Matthew 6: 25-26 – “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 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?”
This what I call one of those verses that has “technically speaking” issues. Technically speaking you could say God feeds the birds of the air…in order to feed the beasts of the fields. It’s a twisted game if there is actually a god. I was reminded of this cartoon driving home yesterday when I saw a dead robin by the side of the road. I guess by its own stupidity it may have run into a car. Not a god’s fault, but other memories came back from when I was kid. I used to try to save birds after they had been attacked by cats. Rarely did they ever survive. Baby birds were the most vunerable. We found one still alive in our cat’s mouth.
In the wild, birds eat and fatten themselves up and then are hunted–sometimes by other birds. And birds starve! So Jesus’ message is hardly reassuring. You’ll also notice that he encourages poor judgment as we should not be concerned about our physical needs or prepare for them (in a bad economy this is the worst advice ever). Feel free to pray for all your needs and then do nothing but wait for food, drink and clothing to come. Most people go out and get what they need instead of waiting for God. Even Christians who say God answered their prayers, if you see how much work they did for that “prayer” you have to wonder if God was involved at all? There’s no distinction between the hard working atheist who meets his/her needs and the hard working Christian who meets his/her needs. At best you could say there is an element of luck, and it happens on both sides. We also consider people who do not plan and save for their future to be stupid and lazy.
Ironically, the homeless people who pray are the ones who show that Jesus’ advice is poorly given. Christian conservatives despise them for their lack of work ethic and yet they are taking to heart the message that life is more than physical needs. They get enough food, drink and clothing to survive on “prayer”–but who wants to just survive? I guess if you’re in spiritual bliss it makes sense, but I like my home, my food, my drink and picking out clothes on occasion. And I like giving these things to the homeless as I think mankind should take care of its own. The gods be damned!
SIDENOTE: I would say most homeless people in the United States usually have mental problems or substance abuse issues, so when I refer to homeless I’m referring to the idealized version. The idea that you don’t worry about rent, bills, etc and you’re carefree with a knapsack tied to a stick. When you need to eat God throws you a bucket of chicken and when you need to sleep there’s a soft, grassy field on a summer night. In actuality, being homeless is a horrible way to have to live. Just as the birds of the air are not really taken care of, so too the homeless often die of exposure to weather or are preyed on by others.