“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 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. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [Matthew 6:25–34].
The New Testament mentions the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God numerous times. However, in actuality, it discloses very little about what the kingdom of God is, whereas it tells us a lot about the conditions for entering the kingdom.
It is, in fact, impossible to maintain an image of the kingdom of God, since the kingdom is a complete realization. We understand that it has something to do with the true meaning of love: love as a complete, all-consuming principle. We also understand that the kingdom has a lot to do with the unity of father and son, or father and child. But we also read that even to enter the kingdom, you must first be a child. Moreover, you must be completely poor, inwardly and outwardly, and you must possess a totally unwavering belief.
Last, we learn that Jesus is the door. Jesus is not the kingdom; he is the door leading to the kingdom. And according to Jesus himself, by being crucified, he became this door.
The quote at the beginning of this article follows a parable that is provided by Jesus to his disciples. The parable is about a rich person who is fool enough to think that by saving for the future and building his life gradually and safely – by accomplishing physical stability – he will finally achieve a lasting peace of mind. Jesus, however, points out that this person, like all of us, stands on a groundless ground. There is no future, and thus, there can be no safe building. In reality, you carefully build your life toward nowhere. At the same time, the kingdom cannot be discovered in gradual steps: it is either now or never.
Based on this parable, Jesus tells us not to worry about our life, since life is more than food and clothes. For Jesus, the meaning of the term ‘life’ is very different from the ordinary conception of life. Life is not the visible manifestation but rather the all-animating force, the force that makes the manifestation possible. Therefore, if we want to feel truly alive, we will not find this sense of aliveness in life’s manifestation.
Jesus challenges us by asking: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Jesus’ question also has a practical dimension. We know that worry hasn’t helped us much. Of course, sometimes it has helped us to be a little more cautious or calculated, but you can also be cautious or calculated without worry.
Nevertheless, there is more than just this practical dimension. Here we are entering the deepest sense of being a child. A child rarely thinks about the future. Children either lack the capacity of thinking about the future or trust their parents to think about these things while they can remain children. Jesus says that the first indication of being a child is renouncing this sense of worry altogether. So, can we be these children?
This is another feature of the perfect disciple of Jesus: one who does nothing of his or her own accord. For the true Christian, only the father does, whereas the son is forever a non-doer. For example, as far as Jesus was concerned, he did not perform any of his miracles. He never considered himself a miracle maker. He only carried out what he felt he was allowed and enabled to carry out. So, being in God’s kingdom is a state of complete alignment with the all-animating force: you do nothing, you have nothing of your own, and you are nothing.
The sense of being a doer – the belief that we are the doers in our life – is the key. The concept of being the doer is the feeling that prevents us from being children and keeps us worried. Worry indicates that we don’t have this perfect trust and perfect alignment. Even when Jesus supposedly asks God, just before he is taken to prison, to remove the fate of his crucifixion, he immediately adds: only if this is your will. He is not begging for this fate to be removed, but only asking whether this change of fate might be a part of being aligned with the Father.
Feel how you can actually peel this layer of worry from your heart. Worry clouds the heart. The presence of worry also implies that you depend on the future to be able to trust and to be perfectly content. It is as if you are telling God: I will calm down and trust only if I know that things will unfold in an ideal way. Jesus came to restore, or even create, this sense of God as love rather than as a punisher. Trusting that God is love, can you remove this layer of worry from your heart?
Thus, this insight can be realized by both your intelligent mind and your wise heart. Your intelligent mind can show you that by worrying you cannot add even a single hour to your life. It can show you not only that your trust is conditional but also that it can never be satisfied. Your wise heart, on the other hand, whispers that by removing worry, you finally agree to be a true child of God, or, more simply, you finally agree to be a child.
The child, I believe, is the most definitive and profound description of a Christian disciple. Moreover, becoming a child is the ultimate type of soul-purification in Christianity. Thus, if you are a genuine child, the kingdom opens to you at that very moment.
We have all become adults in the most terrible sense of the term: so serious, calculative, worried, anxious, clinging, attached, and fearful. As a result, there is a dark spot on our heart; it is covered by a dark cloud. Jesus asks us to look at this calculative tendency of our mind and to acknowledge the fact that it is practically useless and foolish. Before anything else, it is an irrational strategy for life. The only thing that you get as a result of this strategy is an agitated mind and a complete and final loss of touch with the kingdom. So first, Jesus appeals to our wisdom, and then he appeals to our heart.
We know very well that most Christians nowadays don’t look very much like children. They tend to ignore the heart of the teachings. This is understandable: being a Christian is the simplest and the hardest thing to do: having a childlike, trusting heart that holds on to nothing. For Jesus, poverty starts not just with getting rid of all your material possessions but with being poor at heart. Jesus turns the duality of richness and poverty upside down: being poor is being rich, because you have the only thing that your heart ever seeks, which is the kingdom. On the other hand, being rich is being poor because you are going to lose even what you have while wasting your life on being separate – an adult that has detached from the kingdom.
Try to cultivate this sense of poverty in the heart. This starts by renouncing worry.
If you attain a state of absolute poverty and a childlike heart, you realize that the kingdom is actually already here. This is the meaning of Jesus’ statement that the kingdom is spread out upon the earth but people do not see it. Why can’t we see it? Why can’t we see that God is everywhere? Why can’t we see that we are in the kingdom right now? The problem lies in the seer, not in the seen: the kingdom is here, but we just have too much that blurs the vision of our heart.