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Jesus gave a big (maybe even a life-long) assignment. Stop worrying; instead, fill your mind with seeking God's kingdom.
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' After all these things the Gentiles seek. For Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV
Seeking God's Kingdom
When my life is primarily about food and drink, clothes and haircuts, sports and recreation, money and assets, Jesus said I have got it wrong! I am like "the Gentiles." What greater insult in the presence of Jesus, than to be compared to those who do not believe in his heavenly Father!
This passage is vintage Jesus. Black and white. Two extremes--disciples and "the Gentiles." The worriers who see no further than the cares of life are in one camp. Those who trust their worries to God and are thereby free to move on to greater things are in the other camp.
The line Jesus drew was not one of physical separation. We know this because Jesus lived in the midst of people, disciples and Gentiles alike, and was fully engaged in their lives. The distinction Jesus made between believer and nonbeliever was about those things which incite our interest and bring us joy. It is the line of purpose, goals, and destination. When we meet the God of the universe, how could it not make a big impact and transform our living!
Seeking God's kingdom sets us in a new direction. It moves us away from the temporary things of life and toward the eternal. Away from trivial issues to matters of lasting consequence, like granting forgiveness and resolving conflicts. For Jesus, God's kingdom was an overriding passion. Not one of many other things to do, but the one thing that explained and flavored everything else he did.
How do we get on this road to God's kingdom? Jesus laid it out here as a basic decision to leave our old life and begin a pursuit of the spirit. Some people know this as a once-in-a-lifetime decision; others experience it as a daily desire of the heart. Jesus calls us to lift up our eyes because there's more, something better, which he has in store for us. But we must want it, choose it, and actively participate by seeking it.
How do we seek God's kingdom and God's righteousness? Although everyone is unique and will find their own way to God, the most common route is through regular times of prayer, meditation and solitude. The first thoughts upon waking or the last ones before sleep; setting aside 5-10 minutes or more every day; a walk alone over the lunch hour; a shared devotional time with a friend.
Some people use a passage of Scripture to guide them, some keep a journal and pen on their lap, others pray with the newspaper in hand or at the computer, some meet God while engaged in acts of service to others. Prayer is the sincere desire of the heart, the painful cry of the soul, the unanswered questions of the mind, the joyful celebration of the spirit. It can be done anywhere, anytime, in the midst of whatever life throws our way.
What exactly is the kingdom of God? There must be a million ways in which people express it. The kingdom of God is the banner over our heads, the light in our darkness, the mystery of God within our souls, our calling as Christians, the star in my sky, the glue that holds everything together, the best of what heaven and earth have to offer; the reign of God in our lives right now in the present tense.
Wherever the great themes of the Bible are practiced and lived out, there is the kingdom of God. Peace and justice, mercy and forgiveness, redemption and new beginnings, reassurance amid pain, gambling on love, rejoicing in grace and believing in victory. All of this done in the spirit of faith and hope in the person and reality of God. Wow! It is a big picture. We hold God's kingdom in our spirit and it affects everything else we do.
Don't worry; give priority to seeking God's kingdom and God's righteousness, and you will end up having more! Sometimes we think religion takes away from life; Jesus said the kingdom of God doesn't subtract, it adds to your living. Do you believe that? Try it and see.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: State 3 words which you think describe worry, and/or 3 words which describe faith.
Usually when we stop doing something, it leaves a void. Jesus told us to re-direct the time and energy required to worry and put that into seeking God. Will it, does it, work? Why or why not?
We routinely say doubt is the opposite of faith. Are fear and worry also the opposite of faith? What did the responses to the Icebreaker tell you about this?
Jesus seemed to think that faith in our heavenly Father would make a difference in the way we live our daily lives. In what ways is your life different from someone who doesn't believe in God? Do you watch the same TV shows? Worry about the same things? Respect the same people? Share the same values, etc.?
What do you think it means to seek God's kingdom and righteousness? Seekers usually find something. What have you found in your searching? Why would Jesus put the emphasis on seeking rather than finding?
There were times when Jesus withdrew to be alone and pray. What do you like to do alone? How do you benefit from time spent alone? Why would solitude be called a spiritual discipline?
The opposite of solitude is often referred to as community.Jesus lived much of his 3-year ministry surrounded by lots of people. How does solitude help you live in community with other people? What steps have you taken toward maintaining a good balance between solitude and community?
Is it easy or difficult for you to give priority to your faith in God? Are you satisfied and happy with your #1 priority in life?
When in a crowd, look at people and remember God loves each one. What are some ways you could experience the kingdom of God in a crowded setting?
We are familiar with the idea of parents having dreams for their children. But did you ever stop to consider what God's dream is for you, and for our world?