It’s His Way
Matthew 6: 25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The dictionary defines righteousness as being righteous or conducting oneself righteously. Righteousness is defined asupright or moral conduct. Interestingly, moral is defined as conforming to rules, or virtuous or ethically right conduct. This may all sound basic and universal to us until we remember that terms like virtuous, ethical, and right are very subjective in nature. As inspirational as morality and righteousness can be they are also dependent on who is setting the rules.
In Matthew 6, Jesus is very careful to instruct his audience that God is more impressed with obedience than style and ritual. Verses 33 and 34 include an often overlooked pronoun: “his.” We are to pursue “his kingdom and his righteousness.” We are not to pursue our own kingdoms or forms of righteousness, which is exactly what Jesus argues against in Matthew 6:1.
Sadly, I hear way too many American Christians and American Christian leaders worrying about all kinds of socio-political issues as if Jesus preached politics. To the contrary, Jesus preached repentance, salvation, faith, and obedience that would cause an inward change that would be noticeable and contagious to those around us. Yet, more than 2000 years later, many American Christians still look to theological doctrines and political legislation to be the agents of change in their communities. Instead of self-reflection and self-improvement, the focus is now on judgement, accusation, and blame.
I think the end of Matthew 6 holds the key to what ails us as a society. We worry too much about Wall Street, the White House, Democrats, and Republicans. Yes, these entities hold power and influence in our lives. Yet none of them are beyond the power and influence of Jesus. Still more importantly, if we, Christians, would focus more on enacting God’s righteousness in the way we daily conductourselves, several of the things we worry about will disappear.
Finally, let me be clear: God’s righteousness has no political or denominational affiliation. God’s salvation has no nationality. Jesus Christ was and is not an American. Americans can be, but are not necessarily, Christians. Far too many of us have confused these very important distinctions. There is no external organization that gives us God’s righteousness. Instead, it is based on our individual willingness to allow the salvation of Jesus to work inwardly. Therefore, we must never forget to live our lives according to ways of Jesus. Interestingly, the true ways of Jesus’ salvation will feel uncomfortable and unnatural to us. If you are in a church or political ideology that only makes you feel good about yourself, if you are living in communities that aren’t requiring sacrificial changes, then you are probably not living according to the ways of Jesus. Remember being a Christian is about doing things HIS way not OUR way.