‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.’ Luke 12:22-23
I must admit that I have found these words of Jesus more than a little troubling at times. St Catherine’s Church in Wakefield, where I serve, has been at the forefront of emergency food provision for well over a decade. Telling people whose biggest anxiety is whether they can afford a summer holiday next year not to worry, is one thing.
However, when you speak to people who literally do not know where their next meal is coming from, telling them not to worry about what they will eat seems more than a little pastorally insensitive!
Yet it is worth reflecting on exactly who Jesus was speaking to. Most of the first hearers of Jesus’ words would have known all about anxiety. The average person would be just one disaster away from desperation. A single sickness or an unexpected injury, and the family would be destitute. When you read Jesus’ words with this in mind they suddenly seem very different.
Jesus is well aware of people’s desperation and has no illusions about the world. However, he still points people to a God of generosity and love. A Father who longs to lavish good gifts on his children.
If we are to point people to the same God, the only way is to not only speak about a generous God, but to show it in our lives. Are we able to give our food and clothing to those who need it, even if it hurts us, confident that our Father God will not let us down? Jesus’ words are not only a call to those who are struggling, maybe they are also a call for us to give away enough that we too have to trust in the generosity of our Father God.