Seek First the Kingdom of GodMarch 1st, 2012 by Oleg Kostyuk
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mat. 6:33)
Jesus encourages us to pursue the righteous and just priorities of the kingdom of God. Then our physical needs will be looked after.
However, there is a problem in the understanding of this verse. Many Christians, and this is just my personal assumption, have not had this promise fulfilled in their experiences in this life. Most of the time this promise is treated as entirely eschatological or relating only to the future.
We need to remember, that this verse belongs to a wider passage (Mat. 6:25-34) that deals with anxiety. In this very passage the phrase, “do not worry” is used three times. So, if it is used so often then there is a BIG lesson for us: “stop worrying!” Easier said than done, right? I have to admit, I do worry often. But as Vick said on our Cross Connection Facebook page, “Worrying is PRACTICAL ATHEISM!” How to stop worrying, then? I will not be able to offer you a solution or a pill that will help you immediately. But, I believe that if we understand one simple truth, we will have a different approach to our everyday worries.
Jesus encourages us “to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” We learned in our previous study what the nature of the kingdom of heaven is. The kingdom of God has already come in the person of Christ, but that same kingdom is still in the future. We can easily live with the fact that His kingdom will come. But, Jesus encourages us to live in the realm of the kingdom that has already come. In fact, Jesus started preaching in Galilee with the words: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has arrived.” (Mat. 4:17) Now, taking into consideration that God’s kingdom (partially) has arrived how would you start seeking for His kingdom and His righteousness?
When studying the Bible we can realize that it is not correct to limit His Kingdom only to the heavenly realm. In fact, that would not necessarily serve as a very effective motivator to refrain from worrying about the present. After all, what does His heavenly kingdom have to do with the kingdom of this earth? Or, what does His heavenly kingdom have to do with my personal problems?
We need to accept the kingdom of heaven that is already present. The kingdom of God has already come in the person of Christ, but that same kingdom is still in the future. In Luke 11:20 we read that the kingdom is already here; but in the Lord’s prayer, we pray about the kingdom that is coming in the future and has not yet taken place. So, we can clearly say that the kingdom is both “now” and “not yet.” This is especially evident in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus states in Matthew 5:3 that the poor in spirit possess the kingdom of heaven now. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are also experiencing the kingdom of heaven now. (Mat. 5:10)
Now, it is our choice, to live under the sovereignty of His kingdom or continue to worry about our own kingdom. The message of the Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto of the kingdom of heaven in a nutshell. After all, we cannot serve two kingdoms. So choose your kingdom. Choose your King. Choose Jesus!
Finally, there is a place for all people in His Kingdom!
The English poet Francis Thompson understood the meaning of the Kingdom of God very well; even though he became addicted to opium and was a street vagrant for years. Later he was rescued by a married couple who read his poetry. Take some time and thoughtfully read his poem.
The Kingdom of God
O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air–
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?
Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!–
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places–
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ’tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry–and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry–clinging to Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Genesareth, but Thames!