Monday, 31 May 2010
Desiring the Kingdom
Seeking the Kingdom (1)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6.33
Nothing more glorious
The Christian life can be described as practicing the Kingship of Jesus Christ, nurturing a vision and the disciplines of life in the Spirit which lead to serving Jesus in every aspect of our lives. And King Jesus is working for us even now, interceding, upholding the creation, sending out His Spirit, building His Church, and gathering His chosen ones as He advances His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. The Kingdom of God is a real, albeit spiritual, power, and it exerts a force for righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit wherever it extends. Nothing could be more glorious, more filled with joy and adventure, or more completely satisfying to the human spirit than to practice the Kingship of Jesus within and for the realm which He is spreading over all the world (Is. 9.6, 7).
When Jesus commanded us to seek first the Kingdom of God, He did so knowing that this is the supreme and highest calling any human being can know. They who value the Kingdom above all else, who have tasted of its awesome and transforming power and have experienced its peace and joy, are fairly violent in their efforts to gain more of that glorious realm – just as Jesus said they would be (Matt. 11.12). All who have even glimpsed the character and potential of the Kingdom, as it advances like a growing stone against all opposition (Dan. 2.44, 45), are forcing their way into it, ever more deeply, day by day (Lk. 16.16). For those who know the King and His Kingdom, nothing matters more than that they should enter and possess it, and be possessed by it, for the unfathomable blessings it holds; nothing is too great a sacrifice, and no exertion is too costly for those who see the Kingdom of God in all its glory and power.
If this does not describe you, then you must ask yourself: What is it, precisely, that I desire more than the Kingdom of God?
Where your treasure is
People are motivated in their daily lives by hope and vision. What we “see” in our most vivid and focused imaginations becomes what we desire above all else. What we desire is what we invest in – time, strength, resources, energy, friends. All the things we treasure most in life will be devoted to achieving the thing we envision, that which we desire above all else. We can tell where our hearts are by considering where we are investing our treasure (Matt. 6.21).
Where, to begin with, are you investing your treasure of time? Jonathan Edwards wrote of “the preciousness of time,” that it is surely God’s greatest gift to us, next to our salvation. How we spend our time will say a great deal about what we desire most in life. If the best and most productive time of our lives is spent in getting and spending, indulging the whims of our flesh, or simply frittering away the time of our lives in mindless diversions, then we are simply saying that our hearts are devoted to nothing more than ourselves, and whatever we think will bring us fleeting pleasure or the semblance of fulfillment.
And what about our conversation? God insists that our words have potential to impart grace and truth (Col. 4.6; Eph. 4.15), to edify and comfort (Eph. 4.29; 2 Cor. 1.3, 4), to teach and encourage (Col. 3.16; Heb. 10.24). But if we only have words for business transactions, commercial exchanges, trite and frivolous banter, self-justifications of various kinds, gossip and criticism, everyday events and situations, or meaningless mutual entertainment, what does this say about where our hearts are focused?
If our time and talk are devoted to self-service in one way or another, it’s certain this will be true of our treasure and our strength as well. The vision that motivates us under such circumstances is no bigger than our happiest previous experience, be it ever so fleeting. We may wish to extend that experience and minimize unpleasant ones; or perhaps we can imagine some other combination of experiences, possessions, relationships, or attainments that we hope will give us even more happiness than we have known before.
But what is that, and what are all such vain and empty dreams, compared to the glory of the eternal and ever-advancing, righteousness-disseminating Kingdom of the Prince of Peace and Joy?
After two lengthy letters of instruction, correction, admonition, and affirmation, the Apostle Paul concluded his communications with the churches in Corinth by calling on them to examine themselves. If they would not embrace his teaching, receive his correction, and renew their efforts at being the Body of Christ, it may well be that, though they were church-going folk, they had not yet truly come to know the Lord (2 Cor. 13.5).
A similar word of exhortation is in order for us. Seeing the Kingdom of God, if only in prospect, as filled with and spawning righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit; communing with Jesus Christ exalted at the right hand of God; and practicing obedience to His Kingship unto full and abundant life – knowing this we will surely desire more and more of it, day by day. We will surely long for more of the transforming power of God’s Spirit, making us anew after the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). We will earnestly seek the exceeding abundant power of the Holy Spirit to work out God’s salvation in us and use as His witnesses to the world (Eph. 3.20; Phil. 2.12, 13; Acts 1.8). We will faithfully attend to the Spirit as He teaches us the Law of God and forms us unto righteousness according to its teachings (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Rom. 7.12).
And if we do not, if such things do not inflame us with vision and desire that nothing else can satisfy, then we must be honest enough to admit that we have not tasted of the Kingdom of God, and, with that, we probably do not know its King.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also; what you envision, you will desire, and what you desire, you will give your all to attain.
Read about Patrick and his work in the Kingdom of Christ in T. M.’s book, The Legacy of Patrick, from our online store.