Friday, October 22, 2010

First seek the Kingdom of God.

25"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? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If 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? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

What will I eat? How will I pay the bills? How will I have a happy marriage? How will I have a successful career? Everyone seems to be preoccupied with these kinds of concerns, but Jesus calmed his disciples by giving them a higher purpose. He told them not to worry about their needs in this world, but to instead seek God's kingdom, having the promise that their heavenly Father would then also meet all those needs.
The first step in understanding what it means to seek the kingdom of God is to determine what Jesus meant by "his kingdom." This is because Jesus used the word translated as kingdom in a way that is very different from the typical usage of kingdom in English as the land or people ruled by a king.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the "kingdom of God" is usually God's active rule over his creation, especially in saving his people from their sins and the consequences of those sins. (Matthew often uses "kingdom of heaven" instead of "kingdom of God," but the two terms are synonymous (Matt 13:31a = Mark 4:30 = Luke 13:18), so "kingdom of heaven" does not refer to heaven as a place, but to God's reign as King, reflecting the Jewish avoidance of direct reference to God.) The kingdom of God is not only God's rule over his obedient subjects, but includes his victory over their spiritual enemies through Jesus, beginning in the present age (Matt 12:28; Luke 1:68-75; 11:20). The kingdom of God has been concisely defined as God's "acting in his sovereign power to deliver man from the destructive powers that enthrall him". The kingdom of God was inaugurated in the person of Jesus in this present age, before its consummation begins the age to come. God asserted His rule in history by defeating Satan and death through the work of Jesus, even though God will not complete his display of authority until Jesus returns in judgment, when he will start the new world order. To seek the kingdom of God is to actively receive the eternal life that Jesus brought. Seeking salvation does not end at the time of conversion, but continues throughout the life of each disciple of Jesus.
A proper understanding of what it means to seek the kingdom of God has profound implications for those who put it in practice by confidently seeking God's will and eternal life:

•With faith in God's promises to forgive them and freely give them the kingdom, they regularly pray that they will have more and more of God's will, rather than being led astray from the path of eternal life by Satan and the cares of this life.

•Their focus on God's promises frees them from anxiety and restless toil for earthly things since they realize that he will provide them with everything they need and will compensate them with eternal life for whatever lesser things they sacrifice for the sake of his will

•Their putting the things of this world in proper perspective leads them to generously give their resources, including their money, time, and energy, to express love for others.

•Having forsaken the values of this age, they do their righteous deeds to please God, not to receive respect or approval from humanity. Therefore, they strive for God's will in both thoughts and deeds.

In short, the disciples of Jesus remember that in the age to come, God will exalt those who humble themselves now, as he has raised his Son after his humiliating death. If we seek God’s Kingdom first, God will take care of the rest.

Peace and love,


"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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