Seek First the Kingdom of God

Isaiah 55:6 says: “Seek the LORD…” A rabbi once said that the Hebrew word for “seek” used here is “research.” It is not a command to look for, but a command to study, to research, to learn all that you can about the LORD. And of course the purpose of that researching is to use the information because it is not knowledge in and of itself that is power, but it is applied knowledge that becomes power. So, we are not to simply research the LORD for the sake of knowing things. We are to Research the LORD for the purpose of applying what we learn in how we live our lives.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” The New Testament was written in Greek, but the word Jesus would have used is the Aramaic word that would be very similar to the Hebrew word that means “research.” Therefore, Jesus is instructing us to learn, to research, to study the Kingdom of God. 

The Kingdom of God can be defined in a couple of ways. We can define kingdom as a geographical area in which a king rules and governs. This idea of Kingdom is a territory within specific boundaries. We can also define the Kingdom as the reign or rule of the king. Kingdom here is not the territory that comprises a kingdom, but the authority and power that the king has. Most scholars side with the more dynamic “rule of God” or “reign of God,” capturing more the second meaning of the word kingdom. I also side more with the second meaning, but it is not simply the authority or power of the king to rule, I would also define it as the manner in which the king rules. therefore, I define “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” (they are the same thing) as “The way (or manner) in which God rules.”

So we are instructed to research, study, examine, learn all we can about the way God rules, and its righteousness. Righteousness is often used as if it is a moral quality, or some sense or quality of holiness. The root of the word that is translated as “righteousness” is “justice.” Therefore, righteousness, however we choose to define it, is rooted and centered on justice. So, we can make the statement: “First, research the justice of the way God rules.” Justice is relational in the Bible. It is not simply about punishing. Biblical justice is a balanced relationship – a right relationship. Injustice is when the relationship becomes unbalanced. An eye for an eye is a legal expression of attempting to restore balance. Righteousness is a state of being in a right relationship with God, and we are told in the Bible that those who are in a right relationship with God live by faith.

So, where does that now leave us? We are at:

First thing: Research, study, examine, learn all you can about the way God rules (the world, the universe, your life), and how to be in a right relationship with God, and everything else will be added to you.

What is this “everything else”? The immediate context of the statement is Jesus’ teaching about worry. The worry expressed is a worry about basic survival and the worry about having what we need to survive. It is worrying about material things such as food, clothing, things necessary for health, and, of course, money. What Jesus esssentially tells us is that what we are worrying about becomes our master, and Jesus tells us that we cannot have two masters because we will come to love one and hate the other. He tells us we cannot serve both God and money, but the money he is talking about is not simply money as it is, but money as we make it: the key to our security and our survival. Money becomes the answer to our worries — or so we think — so we seek wealth to ensure we have food and clothing and housing and medical care and all the other things we need to survive. More than that, we hope to do more than simply to survive, but we hope to find some sense of happiness and quality of life. So, money here is not simply wealth, but it is our worry and the means we use to combat our worry.

But first, Research, study, examine, learn all you can about the way God rules (the world, the universe, your life), and how to be in a right relationship with God, and food, clothing, money, health, necessities, and so much more will take care of itself.

Jesus said he came so that we could have abundant life — life to its fullest. Some people try to take that “abundant life” and twist it into “a life of abundance,” applying it as if Jesus came so that we can have an abundance of material things. Yet, the examples Jesus uses — the birds of the air and the flowers in the field — talk about having what is needed, not having more than is needed. The birds of the air do not build barns to store their food or save it for a rainy day. God simply gives them what they need this day. The flowers of the field do not have more color and beauty than they need. They have enough color and beauty that is sufficient to attract the bees so that their pollen is spread and more flowers appear. So, the abundant life, or the life of abundance, is not about generating a vast amount of wealth and material goods. It is about having what is needed.

Don’t worry about how you are going to survive. Don’t worry about how you are going to have enough to eat. Don’t worry about how you are going to pay the bills. Don’t worry about anything because worrying does not add to your survival, provide food, pay bills, cure illness, or add a single second to your life. Worry simply robs you of the life you have. But first, Research, study, examine, learn all you can about the way God rules (the world, the universe, your life), and how to be in a right relationship with God, and discover that you have all that you need right now — and live in the right now that is enough, rather than in the tomorrow that has nothing.

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, then be happy right now! Faith is present tense and God exists in the moment. God is ALWAYS here, but we are not. We are off living in the past or the future and we miss the God who is in the present moment. Worry is the time machine we tend to use to journey to our past and future. Step out of the worry and into the present and discover that God is here and right now is good — because God is the God of more than enough and our lives are full in the moment.

Mathew-6-33

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