Alfred E. Newman Christianity

Ok, I can already hear the questions. “Alfred E. Newman? Isn’t that the guy from Mad Magazine? What does he have to do with Christianity?” I am so very glad you asked! It’s really just one aspect of Mr. Newman that I’m concerned with, his most famous quote: “What, me worry?”

Yup, this is about worry, or rather about Jesus’ exhortation to not do it:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 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

I’d say Jesus is pretty clear about it, a Christian shouldn’t be a worrier. And if you think about it, why do we worry in the first place? By definition, worry is undue care or anxiety and frankly, for a Christian, pretty much any care or anxiety is undue! After all, think about it for a moment, there are two classes of problems we can worry about: those we can control and those we can’t. Ok, looking at the first class of problems, things we can control; we can control them! Why are we worried about them? It’s kind of pointless if you ask me. If you can control a situation, then do something about it and quit worrying about it!

Alright then, smart guy, what about situations I can’t control? Huh? What about them? Well then, that’s pretty easy too, if you just stop and think about it for a second. If you can’t control a situation, then it’s obviously not your problem. That’s not to say there won’t be consequences that affect you, and you can certainly wonder what those consequences will be. However, as a Christian, we know that there is always Someone in control of every situation and that He has our best interests at heart.

We have to trust that God gives good gifts, that if we ask for bread, He won’t give us a stone. And perhaps that’s the hardest thing of all in our society. We are so used to leaning on our own resources that it’s very difficult to let go of that and let God handle things. I know that I’ve all too often exhausted my own resources before I finally just gave in and let God take over. And I know for a fact that I would have been much better off to turn it over to Him sooner. God doesn’t expect us to deal with the future, that’s His problem, as the last verse of the passage quoted above says, “Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” What He does expect is that we will rely on Him to provide for us, in the manner of His choosing (why He can’t choose to just give me a couple of million dollars to live on I’ll never know!). So, in the end, Alfred E. Newman provides words to live by: “What, me worry?”

7 thoughts on “Alfred E. Newman Christianity”

  1. What is the cure for worry? Faith. Worry is the absence of faith. More correctly, it is the misplacement of faith. We are not trusting in God like we should. Faith is more than just “turning it over to God.” Faith is the abiding confidence that God is sovereign and all we must do is obey Him. All that we can control is our own obedience.

  2. Precisely. But in reality faith is “turning it over to God”. It’s the act of releasing things to God that embodies our faith. Just saying it isn’t good enough, you have to “put your money where your mouth is”. As James says, faith without works is dead; claiming to have faith, yet worrying about things you can’t control is dead faith, good for nothing. We must put our trust in God or we truly do have nothing.

  3. Well said! I’m reminded of the hymn where the chorus goes,
    “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in
    Jesus, but to trust and obey.” People who trust and obey can
    say “What, me worry?”

  4. I have found the substitute for a worry-laden life is good
    preparation. I read scriptures and find no evidence of lives
    lived with a consistent smile on one’s face and some jingle in
    one’s pocket. Rather I see examples of struggle, self-sacrifice
    and even despair at times among those who are following God’s
    call. I am not sure what to make of this scripture from
    Matthew but to season it with the understanding of Phil. 4:4
    and to rejoice in the Lord always.

  5. Bill, I think the essence of this passage is that our preparations and planning are for naught unless we are leaning on God. If we aren’t trusting Him, things will go badly. If we are trusting Him, things may still go badly, but we can have confidence that “God works all things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose” Knowing that God can and will work every situation to our good if only we trust Him is a great stress reliever.

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