I have been investing my thoughts of late in the question of what it means to seek the Kingdom of God. Since this is the first, highest, and overarching priority of Christian experience, I feel like I should be trying to get this right.
Seeking the Kingdom certainly involves a variety of familiar practices and disciplines: reading, study, and meditation in Scripture; prayer; communion and worship with fellow believers; walking in the Spirit; bearing witness for Christ; and so forth. We all need to improve our use of these, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
But as important as these are, it seems to me they're more like the fuel in the engine, or the energy spun out by the engine, and not the engine itself. I'm trying to discern the engine and its various moving parts - that into which we should pour the fuel and out of which we hope to see the energy for revival, renewal, and awakening.
It seems to me there should be some components, common to any Christian endeavor, which, fueled with spiritual vision, disciplines, and practices, will generate and channel the energy required for Kingdom outcomes through all our endeavors.
I've been contemplating the Israelites as they prepared to enter the promised land. The exodus, wilderness journey, and conquest of Canaan are certainly the defining events of Israel's history. They unfold in dramatic detail over six books (Exodus-Judges) and are recalled, reviewed, and rehearsed numerous times in other places in the Old Testament. Is there a pattern or template or paradigm here to guide us in any endeavor of following the Lord into the realization of His promises? Whatever things were written aforetime, Paul tells, were meant to instruct and comfort us (Rom. 15.4). Perhaps there is more in this ancient story than what I've observed before?
I'm beginning to think it is so, and I'm hoping to clarify this template as I continue thinking about it. It's a bit like studying one of those "Magic Eye" pictures. Here's this intricately drawn or painted background - in our case, an historical narrative - replete with recognizable figures, repeated over and over. Interesting, but not especially illuminating. Yet within that background is a more compelling figure, a 3-D image waiting to announce itself to your seeking, contemplative eye. That's the real focus of the picture; it's just harder to discern than what's readily observable on the surface.
I believe there is a pattern for Christian endeavor embedded in the story of Israel's deliverance and settlement in the land of promise. Jesus seems to have recapitulated that story in certain ways, as if to refocus our thoughts on it, and to encourage us to see in Him the focus and fulfillment of the pattern (cf. Matt. 2.13-15).
So if there are components to be discerned here, they will all come up, around, and back to Jesus in one way or another. And, since the upward prize of the high calling God has for us is only fully realized in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3.14), then whatever these components are, they must have a Christo-centric commonality about them and contribute to embodying and proclaiming the reality of the risen and reigning Christ, no matter the endeavor in which we are involved.
If there is a pattern for Christian endeavor, a Kingdom-seeking template that applies to any endeavor in any age, then it behooves us to search it out. Your thoughts and suggestions are most welcome.