As a 1st world believer now living in a 3rd world I have been struck by how some scriptures don’t at all seem relevant to my life. Yet the fact that they are not relevant actually frees me up to lay hold of other scriptural admonitions with greater “gusto.” For example in Matthew 6:31-33 we read, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I don’t know about you, but growing up in the 1st world of America I never once deliberated between patching my old clothes or buying new ones. I never once worried about where my next meal would come from, or where I would manage to find clean water. Yet here we find Jesus promising that if we seek God’s Kingdom above all else all these basic needs of life and survival will be provided for. But what if all your basic survival needs are already provided for in virtue of the fact you live in a country where such needs are met by default? For even the poorest of the poor in America don’t starve or worry about water.
The more I ponder it the more I have come to believe that those who are fortunate enough to have been blessed with the proverbial “10 talents” of privileged life in a 1st world country are uniquely situated in life to seek after God’s kingdom and touch this world in ways not afforded to others. In other words their faith is “freed up” to be exercised– not towards the meeting of personal survival needs– but for greater, other-centered causes. Oddly enough, not just their faith but also their worry is liberated to take on greater “stresses” and challenges in life. For the passage above says, “Don’t worry about food… drink and clothes.”
Thus if such basic needs lie outside the orbit of what one would normally worry about, then one is free to “worry” about bigger issues. Obviously we know God would not want us to be “anxious about anything, but… present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). But that is the point. What if one’s “requests to God” don’t have to be concerned with day-to-day needs? Would this not “free up” their faith to ask for greater things?
Indeed it would. Persons of faith who are fortunate enough to live in 1st world context have an availability of greater options to exercise their faith towards–options that go way beyond their own personal basic needs such as food, water, clothes and shelter. As such trusting God and seeking first His Kingdom can envelope a sphere of action and mission towards others that goes far beyond one’s own survival.
Unfortunately many in the 1st world completely miss out on this exciting adventure of faith because they utterly fail to capture the fact that their distinctive context affords them a freedom and liberty to be other—centered and flex their faith “muscle” on behalf of people currently suffocating under the weight of world that offers no hope and no mercy—unless it come by way of another. Whose to say you can’t be that “another” someone needs?