"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don't worry about these things, saying 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
Jesus must have known these words are tough, right? I mean, how often do we live with such mindful dependence and thorough trust--such audacious faith? It's a new life-order being prompted here. The Kingdom of God above all else--that's a new kind of living.
I've been (re)discovering why living in the city can have an "exhausting effect" on me. Any place--city or not--requires that we make certain kinds of ethical decisions, etc. every day. But the thing about the city, I find, is that there are so many decisions that revolve around wealth/possessions/material "collection," if you will. I mean, think about it--so much condensed into one place: bill-boards, street advertisements, stores row after row and on top of each other, thousands of people to see, watch, compare, judge, and desire. There is so much more in one place to tempt us to need, want, pursue, believe. I guess I'm also becoming more and more convinced (in general) that the way we live now, with such advances in technology and mass-media, is opening itself up to harder decision-making about what is good and right and true. In the city (my opinion), it's felt more on some days than others as something of a bombardment. The danger, I've found, is running the risk of becoming immune to it all--mindlessly succumbing to a way of life I never "agreed to" in the first place.
For example, I am the grateful recipient of a free month-long membership to a local gym. The family I work for had the coupon but wasn't going to use it. Sweet! I got a free temporary membership to an awesome gym. It took me almost a month to get past the intimidating exterior and just go in. So I did, yesterday, and I got a tour of the place. It's under new management and in the middle of a huge remodel but it's great. I'm really excited about it. I said something while we were in the cafe/wireless hot-spot (that overlooks the tennis courts) like "wow, this is nice!" to which my generous tour-guide responded, "Oh, this is nothing. It's going to be so much better." Oh, well, it looks pretty nice to me...
After the tour, we sat at a table and went over the paper work together. I asked him what a month would cost me without the free coupon, "$81.00." Cool, I thought, maybe I'll consider it after this free month is up. Then I got outside and THEN my head cleared, $81.00 a month?! And that's only for me because I am still considered "young adult" (discounted). I don't HAVE $81.00 a month to spend at a gym. But for a minute or two, I actually believed that it was 1. feasible 2. a potentially good idea. Here's the thing...I have nothing against gyms or paying to workout (although, it's always been a difficult concept for me to swallow. However, enter: Chicago living, where it is winter 6 months out of the year. Good luck doing anything outside but surviving :)). I take issue, though, with lifestyles that begin to think carelessly about where money comes from and where/why it "goes out." And, ashamedly, I confess that this is me right now. And this, in part, is why I feel so exhausted with city life. Maybe it's the people I am around more often than others--those that have more money than they know what to do with (or are spending money they don't have); those who plunk a pretty penny down for things like diet get-aways and the hottest new arrivals at those Boutiques I can't pronounce the names of. Maybe I am just tired of discovering new clothing lines that I never knew existed...or beauty techniques I spent 24 years in ignorance of...and tired of feeling like I should care about these things...
When there is so much going on around us--so much vying our time, energy, and investment--choices are made constantly, sometimes without thinking. I don't like this feeling. It makes me think that someone/something else is master of things, not that Kingdom of God way of life, where things are upside down (the poor are rich and the first are last but all are faithfully loved).
[Note: I would just like to say that, while certain of my nanny experiences have put me in places where I interact with and observe some of these "harder to swallow" ways-of-life, I am very blessed to be working for a family who devotes time and energy to people and places of genuine need. There is no attitude of entitlement from them towards me or anyone else, as I observe. They are a really wonderful family and I, while living in a bit of a different world, count it a privilege to work for them. I also count it a blessing to learn with and from them that what binds us together as people are not material things but base-level realities of inherent worth, dignity, and value. This I love discovering. This I work to live.]