But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
My high school discipleship group and I were talking about this verse tonight. As I’m learning to ask myself when reading scripture, what does this look like? What does it look like to seek first a kingdom?
I think it’s important, for starters, to understand what a kingdom is. A kingdom is a realm that is ruled by a king (I like to keep things simple). I, unfortunately, live in the kingdom of Bill too much of the time. Too often, I seek first what will increase my little kingdom; I focus on what will make my name great, what will increase my kingdom’s power, what will grant me, as the king, riches, luxuries, pleasures, power and exaltation.
It’s all about control, you see.
Our Lord understands that we are naturally this way. We worry about our own kingdoms; the context of this passage is our (natural) anxiety about the things we need to live.
But Jesus pushes against what we call “natural” – because, really, it’s not natural, or logical, or wise. We’re fallen and twisted, departed from what we were made to be, divorced from the natures God intended us to have, so much so that the wisdom of following after God is missed, often without us realizing it.
Here’s what makes sense: all the things we need fall under the domain of the King who created them. He offers us free citizenship in his Kingdom through the death and resurrection of his Son, but to gain this citizenship we need to take our white-knuckled grip off of our own kingdom. This feels like death to us, in our unnatural, fallen condition, but it only makes perfect sense. Our kingdoms are small, wispy vapors that will rise and fall like flowers and we don’t know our right hand from our left. He is the King who created the universe and holds it together by the word of his power. His Kingdom is forever, the government is on his shoulders, and he has authority over all things, including everything we need.
Is this really a hard choice?
True, his call on us is weighty. Giving control to the true King can and often does lead to hunger, nakedness, the sword. As Paul wrote, “for your sake we are being killed all the day long”. But Jesus promises us that if we seek the Kingdom, if we are aligned with the King’s purposes and sent out as ambassadors for him, he will give us all the things we need, and he understands what we need so much more than we do. He will give us what we need to seek the Kingdom even more! And in the end we will receive an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses anything we have to deal with in this life.
That’s a Kingdom worth seeking. First.