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Sunday, May 31, 2015

When Living in a Storm Zone

Do Not Worry  (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

“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 than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers 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—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.

Some years ago during the Cold War and the constant threat of mass destruction the age became known as the "age of anxiety." Now, with terrorism, huge inequalities of wealth, distrust by many of the police power of the state, a feeling of political disenfranchisement, national and international unrest – all these things remind us that the age of anxiety is still with us.

I live in a storm zone and tomorrow will be the official beginning of the hurricane season. Yet Jesus would have us not be anxious. Is he nuts or does he have a point to make? Anxiety is detrimental in a vast number of ways, not the least of which is that it can paralyze us. In the face of great anxiety, we typically fret but do nothing effectual.  The way out of anxiety requires a vision of the good and a unity of assent about the commendable nature of the requirement of getting there.  America is a land of diversity and therefore unity can be a challenge.  But this unites us – liberty and the Bill of Rights (otherwise known as the Golden rule enunciated on the national and individual level).  Thus we are unified in our goal. The only question becomes how to get there in hurricane season when multiple threats surround us. 

The only effective antidote to anxiety is concern – concern that is unified by a common goal and faith in the unarguable correctness of that goal. This breeds optimism in the face of potential calamity. It breeds practical planning and cooperation. If concern is not the chosen path, then to escape anxiety we become intentionally complacent  – even cynically so. This paradoxically results in even more chronic and deep anxiety.  So let us put the Golden rule first and latch onto it with the force of faith coupled with intelligent concern and thereby effectually escape a morass of anxieties.

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