Sunday, August 23, 2009

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

For Christians that read this blog, I want to ask what may sound like a basic question, but I think it goes deeper than that. More than that, I wanted to ask -- if you're willing to share -- how you specifically go about it in your life.

In Matthew 6 (sermon on the mount), Jesus is talking about worry, more precisely, not worrying about your life, what you're going to eat, drink, or wear. He ends this part of the discussion by telling his audience not to worry about tomorrow; live this day. In the middle of all that, Jesus drops this famous bomb in verse 33:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

The question is: what does it mean to you to seek God (or the Kingdom of God) first, and how do you practically go about that in your personal life?

Here's a thing. I'd like, if we can, for our answers to be understandable to anyone reading. So let's say one hypothetical answer a person might give for seeking God first is: dependence on Him in everything (or total surrender to God's Will). That's what it says in my NIV Study Bible Rolleye Smileys. Well, even as a Christian, I sometimes don't understand that terminology or how one might go about that. For example, do I depend on God in finding a job? I'm enough of a nay-sayer, I suppose, to ask, if one claims he/she is totally dependent on God, why go to an interview? Just talk to God, believe in Him, and wait for the company's phone call because He'll let that job drop in your lap. But, of course, that's not the way God or the world works. So, again, let's discuss the question in practical terms as much as we care to knock it around. I do think it's an important question, and it's likely more confusing than a Christian might think from the outside looking in.

Hope that makes sense, because I don't want to scare folks off from answering the question. Thanks, guys!

5 comments:

Milly said...

and it's likely more confusing than a Christian might think from the outside looking in.

I think it's a bit, well not so confusing, but daunting for us Christians.

Do I ask God to intervene for even decision every time?

Then blame would go to God for every mistake.

So no I don’t ask Him to pick my nail polish out.

I’m having trouble giving it to Him these days.

I know the facts. I’ve read the studies and I’m preparing for the worst. I have to think that He is giving me preparation He is giving me the facts of this cancer that my sister has and He is holding me up. He is telling me to not be so fearful of tomorrow because He is going to be before me, beside me, and behind me. He is going to light my path, hold my hand, and catch me when I fall.

Do I worry about tomorrow?

Yes

I have a sister with the very rare Alveolar cancer. I am a single parent with bills to pay. I’m still dealing with a verbally abusive ex.

But at the end of the night I have His arms to hold me. At the end of the night I give it to Him to lead me for another day.

And He does. . . . .when I follow.

DugALug said...

Wow Rich! This is such a great question.

To me this verse says something very simple. Be Kingdom minded. Jesus was big into this kingdom thing.

In Matt 4, Jesus tells us to "repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand", which also happens to be the call of John the Baptist (See Matt 3).

In fact, if you look in the Gospel of Matthew alone, Jesus makes over 40 references to the "Kingdom of heaven".

Then there is this telling statement in Mark: "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,"

Often Jesus is telling parables that say 'The Kingdom of heaven is like...'

To me Jesus is simply saying apply God's principals to your life. We know, based on John's vision in Revelation, that one of the primary things that will be done in Heaven is the unwavering worship of God. We also know that strife, anger, prejudice, slander, and other forms of malice will cease to be.

Jesus is saying bring this mindset here to earth, and there will be immediate blessings here on earth too. I want to say, that I haven't really heard a teaching on this, but this is my wholehearted belief in the beauty of God's Word.

I believe that God wrote the Bible on two primary levels: a natural and a spiritual. Many of the Proverbs apply to mankind, not just to 'believers'. They give keen insight into the way God designed the world. Let's take one in particular: giving. Is it better to give than to receive? Something is unleashed supernaturally when we choose to give, and I don't think that this just applies to Jews and Christians. I think that the God of the universe designed it to be this way.

The 10 commandments weren't written as Laws to enslave God's people, they were insight into the ways in which man could peacefully live with God and each other. God is amazingly practical. Even the dietary laws were there to protect His children: pork is a real bad idea if you can't cook it hot enough. God knew this and He passed this information onto those who would listen.

To me, this flips the purpose of the Law on its head (as taught by many religious groups): The Law wasn't written for us to serve God, it was written as God serving us (as in sharing His wisdom, insight, and love). He loved us too much to let us stumble in the dark as to the real ways of His created universe.

Now taking this idea and applying to the original question: what is the practical application of seeking the Kingdom Of God? It means to me that we should:

1) Adopt and attitude of worship for our Lord.

2) Look at others as God looks at them, and have compassion on their situation.

3) Be in contact with God, through prayer, meditation, the listening to the Holy Spirit, and the study of His word.

4) Live your life in accordance with God's teachings.

5) Continue to grow in your understanding of who God really is.

6) Love, love, love, love, love... and when your are done with that... love some more.

7) Forgive others, and seek forgiveness: without strings or expectation for the other party.

8) Walk humbly

9) Seek His righteousness

10) To be obedient and submissive to His calling

11) To be thankful for His redemption in your life, and all of His creation, providence, and insight

12) To share His heart with those around you.

There's more, but I've already written way too much.

I hope this makes sense.

God Bless
Doug

Rich said...

Milly,

Thanks for being so honest and open. Can't tell you how much that means - I like reading works where authors/writers open a vein and let it bleed onto a page, and then, not sure if this is going to come out right, but I get so much out of people sharing, like you've done here, when what's written is so open and vulnerable.

I really, really appreciate that, and just know that YOU ARE LOVED. I can't say I know all the realities of a loved one being wrought with cancer, but I do remember being with my grandfather as he was dying in the hospital and asking for me to feed him ice chips because his throat was dry and listening to him groan in pain during the nights. It's tough, tough stuff. I'm still hoping for your sister and praying for a turnaround. And I know it isn't easy for you, nor for her. Also, prayers for a spirit of peace for your former husband. That's gut-wrenching, and it's a road that looks like it's going thru a slow, dark tunnel with no end, I know.

Rich said...

Doug,

Great answer(s). I especially can identify with #s 2, 6, 7, 8, and 11. That's not to say I'm even good with any of those - just when I'm thinking about seeking first His Kingdom, His Kingdom, to me, seems all about: others first.

Jesus' whole vocation seems like that to me. God putting Himself on the Cross for everyone else. Then, Jesus' healings, cleansings, discussions with disciples, encounters with people (i.e. woman at the well, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, etc.), and so many parables (Prodigal Son/Father, Good Samaritan, etc.) all show the Kingdom of God, which Jesus ushered in with His coming, as a kingdom all about putting others' needs before your own.

Essentially, be (as close as you can to being) Jesus to others. And not that you're doing it for this reason, but when you do that, it sort of works out that you're doing it to Jesus (i.e. whenever you gave a cup of water to the least of these...).

And then I agree that prayer, Bible study, a genuine thirst for Who God is (all things I'm so, so deficient at) are very important because if we try to do anything in our own power, we've set ourselves up to fail. Again, not that I don't try and sometimes even try to take credit for "good" achievements/works I've accomplished. When that happens, I always need to go back to your # 8. I'm fairly certain that somewhere in the Scriptures it says that walking humbly and fear of the Lord, that is "religion" that God accepts. Plus, when you walk humbly before God and others, and I don't necessarily mean being a doormat, generally you get along with others much better. If everyone could do that, the world would be such a different place...

...which is kind of the point.

Milly said...

Thank you Rich,
I'm ok all in all.