33Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The Christianity that I grew up with was always looking to the future. “When the roll is called up yonder…” we sang, looking to the day when we’ll fly away after marching up to Zion. The orientation was always looking toward that final day, the culmination of what God will do at the end of time.
And yet, Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount is more focused on life in the here and now than in what’s to come. Yes, the treasures and accolades we’re to focus on are “heavenly’ (vs. 20) but Jesus’s concern is not that we are gathering these spiritual merits for a future time, but rather than we are connecting with the heavenly realm right now, here on earth as it is in heaven. The treasure we are to seek is God’s righteousness. Everything else is gravy, Jesus suggests. The only thing really matters is locating ourselves in the kingdom and righteousness of God — and that is found not in the future, but right here among us.
Jesus is calling us to live in the now, something that has been absent in much of Western evangelical thought and practice. The future’s going to happen and we should prepare, but what matters as much is how we live our lives now. We can cast off the worries about what is to come in our attempt to pay attention to where we are right now. Jesus offers a Christian expression of what the Buddhist’s call mindfulness — the notion that we need to sit up and pay attention to the world around us in the here and now so that we don’t miss God’s beauty and grace as we move into the future.
As a worrier by nature, this teaching is freeing for it reminds me that more often than not, my worrying about future issues was often fruitless and led to wasted energy and a loss of awareness regarding what God was doing in my life. Christ reminds me that worry about the future can be cast aside for we have enough to deal with in the moment.
O God, help me to cast aside my worries about tomorrow and to live fully in the now.