Sustainability, Worry, & Denial of the Body of Christ


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By. Rev. J.C. Mitchell

“On the other hand you can wear a glove.” I heard my mom say that many times, often when we were discussing something where there were too many options, or especially when there were many options but there was one clear choice and thus she encouraged the conversation toward action.  I find myself using it as well and it works, as it also provides a laugh, which is also beneficial.

So perhaps you have been at a church meeting where one person questions sustainability and another says if we are following God, the divine will provide.  They may even quote, “look at the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26) However, I am weary of those who answer a struggle with only one verse.  Did not Satan do that to Jesus in the desert as part of the temptation?  Jesus responded by basically saying, “it is also written.”[1]  However, without the great knowledge available to Jesus himself, you would just be cherry picking, and honestly either side could say, “on the other hand you can wear a glove.”

I do believe it is important to follow God over wealth, which is exactly what Matthew 6 is about and the issue surrounding wealth is summed up by this verse, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one or love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). Afterwards Jesus tells us of the birds in the sky and reminds us life is not just about food and clothes and commands us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (v.34).  However, the person concerned about sustainability is not just simply worrying, and certainly they do not believe wealth is their master. They did not say “let us make money to be able to replace the old van with a Rolls Royce and a chauffeur.”  To bring up sustainability can be exactly what God wants, but often some people want to skip into the future as if there isn’t any issue now  may actually be in denial, and not listening to God.  Jesus did not say it would be easy.

What a hard balance it is: having faith God will provide for God’s ministry, and the need to do the hard work of God’s ministry.  The key here is anxiety–yes, anxiety.  It is an important thing to humans but it can also be debilitating.  If one is avoiding the anxiety of financial reality, they are missing an important part of engagement of the issues and problems, and if one only feels the financial anxiety, they are not necessarily under the spell of wealth, but cannot see beyond the anxiety of paying bills.  Both are not of the hand of God, but of the earthly desire of humanity.

This scripture does not talk about denial but it certainly warns against worry. Even if you are not a slave to wealth, you can quickly operate in the fear of the lack of resources.  It makes us lose our sense of independence and all the responsibility falls upon our shoulders.  Soon we will be, or will be looking for, our scapegoat, and we will lose the ability to dream, vision, and work.

Worry brought George Bailey to the bridge

Worry brought fear to life

Worry did not overpower Jesus

Worry did not show the way

Worry did not feed the poor

We do need to look to God who feeds the birds of the air as well as dresses the lilies of the field. For things such as sustainability and mission, we look to God on earth, which is the Body of Christ, The Church.   So the answer is not simply to say “God will provide,” without realizing we, the church, has been called out of society to provide as our prayers command.

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[1] As per Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer-Boulton

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About Rev. J.C. Mitchell

Pastor, Husband, Father, Theologian, & Motorcyclist. Reads Rene Girard to Baxter Black and everything in between. Theology of disability, non-violent atonement, & the open road are of great interest. Mimetic & Narrative Theories are two respective theories that work throughout his work. Strong dark roast coffee is a wonderful reality God gave us through dancing goats, which JC greatly appreciates. Will work for black licorice.

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