“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:25-32).
We read it, we want it to be true, and yet such a life that Jesus commands in these verses eludes us.
A life free from worry? Free from anxiety? Not only does it seem unattainable in practice; it also seems just a wee bit irresponsible, doesn’t it? At first glance, these words from Jesus seem to be advocating a life of apathy – worry about nothing, because you care about nothing. But the kind of life Jesus wants for His brothers and sisters is far from apathetic. Think of it like this:
Let’s say a child comes home from school full of anxiety because despite doing her best, she flunked her history test. She studied the chapters on the Louisiana Purchase instead of the chapters on the Revolutionary War. Or something.
And so she comes, with trembling hands, to her father to show him the test paper. And he doesn’t fly off the handle; he doesn’t yell and scream; he doesn’t immediately send her to her room bearing her history book. There are a couple of reasons why he might respond this way:
Reason number one is that he’s a terrible father. He responds like this because he doesn’t care. Her history test is her problem, and he’s got enough stuff to worry about on his own. So sign the test, put it in the folder, and then turn back to the TV. Of course, there might be a different reason.
He might respond like this not because he’s a terrible father, but because he’s a good one. He knows his daughter, knows that she is a good and caring student – that is, after all, why she’s so upset about this test. He also knows that this is one single test, and all the rest of her grades are A’s. He responds like this because he has a broader perspective than a single incident.
That perspective is the key difference. And it’s that perspective that moves us to see the words of Jesus not as advocating apathy, but instead creating inside of us a sort of holy aloofness. Like the father in the example, we can, by faith, see the bigger picture. Though there are all kinds of reasons for us to look around and feel the pangs of anxiety, but when we do, we are operating from the same limited perspective as the little girl with the failed history test. We fail to see the bigger picture.
And into that sense of anxiety steps Jesus who, with His own lofty perspective, reframes our perspective to the bigger picture, where despite all the sources of potential worry around us, we have a Father who loves us.
Christian, live with a sense of holy aloofness today built not on apathy, but on confidence in the God who provides.