“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt 13:44)
If you come to believe, as I have, the reality of the kingdom of heaven on earth is the most important aspect of life here to pursue, then it only stands to reason it is worthy of our full and undivided attention. The Bible is all about God calling to His people to pursue goals, many of them seemingly impossible, in faith. How would faith itself exist apart from the pursuit of the unknown? Doesn’t Hebrews 11 say faith is believing for things not yet clear? Any place worth getting to where God is concerned must come at the price of a faith-pursuit. And in the case of gaining a working understanding of the kingdom of heaven on earth, it is a place oh, so worthy of getting to!
Matthew writes we are to seek first His kingdom, and then all other things will be taken care of. Jesus put praying for God’s kingdom to come at the top of the list in The Lord’s Prayer. If we were to try to fit Matthew’s comment in to modern church evangelism, which tells us we must endure this evil world and then die before the kingdom of heaven opens to us, it would make no sense. How then would the “things” follow? In heaven after earth, will we be in need of any-thing? Jesus says we are to pray His kingdom would come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Likewise, how could this be if the kingdom were not open to us here “on earth” as it will be “in heaven?” Why would He instruct us to pray for something now that didn’t exist?
In the parable of the field full of treasure above, Jesus made the priority we are to put seeking the kingdom of heaven on earth clear. He says the treasure is hidden, and therefore must be pursued to be found. The treasure was not sitting on top of the ground where it could be easily found. No, we have to dig down below the surface of half-baked commitments, religion, and religious activities and appearances to find it. We seek it, find it, then from the joy we experience at discovering it we sell every other priority in order to make it ours. In the parable Jesus says the man sells all he has. Priority #1? I think so.
Many Scriptures like these prove the kingdom is here and now, and we are to pursue it now! We are to pursue it above any other pursuit, as a matter of first importance according to Paul, and at the cost of everything else according to Jesus. I believe this is because the powers of darkness know this is the crucial tipping point between a believer they may be able to deceive and dissuade, and a kingdom citizen they will not. Those who grasp the kingdom will be warriors who will persistently resist the darkness, and bring others in to the kingdom who will do likewise.
When it comes to what exactly it means to pursue the things of the kingdom, I love the fact that we serve a God who is unattainable and yet bids us to be as He is anyway. Jesus said we were to be “perfect”, knowing as He did we would not this side of heaven be perfected. In 1st Corinthians 12:31, Paul outlines this same ideal, saying no matter how far we progress – even though we are in pursuit of “the greater gifts” there is still and always a “more excellent way.” When you think about it, how would an attainable god be God? On the one hand we face the futility of trying to understand a God whose thoughts and ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isa. 55), which would want to make us quit before we start. Ah, but on the other we see the power of grace and the indwelling of the Spirit that urges us to, as flawed servants, “press on to the goal (Phil 3:13)” of that upward calling anyway! That is the constant challenge of what we call “faith.”
Obviously, it all begins with you – you and God. It must begin with a passionate pursuit of your relationship with Him through study, meditation, and prayer. Inasmuch as most men, in particular, struggle with prayer might I suggest a method of praying God’s own prayers in the Psalms that helped me tremendously? [see Praying Today’s Psalms (two volumes) by Wolff on Amazon]. Romans 8 tells us we don’t know how to pray as we should, and when asked how to pray Jesus said, “Pray like this” and then gave us what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. We’re not talking about intercession here, but prayers that engender communion with God, and what better way than by praying His own words back to Him?
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