Security is a pretty hefty value in today’s world. In America there seems to be a strong sense that we have lost some of the security we enjoyed in the best, whether economic or social or military, and that it needs to be recovered. Anxiety seems high in many directions. I just read a Christianity Today article which says that Hispanic church attendance is down because even documented green card holders are fearful of exposing themselves to immigration officers who might be watching for them entering or leaving worship services.
In such an anxious atmosphere, Jesus words which open our text from Matthew 6:25-34 seem pretty naive and unrealistic, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” Jesus goes on to focus particularly on matters of food and clothing, so we might be tempted to think He is not talking about other sorts of worries. But it’s good to recognize that many of our security fears, especially about the economy or for immigrants about their status in this country, boil down to concern about being able to feed and clothe ourselves and our families.
Is Jesus asking us to simply put aside our fears and worries, throw caution to the winds, and let the chips fall where they may in regard to the necessities of this life and our future? Is there a place in what He tells us in this text for having a savings account, seeking job security, and planning for retirement? Is there room here for wanting to live in a community that has police and fire protection?
Jesus’ in verses 26-30, inviting us to consider the birds and the lilies of the field as models of non-anxious living, are often felt to be especially comforting. But if His point is more than just a simplistic and often unrealistic assurance that everything is going to turn out O.K. in this life, then the comfort needs more contemplation. The practical application is not simple and seems fraught with questions and ways to go awry.
So let’s think more together about all this and for what it means for us if we want to take these words of Jesus seriously in the world in which we live now. I’d be glad to hear thoughts from others.