Seek First the Kingdom Of God
Seek First the Kingdom Of God
Matthew 6:33 (The Message)
“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
Matthew 6:33 (New American Standard Bible)
“But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
There has been a bit of discussion of late regarding the recent emphasis on the ‘Kingdom’ and the ‘Emerging Church’. In fact, for years preachers have avoided the topic of Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven (synonymous terms) because they were fearful of being labeled as a heretic, as the Kingdom (which I define as God’s rule everywhere, over everything, at all times) was seen as delayed or inconsequential. Yet, if you read the gospels with an open heart and mind, you will no doubt see that the Kingdom was the primary focus of Jesus and the apostles teaching.
The Jewish perspective on the Kingdom was based upon believes that the Kingdom of God would be an earthly, political Kingdom that would overthrow the Roman rule and restore worldwide dominion to the Jewish nation, much like in the time of David and Solomon. When one views the Kingdom of God from this earthly perspective, the key teachings of Christ are often missed (or misconstrued), lacking a spiritual understanding of the Kingdom, which was clearly the focus of His earthly ministry. In saying this, I am not undermining the importance of salvation in His earthly ministry, as Jesus also emphasized that to enter the Kingdom one must be born again! What I am emphasizing is the fact that if we are to become the Church that Jesus spoke of in Matt. 16:18 (the one He builds that overcomes) we must have a clear, biblical understanding of the Kingdom of God, along with an understanding of the timing of the Kingdom as presented in Scripture.
From John to Jesus and Beyond
Both John the Baptist and Jesus taught, as recorded many places in Scripture, that the Kingdom of God was at hand. In stating this, they were not putting the Kingdom of Heaven/God off to some future millennial reign. They spoke of a Kingdom as literally ‘at hand.’ If something is at hand, its close; you can touch it. The woman with the issue of blood is one of the many who actually touched the Kingdom, receiving wholeness of life as a result. In like manner, when we touch or are touched by the revelation of the Kingdom, we will be changed as well.
“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)
“THE TIME IS FULFILLED, and the Kingdom of heaven is AT HAND; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk. 1:15).
Jesus emphasis on the Kingdom of God seems to be missed today. That is, we are concerned about getting people to heaven, but not that they conform their life to the rule of God as found in the Word of God…which is the essence of discipleship.
The old (now) chorus, “He is the King of kings, He is the Lord of lords” remains relevant today. That is, Jesus is now the reigning King of the universe, and his expectation is that men and women repent of their sin and dead works, and embrace the reality that Jesus has the right to demand their loyalty and fidelity. The Kingdom is the most important thing…but it is something we must seek.
Seek it First
When Jesus taught in Matt. 6:33 to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, He was not telling the Jews of that day to seek something that was far off in the future. He was urging them to seek something present, in their very midst (LU. 17:20-21). The Kingdom was not a future event that would come with pomp and circumstance, but would be a spiritual not visible Kingdom, that could be known because of the changes that the Kingdom would bring in individuals lives and in the community of man as a whole.
Discipleship, again defined as telios, or maturity, defined as the ability to function according to the will and purpose of our Maker, also means to live as God intended us to as member of his Kingdom Family. This family, spiritual in nature, sometimes dysfunctional, is what the Lord is building today, through the church, for the glory of God. Discipleship, which begins by seeing the Kingdom, once one is born again, is designed to bring the reign of God into the life of the person, family and community for the glory of God. More on the Kingdom and Discipleship in the next article.