But Seek First...
first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom
But Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you,
In this life we are constantly on the hunt. For instance, 0bserve how social media has grown and become an accepted form of engagement. Regardless of our perceived intention, we are hunting for relationship through the lense of a facade of likes and empty validation. Or let’s take a more personal look at how we spend our time. How much of it is centered on anything other than ourselves? Truly, even the most “self-aware” person spends great time and attention on through the the vain caves of that close enemy, the desperate self.
This was not only me, pouring my time into creating and maintaining this facade of a life, but its a stark reality for many of us. We look as though we have it all together. Whether its money, a relationship, a position, a role at church, a role within your family, or otherwise, the point is that there is much to be said for how a great number of us are living “fake” lives, a subtly faint cry for help masked through our selfies, quotable quotes and shares.
One reason this persists is in relation to what we are seeking. Is it accolades, perception, fulfillment of that missing piece, that gaping hole within the dark regions of our soul. The thing that was covered up and protected long ago... yes that thing right there. Whenever we access it, its immediately visceral. Almost uncontrollable. Quickly we close the door to that box and bury it again. Bury it quickly before anyone finds out, before it has the chance to over take you or your emotions. We tell ourselves that there’s no need to go back. What’s done is done and its the past anyway. Unfortunately, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Actually, its a blatant lie from pit of Hell and the author of confusion, Satan himself.
There are many routes to take from this point. One, you could ignore the calling you feel so deeply and run for the hills (which is really a valley) back to the house of cards you’ve built and hope that everything remains in tack, filling your time with everything that does not fill that gapping hole. Two, you could acknowledge that there’s something deeper going on and still decide to deny it, which will drive you towards operating on autopilot, a high-level operational numbness. To the extent that you’re able to maintain through the broken relationships, depression, anxiety, outbursts (whether outward or inward), striving, manipulation of self and others and effacing self talk, there may be some hope to live a normal, unfulfilled, uneventful life of complacency. Even your victories will seem empty, hollow and devoid of that sense of accomplishment you’d secretly hoped it would bring.
All of this and for what, the hollow victories and dwelling in the desolate valley’s of the down cast soul. No thank you.
What have we truly been called to? What is that yearning deep within our souls that was so quickly bruised yet so hard to heal. What are we really seeking that is seemingly so elusive? Yes, Jesus, Yeshua, el Meshiach the one and only true and living God. That’s the simple answer. However, within most things that are as beautifully simple as saying yes to Christ, there is a complexity to saying yes.
For example, let’s consider marriage, a simple yes at the engagement, then comes the wedding plans, guest list, invitations, venues, menus and the actual day. Which also starts with another simple, yes and so begins an entirely new life. A new union. A new family, new family members and all the intricacies that come with your wonderful new spouse. Ok, marriage is a big commitment and not everyone is at the place where they’re considering marriage. How about something more mundane, a new job where your “yes” equates to new responsibilities, new team dynamics, learning and implementing new practices of one sort or another. A new car, yes! Bring on the new payments or new maintenance or new mechanic. A new computer, then there’s the setup time, learning the new system, transferring files or cooking dinner, or taking a class, you get the idea. The point is that there’s more to our yes, in any given situation, than meets the eye.
Matt 6:33 reveals a stream of hope and light for us here by providing a very key point to getting through the weeds on this. Granted for some it will be process to get here to fully grasp this small but oh so powerful truth.
In context these versus in Matthew are highlighting Christs’ words of freedom. Specifically, Christ has just come away from teaching the Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes as well as a framework for prayer. The disciples are now about to learn a foundational principle to freedom. Freedom from worrying about the typical hang ups we see in the world (indeed much has not changed in the 2000+ years of His teaching this) money, clothes, food, division, giving/generosity, anxiety and distractions. To some degree, chief among these I believe to be distraction.
Christ speaks the words “Seek first” meaning literally to seek first; make this a priority/primary objective or place this at the forefront of your thinking before all else (the subject that follows). This should be of our present daily consuming focus and joy. Going deeper, past the daily devotional, past the one chapter a day or bible in a year, past the weekly meetings with your local church. This is a present-tense command to chase after the things of God with fervent focus, vigor and passion. Even more so than we currently do when going after self-focused worldly pleasure.
To put this in perspective, lets evaluate our own actions, behaviors and desires around this. Ask ourselves these questions:
- What is my day consumed by?
- What are the things that I think most about?
- Where does God fit into this equation?
Record your answers.
For the most part, we can say with some level of assurance that many of us attempt to retro fit the Father into our days, if at all. Most often, when we really pay attention, at best we are coasting through each day. Half-focusing from one thing to another, reacting to shifting priorities while checking social media updates and emails alongside various notifications of the next breaking news story, podcast or blog. Sound familiar?
What if all of this were actually a carefully curated distraction? Is it possible that while we think that we are being faithful by “not sinning” that we have subtly given place to a lullaby of lies? Christ spoke of this specifically in the parable of the Sower (Mark 4).
“And others are they that are sown among the thorns; these are they that have heard the word, and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 ASV
This is why it is so crucial to watch what we are giving our attention to, where our time is going and how its being spent. What Seeking First, means for us in today’s society is to care enough about our relationship with Christ that we realize that our time has a value attached to it. We get to decide how to invest it. Will it be for the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of self?
Never-the-less, in our seeking, let’s agree from here forward to put on the helmet of salvation daily so that we may have the mind of Christ in all things. That we will allow our thoughts to be consumed by the Father and ask Him (literally speak these words aloud), “what is on your heart for me today Father?”, “what should I be seeking?”. Then allow yourself to truly be silent, calm your thoughts, still your heart (push away the thoughts that may try to distract you) and enjoy the stillness of His presence. Begin to practice this. Soon enough, you’ll be able to hear that still small voice calling you deeper. Exposing the lies and revealing the truth. Providing direction and so much more. Isaiah 23:10 says “be still and know that I am God”. This reflects a heart posture or a attitude/behavior that we need to acclimate to that will help us tune in to the Father and ultimately seek first...
We’ve all been in relationships of some sort. Whether it was with a family member, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or our everyday friends and acquaintances. It’s fairly easy to notice people who have been within relationship for a while. There’s a depth to it, something intangible that shows you that they really know each other. As with any relationship this is a result of two primary (not solitary) factors, time and trust. Time spent with someone will allow you really see who they are and they will also get to see who you are. This is one reason I believe most veer away from spending too much time with God, either they don’t really want to know Him or they are afraid to be known. Trust on the other hand allows one to humble themselves and submit and you cannot gain real trust without actually knowing someone.
There is a superficial trust that exists these days that will, in essence, allow a visitor into the foyer of our lives but never throughout the house. This is to our downfall and a lie of the enemy. God already knows all your crap. He was there when it happened.
The how and the why of building any solid foundation within a relationship is time. We cannot escape it, we can not get around it.
Photo credit: C3Brooklyn Sons Retreat