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Seek First the Kingdom of God, part 3
How we follow Jesus’ example of seeking first the kingdom of God.
We know that we seek first God’s kingdom by actively pursuing the experience and availability of God’s reign for everyone. This means that we are working towards restoration in our relationships, neighborhoods and workplaces. We’ve seen examples of how Jesus did this while he was on earth. Jesus used his time to serve those in need regardless of his schedule or the expectations other people placed on him.
So now the question we’re left with, is how do we follow Jesus’ example of striving for God’s reign? Let’s start with the one that might be the hardest: Seeking first God’s kingdom means letting go of our own kingdoms. Our kingdoms may each be a little different, but just like our worries, we all share some similarities here.
Our kingdoms are the things that we value most in our lives apart from God. These things often keep us separate from God and muddy the waters when we are trying to hear God’s voice or pursue our purpose. It is not unusual for our worries to become our kingdoms. We strive so hard to escape our worst worries that we can’t see past them to think about the reign of God. It isn’t possible to have more than two “firsts” in our lives.
Our kingdoms aren’t necessarily bad things, but to seek first anything other than God’s kingdom is lacking! The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they were doing the right thing by following the rules. However, it wasn’t God’s kingdom they were trying to share, they were setting up a kingdom for themselves. Our kingdoms might be our addictions, a thirst for power, a need for structure or routine, a certain status or affiliation or recognition.
We often set up our own kingdoms for a sense of control, but unfortunately, they end up controlling us. What God offers to us instead, is freedom. When we pursue the kingdom of God, we become free to just be who God made us to be. We each have gifts and a special purpose for this life. Seeking first the kingdom of God means we accept who we are and help other people see who they are as well.
In human eyes, if anyone deserved to set up his own kingdom, it was Jesus. For Jesus, serving his own human kingdom might have looked like trying to save his reputation in the eyes of the religious leaders. Or it might have been him proving once and for all who he really was. But time and time again, Jesus set aside the temptations of his own fleshly kingdoms. In doing so, his work could just be about bringing God’s reign fully.
Saying Yes or No
Finally, let’s look at one more example that encourages us to strive first for the reign of God. Lisa Terkeurst wrote a book called “The Best Yes.” Many of us struggle with unending to-do lists, the demands or expectations of others and questions about our purpose or calling. No to mention the worries that consume us and our own personal kingdoms we try to build.
Terkeurst encourages readers to “rise above the rush of endless demands and discover our best yes.” She shares how there is a huge difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. And this may seem like common sense, but I wonder how quickly we could fill pages and pages with times we said yes to everything else before saying yes to God.
“We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really? A quick check to see if this is true is our ability to notice what God wants us to notice and our willingness to participate when God invites us to participate.” – Lisa Terkeurst
God invites us to actively participate in bringing God’s full and complete reign into existence. Jesus’ example shows us the way to do this by looking out for the needs of others. We can engage by putting aside our own kingdoms and saying yes to God. This means hope and wholeness for all of creation. A world full of grace. This means room for every person, every person at the table. How will we respond?
Take some time to reflect on how God is calling you to participate. Leave a comment below with how you will respond to God’s invitation.