The Kingdom Manifest (04) - The Faith of the Kingdom
The Kingdom Manifest (part 4) - The Faith of the Kingdom (Matt. 6:24-34)
"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. 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . .
1) You Must Give Up Your Idols (v24). It starts with a choice of Masters. Jesus sets before us the choice of serving God or anything else. That’s what “mammon” means. It is the broad category of “these things” (vv23-24). We always may escape from our idolatries by simply selecting a new Master. The secret that only is known from within God’s Plantation is that being liberated from slavery to “all these things” and being a slave under Christ is actually not slavery at all but sonship. He says “slave” but His slaves are actually His “friends,” “brothers,” “sons,” and incredibly He washes their feet and grills fish for them, among His lesser duties as our Slave.
2) You Must Give Up Your Imaginations (vv25-31). Worry is imagination used poorly. Instead of envisioning kingdom realities, we relive or pre-live fruitless emotions or things outside of our actual control. The connection between slavery and “worry” should not be overlooked. “Therefore,” He says, “do not worry” (v25). Because worry indicates that you are a slave ofsomething(s). If you give up your idols, you need not worry about anything. No one need worry about God . . . . “Oh I hope God is ok today, I hope He does not crash His car, I hope He doesn’t get sick ...” You may only think rightly about Him (which is actually worship) or think wrongly about life which is ascends into worry-worship. So worry is just negatively charged worship.
3) You Must Give Up Your Idealism (vv32-33). Jesus’s simple list of worries is implicitly comprehensive of everything in your idealistic life. It constitutes our ideal or idol “kingdom.” It includes not only physical needs like food and shelter, but possessions (or money), acceptance from others (part of our “dress for success” plan) and therefore, our desire for status or position in other’s eyes. Our achievement, identity and purpose for life are implicit in the “seek first” command (v33). The world is full of books to guide you to an ideal life, addressing these worries of life. One of those books is the Bible. The Bible’s teaching here is very realistic. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (v32). The contrast is one of priorities. “But strive first” for God’s rule and righteousness in your life. We must give up our “idealistic” view of life in exchange for God’s Kingdom Priorities. But don’t miss the results of this kingdom replacement therapy, “and all these things will be given to you as well” (v33).
4) You Must Live in the Instant (v34). The final prescription is quite practical. How do we avoid the idolatry of our own ideal kingdom of needs? What is a direct action we can take in place of “worry”? We must live in the instant, in the moment, in the present, not in the past or even in the future. Verse 34, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.” It is perfectly clear that there are things to worry about tomorrow and that there will be trouble tomorrow. There’s no denial here. Knowing this does not require that we worry about it. And when we worry-ship about it we are not changing anything except the color of our hair and number of wrinkles on our face. “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (v27).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more