When the Kingdom Isn’t Enough
In 2Cor. 1:8, Paul writes: For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came [to us] in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life . . . How do you reconcile Paul’s experience with Jesus’ promise, seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added? That’s the subject of chapter 11. Of course, it is much more than the academic discussion of reconciling two biblical passages. It’s all about understanding our own doubts and fears in light of Jesus’ promise and the experience of life.
Did Paul forget Jesus words about worry? How did he reconcile Jesus’ observation about birds that are fed by the Father with his own history of hunger and near-death experiences? Just when you are willing to believe that God will care for your physical needs, you find that he was not speaking literally! (p.127)
Welch teaches that the provision we were promised is spiritual provision. He continues: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now is the time to bury the myth that spiritual means intangible, something only for the by-and-by. The words of God to which Moses pointed, which was the strength Paul found from Christ alone, are spiritual in the sense that they are eternal. The contrast between earthly and spiritual is not a contrast between the tangible and the intangible; it is between the transitory and the eternal (p.127).
One more quote to round out what I believe the author is getting at:
The pattern is this: the Father genuinely cares about the daily needs of his children, and he is constantly caring for us, but he wants this to point us to something better. If we don’t find our life and strength in Jesus Christ, we will go from one worry to the next (p.131).
If I read Welch correctly, he is saying that God will provide physically for his children, but as they become more mature He will? / may? withhold physical provision in order to lead them to the spiritual manna. This spiritual manna is satisfying in the same sense (real, tangible, temporal) as any physical provision only more so.
My own journey
I feel like I’m constantly being yanked back into the kingdom of this world. I don’t want to be possessed by temporal things and I can take elementary steps of stewardship. But then I am forced to make decisions about taking care of my home, and planning for the future, and . . . and . . .
Still, the tension is mostly tolerable until I rub shoulders with people living more on the edge than myself. Then I strain to hear God’s voice and his will. The next step in generosity and stewardship seems like it’s off a cliff.
What exactly does Jesus mean when He says, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish he work