Anxiety’s Remedy: Kingdom is at hand

I have been meditating on a very familiar verse recently:

“Seek ye first the KINGDOM OF GOD and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Matt. 6:33

When we look at the context in which this verse appears, we first see it as part of what Jesus said while preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Then, we realize that within the sermon He’s addressing a very specific issue when giving us this command. Jesus is telling us not to be anxious about physical needs, like food, drink, and clothes:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?… And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:25, 28-29, 31, 33-34 (ESV)

This is all very practical teaching that we probably would happily and immediately obey when we are anxious, if we could do it ourselves. No one likes to feel anxious, but sometimes it just takes over. When that happens, it’s good for us to stop and acknowledge it. That’s how we can take all those raw emotions before Him, and remember that what He has for us is Peace, not anxiety.

I love that Jesus normalizes our worries. He’s not surprised we tend to experience it in this life. Most of us worry over safety, health concerns, relational conflict, or financial needs, and I guess food and clothing are included in the mix too. Although He normalizes it, He doesn’t settle for it. What He offers us is exceedingly better. 

So, what exactly does “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” mean? And how is this a remedy for anxiety?

I once believed the answer was all about putting thoughts on heaven.  Thinking about a far away place where we would go after we die.  I thought that if all our focus were on what we get after this life, then we could put up with anything on this earth – starvation, thirst, lack of clothes…, all without worry.  I’m glad I was corrected in my thinking.  

For one, Jesus never talked about a ‘far away land’ of heaven when talking about the “Kingdom of God” or even “the Kingdom of Heaven”.  I think that idea comes from a lot of misinterpretations on Revelation 21.  If you read it carefully though, it actually speaks of “heaven coming down” and earth being renewed. 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” 

Revelation 21:1–3 (ESV)

Of course, we tend to get a lot of Revelation wrong when we attempt to read it literally. It is a book written in a very unique literary form, with many allegories. For now, let’s go  back to Matthew, where we read that “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matt 3:2, 4:17,10:7).  This is NOW, not when we die.  

Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God, and as we said last week, even taught us to pray: 

May your Kingdom come, and your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! 

When He says “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness”, He’s not talking about a specific place or virtue (righteousness) we can get anywhere outside of Himself. It is in Jesus that we are clothed in his righteousness and abide in his Kingdom.  When you seek Him, you find the reality of his upside down Kingdom. Where the last is first, the humble are exalted, and you love your enemies….  When we abide in Him, our worries are enveloped by his love and we can rest in Him.

Even when things get rough, you can still feel that his grace is sufficient.  You know for a fact that His power is made perfect in weakness (I Cor 12:9). That’s why we like to talk about “Abiding in his grace for the day”. His mercies renew every morning, so we will get new amounts of grace tomorrow. 

Today, let’s receive his love, wisdom, discernment, joy, and peace.  His grace for the day. For today. Not as people who are unaware of our circumstances or the circumstances of the world we live in, but as people who are grounded in the unshakable reality of his presence with us through it all. 

Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Todd and Dr. Christiane

Construction Update!

All the pews in the back of the Church were removed this week and are standing on end (see pictures).  We will all be sitting in the front 6-8 row of pews on Sunday.

The pew kneelers were ALL removed.  Here is what we are planning so you may still kneel if you choose:

  • We have the small cushion kneelers in the pews instead of at the altar for those who choose to kneel.
  • At the altar, we are going to have temporary matting (think yoga mat) for people to kneel on during communion.
  • The small rectangular cushion kneelers will be available throughout the first 6-8 pews.
  • In Addition, the hymnal racks were removed so please look in the seat of your pew to find the BCP and the hymnal.

Thanks for all your patience during this time!