SECOND: ‘SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM’
Now, what does this mean? And how do we do it practically?
In verse 32, Jesus connects our worry and anxiety with our seeking. Watch this, he says, “The Pagans/Gentiles” – which was short in their day for the people who don’t know God—he says, [they’re] the ones seeking after all of these things: Health, wealth, and material possessions—the physical tactile things of life. That’s all they want and that’s all they talk about. And that’s why they are anxious about it.
You see the principle?
Our worries and anxieties reveal our priorities. We get anxious about the things we put our hope in. That’s why earlier in this chapter Jesus says where your treasure is your heart will be also. In other words, what you’re hoping in, what you’re investing in, that’s what’s going to have a grip on your heart.
So, what does Jesus do? Again, he calls the spiritual background (unseen things) into view and he says, let me give you something else to seek after. It’s almost like he says, “You want to be anxious for something? Be anxious for this. You want to seek something? Seek this! Seek first the kingdom of God.”
But what does that mean?
Well, he already told us. In verse 20 he says, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Invest in eternal things. Don’t put your ultimate hope in this life, put it in the next life. But how do we do that? Well, elsewhere in this scripture Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek and so on.
So, seeking first the kingdom of God involves two main things: remembering our hope of heaven and radically demonstrating the love of Christ in the here and now.
Do you see how this works? The great security of our hope in heaven frees us to demonstrate the love of Christ here.
The early Christians took these words to heart, lived them out, and radically changed the world.
We must know the hope of heaven and the love of Christ.
Christians know that Jesus, the Son of God has shown us the greatest love of all. He has died for our sins and risen from the dead. The sin that separates us from God, he has taken it all away. For on the cross, God the Father knowing every sin we ever have committed or will commit, he put those sins on Jesus and he was punished in our place. On the cross, Jesus was cut off so that we could be brought back to God.
-He was condemned so that we could be acquitted.
-He was forsaken so that we could be forgiven.
And three days later Jesus rose from the grave to prove that all he said and all he did was true. And it is this gospel, and this assurance, and this love that Christians have believed in and it frees us to invest in people instead of possessions and invest in eternity instead of the here and now.
Have you come to that place?
Can you say with Paul in Philippians 1 that, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”? Do you have the hope of heaven? What does Jesus say later on in Mathew 10? “Do not fear what can destroy the body! Fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” And he asks the calculating question, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” One of the things that times like this call us back to is the fragility of life and the great question of where do I stand with God?
And it calls us to put others needs before our own.
Now, none of us know what that might mean for us in the coming months but we will find out.
It looks like Christ and a cross.
It looks like running towards the need not running from it. I
t looks like sharing our resources, possibly to our own hurt.
It looks like the type of life that only makes sense if heaven is real, if Christ is alive, and if his love is our driving force in life.
Brethren, in this confused day and age, as people who call ourselves believers, we are called to bear witness to the kingdom of Christ. In the coming weeks and months, may the Lord lead us in how to do that in creative and helpful ways.
One of the things that times like this call us back to is the fragility of life and the great question of where do I stand with God?