Quote

Jesus’ New World

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.

Culture, Discipleship, Grace

Diminished Unhealthy Urgency

This pandemic is changing us. In uncomfortable ways and in some good ways. Let’s focus on the good to get through the difficult.

As I began my day this morning I was contemplating a newer reality for me, something that has taken place especially the last month. Usually I would wake up with a list to conquer, places to be, and an anxious urgency to get it all done. While I still have the same list of tasks the number of places and start times are different. But the anxious urgency has been diminished.

I have the same portfolio of work, and even the same number of meetings (which are virtual or outside at a distance). But the sense of a crushing burden of the week is different. And I am okay with it.

In the last year we saw the publication of numerous books on eliminating hurry as the cure to what ails us but those books often failed to deliver a fulcrum that could bring us into a different way of life. COVID did.

The pandemic, if we allow it to, can shift the things we value and the way we approach life. If we are lost to the idol of politics are self-righteousness there isn’t much hope, but if we start to value our neighbor, our family, even our enemies for the image-bearing souls they are, we might value the time we get with them more. We don’t feel like an intrusion like we used to. We take the time for connection. We learn again what it means to set aside our preference for the other and this is the way we grow.

The pandemic is also changing our pace and what a gift this is. Time is becoming less of a commodity. Even though some days feel like Groundhog’s Day (the movie) we don’t have the same pressure to fill each moment with meaninglessness.

I wonder what other ways the pandemic is shifting the way we live, the way we see the world, and where we place our hopes. For now I thankful for the diminishing of unhealthy urgency.

Worthwhile

Worthwhile December 13, 2019

It’s Friday the thirteenth. Don’t freak out. And if you are already freaking out, chill. Here we are, so close to Christmas. Eagerness is wearing our waiting muscles thin but just around the corner we shall celebrate. Eleven days. We can make it.

Worthwhile this week some good news for the anxious, a new approach to life for success, and singing loud at church. Get some.


Nick Davis has a vital piece on Advent and anxiety. The San Diego pastor is a friend and is acquainted with anxiety. I trust him and the help he provides here is key. He finishes with this prayer:

Father, give us lives that live and breath and move in constant conversation with you. Prayer is the antidote to anxiety. Prayer is Your prescription for a life that lacks trust. Prayer is medicine and balm for a worrisome life.

Help us to trust and rest confidently each day in you. Let us find peace and all security in you, and in you alone. And help us to see that your drawing near to us means all our fears and worries have an expiration date.

That because of Advent, one day soon you are going to do away with all fears and tears, and replace all that with peace, love, and the fullness of joy. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Read it for yourself.


Next up, find your purpose set aside your passion. Based on new Harvard research, Jessica Stillman takes to INC to call those looking toward success to focus their energy and attention on purpose.

Purpose beats passion.

Chasing passion, in other words, tends to make you less satisfied at work because — no huge shocker here — work is often difficult, draining, and even boring. So, are you doomed to simply take whatever job you can do that pays the bills? Nope, replies Jachimowicz. All you need to do is substitute “purpose” for “passion” when considering your path. 

Instead of asking what makes you happy and “following your passion,” instead ask yourself what you care deeply about, he instructs. By focusing on purpose, you align your work with your deepest values, and also relieve yourself of the expectation that the long slog of a career will be all (or even mostly) happiness and sunshine. 

So what’s your purpose? Read more on INC.


Last up this week, as we head into the sining time of year, Brett McCracken call you to sing your heart out. In a repost of a section of his book Uncomfortable, McCracken wants the church, and you, to benefit from worshiping through song together.

“The vitality of a church’s worship depends on members of the body submitting their autonomous freedom and opinionated preferences to the larger community, and ultimately to the Lord. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for discussion and disagreement and compromise when opinions on songs or liturgy clash. But it does mean that in these conflicts we abide by Paul’s Ephesians 5 call to a Christlike posture of service and humility (“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ,” v. 21).”

I agree. So go ahead, sing your heart out with the church. Read it all here. And maybe even pick up his book, it’s great.


There you go. Enjoy the weekend. Rejoice in the Lord. Love people. Live for eternity. Onward.