is released in a person’s life or let loose on a congregation, things begin to happen. Broken relationships are healed as reconciliation takes the place of alienation. The fruits of the Spirit such as love, peace, patience and kindness begin to emerge. And people catch fire for the Lord! No one can deny that something is going on. The earth may not quake, a sound like a mighty wind might not be heard, tongues of fire may not appear, and people may not speak in strange languages, but it could be described as a “second Pentecost”. And at times like these you can either respond favourably or negatively to Christ, but you will find it hard to ignore him. There is something about the activity of Christ that causes us to choose sides.
Jesus’ parable of the rich fool is a good example of what he is trying to tell us in Matthew 6:24-34. The rich man kept building bigger and bigger barns, and then he died. He was foolish because he spent all of his time preparing for a future that never came. The future is not God’s creation-it is our imagination. We dream about the future, but God creates today. God is not saying that we should not prepare for the future at all. On the contrary, he is telling us to prepare for a future with him by putting our trust and faith in him, and by letting him work through us to do his work in the world.
The main problem in society today is worry about the future. The problem with worrying is that it is easy to do but so hard to lose. It is a power that controls our lives. Worry is a big problem for our society. Advertising only adds to that worry because it tries to convince us that we really need the newest car, computer, dress, suit, etc. This is really about acceptance, but the only acceptance that should matter to Christians is acceptance by God.
Many of the problems we can’t solve instantly can be moved one piece at a time, one day at a time. When worries seem to be overtaking you, let God take over. Trust God to supply our needs and take care of our future. Let faith provide you with a healthy and balanced perspective about life and its demands. Instead of nursing wounds of self-pity, pray for the grace to forgive. Instead of worrying about those for whom we are responsible, ask God to intervene and lift the burden from our shoulders. Instead of thinking creatively about how to bring someone else down, pray creatively how to build them up. We find peace of mind and heart only when we wrap ourselves in something bigger than ourselves. Peace is a by-product of being committed to the Kingdom of God and the resources God gives us for the journey we call life.
We serve only that which we love supremely. We can’t serve both God and man. In other words, a man of the world can’t truly be a religious character. We can be in the world but not of the world only if we trust and serve the Lord. Our existence depends solely on God. We must trust on his wisdom that what he provides for us is truly what we need. We must obey his instructions and submit to whatever he uses to transform our character, whether it is hardship, suffering or ease. When we make a commitment to become increasingly like Christ, God will take responsibility for providing whatever we need.
Grace is the way to glory, holiness the way to happiness. God has conferred the greatest blessings (life and the body) so he will be willing to confer the lesser blessings of food, clothing, shelter and other necessities. Those who ask receive, and those who seek find, but not always in the way they expect because God answers prayer in his own time and in his own way.
Man has three basic, insatiable needs:
- To feel significant
- To feel secure
- To be loved
The best way to meet these needs is to make God number one in our lives. Everything we do and say, day by day, is of importance to him. Only as we love God can we love our spouse, children, neighbours, siblings and friends in a complete way. Man is formed for nobler pursuits than the desire to be rich. He lives for eternity. Those who do not know God WILL be anxious about the future, but those who do know him may surely trust him for the supply of their wants. If our minds are directed to both earthly and heavenly things, we become distracted, confused and darkened. We can’t serve both God and man. Trusting and serving God will prevent worldly anxieties.
In order to trust God to provide for our daily needs, we must value ourselves and forget ourselves and focus on God. God does not tell us not to work. In fact, he tells us in the Ten Commandments to work six days and rest on the seventh. Those who do not trust God to provide for their needs will not rest in that seventh day. By not worrying about our needs, we are free to serve him, love him and help our fellow man. We have a power stronger than anxiety-the power of God and prayer. We have a peace that outlasts our anxiety and difficulties-the peace of God, which passes all understanding.
God is committed to the gospel of Jesus and to anyone who makes it their first priority. Other than that, we’re on our own. We’ll have to “Fish or cut bait”. God is not obligated to fund our dreams and projects-only his and the ones planted within us through spiritual gifts and divine calling. To strip Christian faith of its unpredictability and risk in order to turn it into a warm velvet limo ride to a perfect world is to destroy it. Those of you who watched the reality program Fear Factor may have been disgusted by some of the stunts, but at some level we all know that getting the rewards of life is dependent on conquering and facing our fears, and that is nowhere truer than in our relationship with Jesus Christ and the kingdom he is intent on bringing to this world. He knows how large our fears are and how puny our faith is. It honours him when we trust him. Nothing about us surprises him or makes him loves us any less. To always be seeking the kingdom is to live near the outer edge of predictability, where needs are always greater than resources. Empty hands are not hard to fill, especially when they are lifted to heaven.
We must always ask ourselves the question, “Is my life a gift from God, and if so can I trust God to sustain it?” There is no more basic question, and our lives each give an answer. Once the basic needs are met, is there anything more? Life without an appetite for God is flat and stale. Our good deeds must not loom high in our own minds. They are to be hidden from us. With one’s goodness looming before one’s eyes, one soon comes to feel that they deserve the recognition and admiration of the people. Jesus tells us not to seek this transient reward.
This does not mean that we have no interest in what others think of us. Sometimes we need to hear what those around us are saying, even if we find it unpleasant. Profiting from this praise is not the same as counting such praise as the supreme good. Jesus invites us to seek the true and lasting reward, not the transient and perishable one. That reward is the companionship of God himself. As Jesus said, “Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. It is not in satisfying our craving to have more and more that we have abundant life. No, it is in serving God and loving others as we love ourselves that abundant life is gained and lived. Possessions on earth are not for accumulating, they are for distributing in ways that Christ is honoured and our joy in heaven is increased. When we give (especially when we give so generously that we have to sell something to have anything to give), we show that Christ is our treasure and that we love others more than we love our own security and comfort.