As new rounds of lockdowns come amid increasing pandemic rates and hospitalizations, this long quote from Peter Leithart’s commentary on Matthew’s gospel gave me hope. Specifically it touches on the themes in the Sermon on the Mount of treasuring and trusting God.
“A new kingdom and a new king are being heralded in the midst of the corruptions of worldly kingdoms, a new city in the midst of the old cities. The Old City is a city of anxiety. For Jesus, anxiety is not just a feeling or emotion that we privately experience. It is that. But it is also the organizing principle of a world, a structure and a regime, a master and a power. Anxiety is the ether of the world outside the kingdom of God. Anxiety keeps the stores open 24/7. Anxiety keeps the highways busy until the wee hours of the morning. Anxiety keeps people working late at the office. Anxiety is what builds the skyscrapers. Anxiety is what drives consumer spending.
“Anxiety is driven by a very simple insight, the insight that we are limited creatures, and the particular fact that the future sets the boundary of our limitations. We cannot see past the next moment, much less the next day or next month. Yet we want to be able to manage things. We want to secure our future. We want to be able to manage things. We want to secure our future. We want to know something about what we will eat, drink, wear, do next year, five years, ten years. We want to know that our portfolio will still be expanding, our children will still be living nearby, we will still have a spouse. And we can’t. If you know that you can’t manage the future, and yet you try to manage the future, there can be only one result: anxiety. This is the way of the world, and it’s what drives the Gentiles to “eagerly seek” food, clothing, drink, success, and all the rest.
“Jesus invites us into a new world. Jesus announces the kingdom, which, in essence, means announcing God’s future, and the future of God. Jesus comes announcing that the future is arriving. God intends to rule over all things, and He is beginning to rule over all things now. He intends to set Jesus on the throne over the whole cosmos, and He’s beginning to do that now. He’s going to defeat evil and put His world back together, and He’s beginning to do that now. The future is arriving, and the future is secure in God’s hands. He is the God of the future, and He is establishing His future in the present. And the kingdom which is God’s future world arriving in the present is not driven by anxiety but by trust, because within this kingdom we know that the future is secure. We know that God has everything under control. We know that God is our heavenly Father who will care for us.”
-Peter Leithart, The Gospel of Matthew Through New Eyes, Jesus as Israel.