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Taking God Seriously

Jesus is now at the core issue as He lays out His manifesto (Matthew 5 – 7). God has a country. It is a kingdom. Jesus is the Messiah and it’s King. Now that is some good news.

Jesus is clear about my mission. It is not to worry about “the things” of life. It is to totally dedicate myself to what Jesus, as the King of God’s country, wants me to do.

That is the main thing about the main thing.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” || Matthew 6:25-34

Seeking first God’s kingdom. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God he was not referring to the general sovereignty of God over nature and history, but to that specific rule over his own people which he himself had inaugurated, and which begins in anybody’s life when he humbles himself, repents, believes, submits and is born again.

God’s kingdom is Jesus the Messiah ruling over his people in total blessing and total demand. To ‘seek first’ this kingdom is to desire as of first importance the spread of the reign of Jesus the Messiah.

Such a desire will start with myself, until every single department of my life — home, marriage and family, personal morality, professional life and business ethics, bank balance, tax returns, life-style, citizenship — is joyfully and freely submissive to the Messiah.

It will continue in my immediate environment, with the acceptance of evangelistic responsibility towards our relatives, colleagues, neighbours and friends. And it will also reach out in global concern for the missionary witness of the church.

Why do we desire the spread of the good news throughout the world? Not out of a sinful imperialism or triumphalism, whether for ourselves or the church. Nor just because evangelism is part of our obedience (though it is). Nor primarily to make other people happy (though it does). But especially because the glory of God and of his the Messiah is at stake.

God is King, has inaugurated his saving reign through the Messiah, and has a right to rule in the lives of his creatures. Our ambition, then, is to seek first his kingdom, to cherish the passionate desire that his name should receive from men the honour which is due to it.

To accord priority to the interests of the kingdom of God here and now is not to lose sight of its goal beyond history. For the present manifestation of the kingdom is only partial. Jesus spoke also of a future kingdom of glory and told us to pray for its coming. So to ‘seek first’ the kingdom includes the desire and the prayer for the consummation at the end of time when all the King’s enemies have become his footstool and his reign is undisputed.