Hakuna Matata is back in the new Lion King movie, but with a twist. “It means no worries.” Why not? The twist is the discussion between Pumbaa and Timon about whether life is just a line ending at death. Don’t worry; life is meaningless. Or is it circle of life where events meaningfully affect others? This latter is illustrated with a tuft of Simba’s fur cycling through natural processes back to the pride.
When asked what people worry about, common answers include health and money. I find security in money. But there never seems to be enough, and I feel guilty about how I spend it. I’ve learned how to save money, not how to use it.
In 1992 Notorious B.I.G. sang “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” paraphrasing Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish leader soon after Jesus, who said, “The more possessions, the more care.” In 1973 the O’Jays sang “For the Love of Money,” people will steal from their mothers, cheat, sell their bodies and change their principles. This was the theme song for Trump’s Apprentice TV show.
Jesus addresses money worries in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:24-34. Most translations break between verses 24 and 25, but verse 25 starts with a “therefore,” the implication of the principle that “No one can serve two masters.” Jesus applies this to our lives. God on one side; the world on the other.
Jesus uses an unusual word for the world. The NIV translates it as “money.” Older translations copied it as “mammon.” It means the things, the possessions of this world. The word might be connected to the Hebrew word “amen,” that which you trust. We cannot trust both God and our stuff.
Jesus does not say, “don’t do this.” He says we cannot do this. It’s impossible. This is the root of worry, trying to do the impossible. The Greek word Jesus uses for worry related to being torn in two, divided, double-minded, going two directions at once. This is like our word “anxiety.” We are divided in our loyalty, drawn to worship different masters.
Jesus calls us to look at a bigger picture, at the wonders of all creation. The Lion King is in part right. Look at the circle of life. What The Lion King misses is God. Disney theology is a spiritual naturalism. Nature interacts. There are evil forces, like Scar and the hyenas, but they are overcome by the powers of natural good.
Is life a meaningless line that just ends? Is life a naturalistic circle of forces? Is life a human lionesque struggle to conquer evil? Seeing a creator at work in the process changes the worldview. Jesus adds more to the picture. There is a caring creator. God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers. God is “our heavenly Father.”
“Don’t worry, be happy.” Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, not the ruling power of Scar nor the violent overthrow by Simba. Practice charity, giving. We are stewards.
Jesus adds immediacy. We might think we will be more generous later and have reasons to save now. But Jesus says we do not control the future. We do not determine the length of our lives. No amount of money will make us secure.
There are needs now. You have resources to use now. This does not mean to be foolish or fail to plan, but do not live only for the future. Use what you have today. Trust God for tomorrow.
How can we practically do this? In the Lord’s Prayer we start with “Our Father;” then “your kingdom,” “your will;” then “give;” then “forgive.”
From “His Eye is on the Sparrow”:
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
for his eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.
“It means no worries, for the rest of your days.” Hakuna Matata.