Sermon on the Mount, Tenth

I did not finish the Sermon on the Mount before Christmas time arrived. I’ve added the tag Sm.Mt. that you can click on to read the rest of my reflections on the topic. I left off just before Jesus’ riff that is either existentialist or an answer to existentialism. I’m talking about Matthew 6:19-34. Here are some excerpts:

I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
. . . .
do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

According to Wikipedia (because I’m too lazy to go read Kierkegaard), In Repetition, Kierkegaard’s literary character Young Man laments:

How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it and why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn’t it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?

I think Jesus’ answer is don’t worry so much. You like the birds are here to experience life. And to the planners and rationale thinkers, Jesus seems to be saying you’re missing the boat too. It is all about the now.

This may be a selective reading of the passage. I understand the kingdom of heaven to mean participation in the eternal kingdom that was present in Jesus’ day and is present still, that is living in the Way. So, when the passage for today’s consideration says,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I take that to mean worrying about how much money is a waste of time, you should worry about the present joy you have in living the good life. One could read this as a promise for future reward for the faithful.

What do you think? Is Jesus telling the listeners to follow him for future benefit? Doesn’t that seem inconsistent with the passage about today & tomorrow?

3 replies on “Sermon on the Mount, Tenth”

I see the initial today/tomorrow advice to be hopelessly rooted in the day-to-day realities of the 1st (or so) century. Given the modern world’s economies, one can reasonably secure their future. Advising against that is irresponsible unless you are specifically recommending Earthly suffering as a virtue.

Placing your treasure above worldly concerns certainly seems like a good idea.

Awesome! We have arrived at our first real value difference that I think can certainly be traced to my religion.

You write, Given the modern world’s economies, one can reasonably secure their future.

I disagree. I think that putting your hope in economic security is building your house upon the sand. I think it is more risking than trusting in God.

It almost, but not quite, goes without saying, that I don’t think we should be reckless. We should not put ourselves in harms way. Likewise, Matt knows that economic security alone cannot make you happy. This isn’t about the extremes, but I think it is a difference worth exploring.

I think it is a exciting point of divergence.

I’m stuck a bit on what the difference is that you’re seeing.

Can we guarantee a financially secure future? Never 100%, but I would argue that the difference between the future of my 6 year-old son and the 6 year-old son of a 1st century fisherman’s son is so great as to be a complete step-change.

Do you not agree?

Leave a Reply