Monday, 26 May 2008

Do Not Be Anxious

There is a spot in the Adam Sandler movie Spanglish where the Mexican maid is worrying about her daughter, and instead of the Sandler character saying, 'Hey, don't worry, it will be alright,' he says children are a good thing to worry about. Which is all a bit counter-cultural. We are told not to worry, not to stress, etc. And it is easy to read this into Jesus in Matt 6:25ff. But I don't think this is what Jesus is saying. I don't subscribe to the idea that our task is to get to a point in life where we do not have to worry. I think there are good things to worry about.

In the Scripture reading just mentioned, the contrast Jesus is drawing is between being anxious about those things that tend toward superficiality and seeking God's kingdom. He is not saying seek a spot where there is nothing to be worried about. Or should I say 'concerned'. I think the cultural message about worry and stress (that is, aspire to a stress-free life) is just a mask for withdrawal from the world. Jesus says that we should seek the kingdom. That will involve worry and stress.

A few points:

  • I'm not suggesting worrying yourself sick about the kingdom. That would be to forget that it is God's kingdom, not your kingdom. Realising this allows us to take one step back from what we are striving for, to be what the tradition calls detached. It is God's kingdom, God's ultimate responsibility, and God will see it right. (We are now touching on faith and hope in the resurrection of Jesus.) This is why kingdom worries are not the anxieties of the world. (Not to mention that the kingdom anxieties are more than clothes, food etc.)

  • If you have to worry about things like clothes etc, then don't worry about the fact that you are worrying about them! Just get it over and done with, do what you have to do (whatever that is) to allow you to stop worrying about that kind of stuff. And then get on with seeking the kingdom.


  1. I think this is an interesting reflection on worrying. I think you are right trying to live a stress free life results in withdrawing from the world. So you build a big wall around your house to increase your security. This though actually is withdrawing from the issue. Rather than solving the issue of community safety and making a safe community. We withdraw from our community. I don't think the Gospel calls us to withdraw from our community but to transform our community.