Luke 12:22-31 (CEV)
22 Jesus said to his disciples:
I tell you not to worry about your life! Don’t worry about having something to eat or wear. 23 Life is more than food or clothing. 24 Look at the crows! They don’t plant or harvest, and they don’t have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds. 25 Can worry make you live longer? 26 If you don’t have power over small things, why worry about everything else?
27 Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. 28 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t he do even more for you? You have such little faith!
29 Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. 30 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father knows what you need. 31 But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.
What Is God’s Work?
If math formulas always worked in real life, I’d be all for them. “Do this and say this and you’ll end up like this” sounds like a great idea. I love the idea of assurance and guarantee and predictable.
Unfortunately, my experience of life is that most of the people who have tried to ‘sell’ me on a formula for life have gotten it wrong, so I’m pretty hesitant of most things – you might even call me a cynic! “Deposit this much into your child’s RESP every month for 18 years and they’ll have their tuition covered.” I wish. “Don’t talk about sex, think about sex or have sex until you get married, and then it will be wonderful.” Not so much. “Go to University, get a good job and you’ll never have to worry about money again.” Or, not.
So I’m not going to make any promises to you about this, but the truth of the matter is that I have seen God take care of people – and I have especially seen that happen for those who focus on loving people (putting ‘God’s work first’, as the verse says).
I think it’s important to reiterate that when worry (which is really just a gentler way of saying ‘fear’) rules – fear that I won’t have enough to eat or pay the rent with or clothe myself with or take care of my kids with – then it leaves little to no room for love. Fear and love are opposites – the one crowds out the other – so if fear is running around in our minds, writing long nagging lists or trying to protect and control what is happening, then there is no room for us to hear that we are loved.
I showed up at Bible school when I was 18 pretty afraid. I was away from home for the first time ever – two time zones away, in Edmonton – and I knew no one. I hadn’t had a lot of success with friendships over the years, and I’m pretty sure I was a tough kid to have as a roommate – I was often too scared to be able to just ‘join in’ with whatever was going on, and I was pretty sure the best way to deal with fear was to keep All.The.Rules. (I know, you’re thinking how much fun you missed by not knowing me back then!)
But I was incredibly fortunate to move into a house with a group of girls who understood what it meant to put God’s work first. The girls of our “Girls’ Nest” had tasted and understood the power of loving community, and they lived out God’s welcome and promise of inclusion to everyone in our class. The school has been in operation for more than 40 years, and I’ve been told repeatedly that our year was special – and I firmly believe that this was the difference: a group of people who put God’s work first.
And here’s what I discovered: when they did that – when eventually I did that – all the rest just seemed to be there. I arrived with only the clothes I could carry in my luggage allowance, and within days my room was completely furnished. We had no money, but we had a friend who’s family – completely with mom and siblings – had no food left, and so we went and bought a weeks’ worth of groceries and left it on her doorstep, and we had enough to eat. And we were expected to go out and participate in community groups that were serving some of the poorest and weakest and most marginalized in society – each of us asked to go well beyond our comfort zone – and we came back filled to overflowing with the experience of being loved by those we had gone to ‘serve’.
When fear rules there is no room for love.
But when we do God’s work of loving, then we join in the flow of love, and love takes care of all that we were afraid of.
- What does it mean to succumb entirely to love?
- God’s work is to love … so what does it look like for you to put that first?
- Community expands around a loving central force and falls apart in the midst of fear.
- How are you involved in building up love?
- How might you be accidentally pulling it apart with fear?
- How could you reconnect to or deepen your connection with love this week?