In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus said the following:
This passage is the summary to a long section in which Jesus compares the experience of being in the kingdom of God under the grace of God and living in the shackle of the Law and constantly under the judgment of God.
Seeking the kingdom was explained in terms that seemed even more demanding than the Law when one looks at it on the surface. For example:
- The Law said do not murder but in the kingdom one must not even hate his brother or call him a fool.
- The Law said do not commit adultery but the kingdom demands that we do not even think about adultery.
- The Law said be fair and just, but the kingdom requires us to love enemies, ignore insults, give to the undeserving.
- The Law permits and governs wealth but the kingdom only recognizes heavenly treasure.
It would seem that to "seek" after the kingdom is a heavier burden than to keep the Law, after all who can avoid hatred; always have a pure mind; become completely vulnerable; have the faith to live for the next world and deny the one that exists?
It would seem that way, except for one important difference; that is the difference between the words "keep" and "seek."
To keep means to obey, to maintain, not to make mistakes or omissions. To be saved, accepted by God on the basis of Law, one had to keep the entire Law (James 2:10). To please God by keeping means that unless the entire Law is kept, there is no pleasing Him. It is all or nothing!
To seek means to search for, to desire, to endeavor, to plan and try for. In the passages on the kingdom, Jesus describes exactly what it is that we are trying for: A love that includes those who are the most far away, our enemies. A heart that will not entertain an action that is ungodly, or impure. An attitude that depends totally on God for defence, for provision, for encouragement. A hope that is fixed on heaven through Christ and not dependant on any earthly thing for heavenly joy.
These are the goals of those who are in the kingdom and for those who seek these goals, Jesus makes certain promises:
1. If you "seek" the kingdom you do not have to "keep" the Law.
That means freedom for those who are under the curse of having no margin for mistakes. When you "seek" you are allowed a margin for failure. He did not say keep the kingdom, He said seek the kingdom.
The very fact that He said that you had to look for it, try for it, attempt it, means that He is prepared to forgive you when you do not find it instantly. So, those who are honestly seeking the kingdom can say that they are seekers even if they have not forgiven all their enemies and sometimes they get discouraged because that is what seeking is all about. It is about looking for something that they have not completely found yet.
2. If you "seek" the kingdom you will eventually find it.
Those who try to please God and themselves by "keeping" the Law can be sure of one thing: they will never succeed. (Romans 3:23) But the promise to those who are seeking is that one day they will find the lost coin; the lost sheep; the pearl of great price; the kingdom of God.
You will find it in part now and then when Jesus comes you will find it completely. When Jesus returns He will not be looking for the ones who kept the Law, cause there will not be any of those to be found. When He comes He will allow Himself to be found by those who have been searching for Him all their lives. Searching for Him through loving action, through refined hearts, through trusting obedience, through a wealth of good deeds.
What will you be searching for this year? Wealth? A better and more comfortable position in this world? Safety for you and your family? Or will you make your first priority the seeking of God's kingdom in your life?
If you have not begun the search, the first step is a confession of faith and repentance along with a baptism in Christ to set about the road into the kingdom. And for those who have lost their way, a request for forgiveness is the way back to being a seeker. For the believers, just a reminder not to be discouraged: whatever you seek in Christ not found yet, you will clearly see and have when He comes.
My prayer is that you will focus on seeking the Kingdom this week.
- What form does seeking the kingdom take in your life?
- Describe an attitude, failure, weakness you've left behind since you began seeking the kingdom.
- What is one way you help others begin seeking the kingdom?