Strive first for the kingdom of God.
Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.
- Matthew 6:31-34.
We reach the end of this chapter and find Jesus summing up much that has just gone before. We've been taught the prayer that speaks of God's coming kingdom (verses 9-13). Now we are reminded just how much that kingdom is to be the home we seek and the home we know.
What then is this kingdom? How can we live in it whilst living in the world? For Jesus does not seem here to be calling us away from the world. We'll still face worry and troubles (verse 34). Reality will bite as deeply into our lives as it will into everyone else's. But the reality of the kingdom will be for us the key to unlock what living means.
It becomes, in the words of Jesus, a kingdom that means hoarding less. It is a kingdom within which security comes not by the things we possess and control, but by the depth of our trust in God. Praying the prayer of Jesus, following in the footsteps of Jesus, means allowing God to be God.
And this means trusting that God is good even when bad things happen, trusting that God is active even when seeming absent, trusting that God has overcome evil even when evil is done. None of which is easy.
So often life will entice us into believing that God has let us down. Or, even worse, let others down. Then it is that the depth of our trust, our citizenship of the kingdom, will be most tested.
Think about a difficult situation you're caught up in right now. Perhaps you're facing a hardship of some sort.
Perhaps there is sickness or sadness around you. Perhaps you see an injustice. Take time to simply hold that situation with God in prayer.
Try not to demand a solution from God about it. Instead simply hold it, placing it into God's hands.
What strikes you about trusting God in this moment? What is Jesus saying to you even now through these words from Matthew?
infinite in wisdom and love,
your world hurts.
Life is too hard and there are too many ways in which we do harm and get damaged.
Trusting you and your good purposes can be unbearable.
Help us to heed Jesus here.
It matters what we build our lives upon.
It matters how we orientate ourselves upon the world's sea.
We need a compass to give us true course and assured arrival.
That is why you teach us of a kingdom not forged by ruthless force,
but ushered in through the birth of a baby and a death upon a cross.
Help us to trust, and to enter in to life.
Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.
Published on 30 January 2020