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Matthew

6:25-34

 

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (ESV)

 

 

Nothing But the Word

Tuesday of Advent 1

3 December 2012

Christ's advent changes everything. First, He came in humility, born of virgin mother. At last, He will come to divide the sheep and the goats, while dissolving this world in favor of His eternal kingdom. Both comings imply major changes for the world and those who live in it. Christ's first coming restored to humanity its originally created character by giving us back our true self, renewed after the image of its Creator, Christ (Col 3:10). So the restoration of the image of God is especially the restoration of the image of the Son of God, who as God the Word (Jn 1:3) breathed into man the breath of life (Gn 2:7). What had been spoken on man (Gn 1:26), shaped upon man, and breathed into man (Gn 2:7), was man just as He ought to be; God's son, heir, royal priest, possessor of all, and steward of the world's gifts. God gave the fullness of His own original righteousness without diminishment to it or to Himself, for generosity never reduces the giver of a gift. God the Word gave of Himself kissing into life the dust-formed being. By reason of the failure of the first Adam, the second Adam must step in remaking humanity in His image and likeness, giving back to it that righteousness which is now His alone, but now given as a gift to His fallen creation (Rm 5:18-19).

 

The breath of the Lord can also destroy, setting ablaze that upon which it is directed, "the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it." The breath of the Lord brings judgment (Is 30:33). So the One who gave Adam the breath of life will return,  after restoring his nature after the image of its Creator, and bring judgment upon the world. Then we will receive the fullness of that restoration that Christ merited for us and gives to us in baptism. What a difference that makes for us, who now are struggling in the battle with our own fallen self (Rm 7:16-21), feeling the burdens of the holy cross (Mt 16:24-25), and struggling against our ancient enemy (Eph 6:12). All will come to its fruition and rightful end when the Lord returns to vindicate the faithful and completely fulfill His promises to them.

 

For now this simplifies how the faithful live. All things are ours (1Co 3:21); even if our precious possessions are not yet seen, our exaltation hidden by the humility of the cross, our defeat at the hands of our enemy seems imminent, and our fallen nature continues to bite us. Yet they are ours and we are in need of nothing more, if they are. If the Lord has given us the fullness of His blessings no preparation is necessary. Christianity is not an enormous logistical undertaking (Lk 14:31). All is done by God in His Son Christ. What anxiety could possibly defeat Him or overcome His work on our behalf? The peace and love that come from Christ, what Clement of Alexandria calls the simple and quiet sisters, needs no preparation; no spinning and no toil make them. We have no need of anything but the Word of God. It will sustain us.

 

Clement of Alexandria

 

"Christ Himself formed man of the dust, and regenerated him by water. He made him grow by his Spirit and trained him by His word to adoption and salvation, directing him by sacred precepts. And in order that, transforming earth-born man into a holy and heavenly being by His advent, He might fulfill to the utmost that divine utterance, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Gn 1:26). Christ truly became the perfect realization of what God spoke; and the rest of humanity is conceived as being created merely in His image.

 

"But let us, O children of the good Father, nurslings of the good Instructor Jesus, fulfill the Father's will, listen to the Word, and take on the impression of the truly saving life of our Savior. Let us meditate on the heavenly mode of life according to which we have been made like Him, let us anoint ourselves with the perennial immortal bloom of gladness, that ointment of sweet fragrance, having a clear example of immortality in the walk and conversation of the Lord. Let us follow the footsteps of God, to whom alone it belongs to consider, and whose care it is to see to, the way and manner in which the life of men may be made more healthy. Besides, He makes preparation for a self-sufficing mode of life, for simplicity, and for girding up our loins, and for free and unimpeded readiness of our journey, in order to attain an eternity of blessing, teaching each one of us to be his own storehouse. For Jesus says, 'Do not be anxious about tomorrow' (Mt 6:34), meaning that the man who has devoted himself to Him ought to be sufficient to himself, and servant to himself, and moreover lead a life which provides for each day by itself. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love, simple and quiet sisters, require no arms or great preparation. The Word sustains them."  

 

Clement of Alexandria, 
Paedagogos, 12
 
 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we depend on you for our simple life; a life freed from anxiety by You. Help us to trust Your Word to sustain us. Amen.

 

For Matthias Francisco Samper, newborn child of Reena and Carlos Samper, that they would be kept and safe and be given much joy

 

For Brenda Stancik, that the Lord Jesus would grant her a full recovery from neck surgery

 

For those who are anxious about that which does not save, that the Lord Jesus would free them from their anxieties

Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der  Annunciation Triptych  (c. 1440)

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