your Father's good pleasure

Do not seek what you are to eat
and what you are to drink,
nor be of anxious mind.
For all the nations of the world seek these things;
and your Father knows that you need them.

Instead seek God's kingdom,
and these things will be yours as well.
Lk 12.29-31

I have often been inspired by these words of Jesus. Not just for their comfort in anxiety, but also for the single-minded life they describe, and their completely revolutionary vision. Almost unimaginable. "Seek God's kingdom, and these things will be yours as well."

The only way I could imagine what this might look like was to interpret "seeking God's kingdom" as some kind of religious or charitable work. As if Jesus was saying if we devote ourselves to good, charitable work, we can count on other people to provide for our needs. Because that often does happen. But I also know there are many charity workers struggling to raise financial support for their work, who would question Jesus' assurances. And this vision actually isn't that unique or inspiring, is it? It basically leaves us in the usual situation of having to find and continue to provide a service that people are willing to pay for, with all the anxiety and divided motivations of any other profession.

That interpretation also leaves us thinking that we have to be doing work that deserves the support we receive. Even if we succeed in this, that's not a very good way to be thinking and living, from a spiritual perspective.

And, on second (or a hundred and second) look, it's actually foreign to the thrust of Jesus' words here (and elsewhere). He says don't be anxious. Don't be like the rest of the world. Our Father knows our needs, our Father who knows how to give us good gifts. And Jesus doesn't say do worthy, respected charitable work. He says "seek God's kingdom." Then his next sentence after this passage is, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

So it seems my initial assumption is clearly not what Jesus was saying. He's calling us to believe in and desire and pursue what God wants to give us. Something more important than food and drink and clothing (but he also says those will be given to us as well).

There's nothing in Jesus' promise here about what we should offer to God. Nothing about what work we must do. Nothing about what we can offer anyone at all. "Seek God's kingdom" is not about what we can give. It's about what God gives. "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." At Christmas we often hear about how giving is better than receiving. But Jesus teaches that life is about learning to receive from God.


A breath of relief,
her eyes on the child, knowing
our God has done it

(previous year's haikus here)