This post is the fourth part in an ongoing series on The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6.
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A few years ago, there was a massive earthquake in Haiti that made national news for weeks. The body count continued to rise, people were homeless, and families had been torn apart. Practically every international aide organization in the world was coming to lend a hand.
But then there were a few Christian groups who started raising money so that they could airdrop cases of Bibles into Haiti.
Don’t get me wrong; I like Bibles just as much as anybody. I certainly own plenty of them. But the people of Haiti—in that moment—did not need Bibles. They needed food.
Of course, raising this point to the people who were spending thousands of dollars to airdrop the Bibles didn’t see it that way. They would argue that the spiritual needs of people always supersede the physical needs. Why give bread to someone when they really need a Bible?
In Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6—“the Lord’s Prayer”—Jesus spends the first half engaged in talk about what we might categorize as “spiritual” issues. Jesus prays that God’s reputation will become more well-known in the world and that God’s kingdom would somehow crash into this realm. In the first part of this prayer, there are lots of things that represent big ideas—things way beyond human comprehension.
But then, in verse 11, Jesus prays, “Give us today our daily bread.”
Bread is physical. It doesn’t belong in the same category as those big theological ideas about kingdoms and the name of God. It has to do with where a person’s next meal will come from.
So just to reiterate: Jesus’ prayer begins by dealing with big, spiritual language about things that are so big they could never be measured in a lab. But then it gets very basic and physical: he prays that they would receive their daily bread.
Jesus transitions out of these giant ideas down into whether or not we will receive another meal.
Which takes us back to what the people of Haiti really needed after the earthquake.
Do we need to be aware of the bigger questions of existence and eternity and purpose and the massiveness of all reality? Yes. Jesus prays, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Do we also need to be aware of the smaller, physical, detail-oriented parts of everyday life? Yes. Jesus prays, “Give us today our daily bread.”
So is it good to offer Bibles to people?
If they are starving, is it better to offer them food first?
Does God care about the big and the small alike?
There are moments in our lives when the big questions must be asked, and we believe that God is present in those moments. We also believe that Go is interested in the daily details of everyday life.
There is more to life—the eternal, the massive, that which is beyond comprehension. And then there are the details of life—our next meal, our next doctor’s appointment, our next serious phone call. Is God interested in the big stuff or the little stuff?
There is something sacred within the everyday, physical dimensions of life.
When Jesus prays for daily bread, he is acknowledging the sacredness of the small and the physical.
May we do the same.