No Easy Answers: Reflections on Matthew 6:24-34
Lectionary Reflections on Matthew 6:24-34
February 27, 2011
A Dialogue Between You and Jesus
Stage Notes: You are present at the Sermon on the Mount and feel emboldened to interrupt Jesus as he attempts to teach. It goes something like this:
Jesus: "You cannot serve God and wealth" (Mt. 6:24b).
You: Why not?
Jesus: "Because no one can serve two masters. A slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other" (6:24a).
You: I don't know if I agree with that or not. It seems overstated.
Jesus: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear."
You: Seriously? Isn't your advice a little naïve? I do need to plan ahead and know where my next meal is coming from and make sure my family is clothed.
Jesus: "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
You: Yes, when you put it that way, but . . .
Jesus: "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (6:26)
You: Yes, but . . .
Jesus: "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?" (6:27)
You: No, I guess not, but . . .
Jesus: And why do you worry about clothing?
You: Well, because I need to be appropriately dressed for various occasions and at least try to be somewhat up to date.
Jesus: "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 clothed like one of these" (6:29).
You: Why do you keep making these nature analogies? Those are flowers. I'm a person.
Jesus: "If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith?" (6:30)
You: It would be nice to think so, but don't you think worry serves a useful function sometimes?
Jesus: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?'" (6:31)
You: All right. I get that you're not going to budge on the worry issue. But tell me this: what am I to do with all that mental free time I used to spend worrying?
Jesus: "Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (6:33).
Jesus used the wrong questioning technique if he wanted to live a long time.
Traditional Rhetorical Questions
If you're like me, your favorite kind of question is the rhetorical kind, the one with the obvious answer you don't have to study for the night before. I call them "duh" questions.
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.