By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
He starts talking about birds and lilies – and tells his audience not to worry about their lives, what they will eat or drink or wear. Jesus tells them not to worry about right now – and not to worry about tomorrow. God knows what you need and God will provide these things.
It makes you wonder if Jesus was just a little bit off his rocker. I mean, has he taken a good look at the world? In his time, as well as in our modern time, there is a lot to worry about. In Jesus’ time, as in our time, starvation is a very real worry for many people – and not just in some far flung part of the world – there are people starving in the city of Columbia right now.
In Jesus’ time, as well as our own, there are people who sleep under stars every night, and not because they have chosen to leave the comfort of their home for weekend of camping. This is how they live, without a four walls, a roof and a floor to call home. Homelessness continues to be a growing problem in our world.
Poverty, too, persists since Jesus’ day – people without enough money to feed or clothe themselves, and yet, Jesus has the temerity to say, “Do not worry?” What world is he living in? He’s living in a dangerous world – a world that threatened the order of the society around him and continues to threaten our modern day society, if only we’ll actually live into what he calls us to do.
The passage we read this morning starts like this: “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.”
Which master do we serve in the United States of America? Despite the God-soaked political waters we swim in – we do not serve God. We serve wealth. We worship money. We publish lists of the most wealthy people on earth – give them accolades, treat them like kings and queens. We serve them. We build our economies around the idea that wealth is better than poverty, that more is better than less, and that getting all we can before we die is entire purpose of life.
“No one can serve two masters,” Jesus says, because when we choose to serve wealth instead of God, we worry constantly. We check our bank balances obsessively. We get security systems at our houses to protect our stuff. We worry about whether or not we’ll be able to buy the best and latest gadgets for Christmas. We worry about whether we’ll have the most state-of-the-art car, and heaven forbid, we can’t walk around in last year’s fashions.
We live in an economy where we have faith in stuff, faith in money, faith in wealth – and this is exactly where our leaders want us to be. They want us to live in an anxious state of scarcity, afraid that there won’t be enough to go around. That way, we’ll laud them when they hoard their own wealth. We’ll give them tax breaks, call them “job creators” and make them our heroes.
Money, per se, is not the problem – it’s that money is finite, and whenever we crave anything finite, we can never have enough of it, because there isn’t enough to go around. That drives us to want to get all we can for ourselves while we can.
Jesus invites us to consider a different world – a world where we put our relationship with the Holy first – where we put our faith exclusively on the Lord of creation, not the lord of money. This is the world of the infinite. Here, we find an infinite supply of faith, an infinite supply of love, an infinite supply of generosity, and an infinite supply of peace. This is a place that operates on a different economy.
When new friends come into my life, or when I get a new puppy or kitten, I don’t have to ration out a finite supply of love to the growing list of people and creatures around me. No! When more people and creatures come into my life, my love multiplies. It grows large enough to cover them all. In this Holy economy, love cannot be stockpiled or hoarded like money – instead it grows and flows with abundance.
When we enter into this world we find our worries disappear – we understand there is more than enough for all of us, and this is a world where our faith grows and flows with abundance. There is no scarcity, which is really what creates our fear and worry. Abundance produces freedom. The choice is ours, which master will win our faith?
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