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.

Discipleship, Grace

Hunting for Resiliency

In the States we have merely two weeks under our belts of “stay at home” orders as we watch the COVID-19 pandemic spread. It begins by showing up places we have been, then it reaches people we know.

Fear, grief, uncertainty are all the order of the day. Striking among it all is the lack of resiliency in our systems and even our own lives. One author mentioned it on a recent podcast and I have been contemplating it since the fateful Friday a couple of weeks ago when schools closed and our lives were set for change.

Restaurants, always run on the slimmest of margins, are devastated. More than 3 million people applied for unemployment in the first week alone. The sky has fallen on the economy and our health systems warn of overwhelming.

Nothing is resilient. And I don’t say this thinking I have everyone bettered, I too live from paycheck to paycheck with little margin. I get the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown.

Perhaps, given the lack of resiliency, what we need is not a return to “normal” but a path to resiliency. Transformed economic systems. The way we do life and business. Shifts in education.

While that is a refrain we are hearing more often, that transformation is some days away. We could use some resiliency now.

Enter the King. Jesus.

The anchor that is meant to keep believers. To grant hope. To hold us through the most difficult of storms. His resiliency making us resilient.

Can I introduce you to him?

That ache for something more is an ache for him. Your Creator. The One who holds the universe together and works his purpose even through our times. He is the resolution to the pain of disregard for God. The ways you have rejected him because you have preferred to remain on the “throne” of your life. When we are ready to give that up, to surrender to his authority, we are welcomed home in him. Identity, belonging, purpose come from him.

We now have a place to bring our tears our insecurity and find hope instead. Resiliency.

The author of the book of Hebrews in the Bible, in talking about lesser things being stripped away in life, says this of our place now in Christ:

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28–29 (ESV)

In Jesus we have received a kingdom that doesn’t shake. It doesn’t face ruin. It is resilient. Because of that we can worship, give our attention and admiration over to God. He is bringing all things under his authority and glory.

Run to Jesus. That he will secure us in his resiliency and lend it to us.