Peace and Pursuing
I continually live in the tension of being thankful for what the Lord has enabled us to do, but always knowing there is so much more that needs doing. There is a good balance between ‘pressing on to the upward call’ and ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart’. It’s not either/or, but both/and. Learning to live with both pressing and trustingbrings us to reflect on Jesus’ words of encouragement.
Living Anxiety-free in a Stressful World
As we look around the world, our cities, our churches – even our families – we often feel that things are not as they should be. And it’s often easy to get swept up in a current of emotion worrying about the gap between the way things should be and the way things are.
Pushing against our tendency to worry, Jesus says plainly: ‘do not be anxious about your life’ (Matthew 5:25). Paul is even more comprehensive: ‘Do not be anxious about anything’ (Philippians 4:6). How can Paul teach this? How can Jesus say this? Doesn’t he know what’s going on? Doesn’t he watch the news?
Actually, he probably doesn’t watch the news, an industry which gets paid by sensationalising events so that you’ll get emotionally caught up in the drama and tune in tomorrow. But he does know what’s going on – and he knows what tomorrow holds – and he knows how it’s all going to turn out. Which is precisely why he can tell us not to be anxious.
A lack of anxiety is NOT disengagement from the realities of this life; we are called to be empathetic travellers in this journey. But it does mean that as we encounter the gap between the way things are and the way they should be, we do not get overwhelmed.
My grandmother was a professional worrier. If it was morning, she’d worry about what was happening later in the day. If it is was sunny, she’d worry it might rain. If it was cool, she’d worry it might get hot. And in south Georgia, it was always hot. So she’d worry it might get hotter. And if she didn’t have anything to worry about, she would worry about what she was forgetting to worry about. She was so good at worrying, she could make coffee nervous.
What is anxiety? In essence, anxiety is an emotional response to uncertainty. It is a feeling of fear or worry about what we don’t know. And not only do we not know stuff – we often don’t know what we don’t know. And that can multiply anxiety.
That’s why Jesus said it is futile to worry about food, clothing, and longevity – because worry does not solve any of them. More importantly, ‘your heavenly Father knows that you need them all’ (Matthew 6:32). It is because of God’s knowledge (omniscience) and power (omnipotence) that we can trust: God knows what we need, and he’s in control.
So as we navigate the vicissitudes of life, uncertainty abounds: we live in a world marked by political, economic, and social uncertainty. It’s easy to get caught up with anxiety about things that are beyond our control.
Rather, Jesus gives us a simple – but not always easy – key for living an anxiety-free life: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). When our passion, focus, energy, thought-life and orientation is built around pursuing the kingdom of God, we can trust that ‘all these things will be added to you’.
This is what CBU is about. Rather than getting caught up in the trends and fads which get people to tune in today, and the promise of something new tomorrow, we purse the age-old but always fresh kingdom of God. We are determined to prioritise the gospel of the kingdom, the good news of who Jesus is, what he has accomplished, and what it means for people.
The gospel is the means through which the kingdom of God comes, and it is the story that lifts us out of the turbulence surrounding us to re-position us for peace and faith as we pursue God’s purposes. When the kingdom of God is our priority, our lives are established on a rock of permanence that cannot be shaken.