Archive for September 28th, 2010

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  ”And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

John Stott just published his final book. He called it The Radical Disciple. I read it. I wrote a review of it. In short, Stott, well known for his preaching among other things, boiled down discipleship to eight ‘neglected aspects.’ In his opinion, those eight are: nonconformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. I love John Stott and have read many of his books. This is not one of my favorites.

He confesses at the end of the book that the eight ‘neglected aspects’ are random and that his readers very well may choose their own eight (or more or less). I don’t disagree that the eight he chose are important, I just disagree that they are the most neglected (creation care? Please!). I looked at the birds in my backyard; they eat well. I watched the flowers grow all year; spectacular indeed. I have tried to imagine Solomon in all his royal robes—some scene it must have been each day when he strode into the room. I imagine there is something more significant to discipleship than creation care, but that’s just my opinion.

It’s hard not to worry though. It’s like we are wired for it. Maybe we worry because we have placed too much stock in the things that we think are necessary to life on earth. Maybe I wouldn’t worry so much about losing my stuff if I didn’t have stuff in the first place. Maybe we spend too much time chasing too much of the wrong stuff, seeking the wrong things? Then again, I don’t happen to think it is a sin to have stuff.

If I were writing a book called The Radical Disciple one of my eight would be that the radical disciple is content. In Rich Mullins words, “Well, His eye’s on the sparrow/And the lilies of the field I’ve heard/And He will watch over you and He will watch over me/So we can dress like flowers and eat like birds.” I wish I had that sort of contentment and faith but when I wake in the morning some of my first words are ‘what will I eat today?’ and ‘what will I wear today?’ Maybe I have too many choices.

What does it take to have that sort of faith? You know what I mean—the sort of faith that is determined that flower petal dresses and birdseed sandwiches are quite enough thank you very much. Wendell Berry poetically noted, “In your wild foragings/The earth feeds you the way/She feeds the beasts and birds.” Yes, she does. I still wonder about all those people in the world whom God seems no to know need food, the ones dressed less as well as flowers.

I’m not, Jesus says, supposed to be like the pagans. Jesus says that following him means that we will approach each day differently than the pagans. Today is enough, he says, if I am seeking something other than the day. Seek righteousness. See his kingdom. Seek something other than the things the world expects you to be seeking. Is that the definition of faith? Do I have the sort of courage required to actually do that? What if I went an entire day seeking nothing but righteousness and His kingdom to the utter neglect of the things that I have been conditioned, from the day of my birth, to seek each day?

I’ll bet I would worry a lot less because those things, when sought, cannot help but be found.

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