By Mel Francis, Associate Elect at Lighthouse International
Six months ago, I sat down in floods of tears and prayed for a new life, one where I hadn’t made all the mistakes I had, hurt the people I had, made morally questionable choices and then justified them. I had finally reached a point in my journey towards accepting God into my life, after a year and a half of reading scripture and studying Christianity and apologetics, where I had decided that I wanted to give my life to Christ. I’d never felt anything quite that overpowering and disarming before in my life and I welcomed it. Shortly after that decision, a lot changed in my life. Now six months on, my journey has led me to think “ok, you had that experience, now what? How is your life any different?” Leading me to a profound question:
When I made that decision to commit my life to Christ, what changed in my heart and what still needs to change?
There were a few changes I made to my lifestyle but when we as a Christian contingent within my company read Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” we had to ask ourselves: is a ‘lifestyle change’, like diet or daily routines, what this gospel is about? What does this scripture actually mean? What does it mean to seek, and why first, and what are the things I’m going to be getting if I do?
Our Corrupt Egos Want The Kingdom Without Work
Every time I bring myself back to this scripture, I remember why it’s so profound to stay as grounded in it as possible and to view it with reality and truth. Because my old infant corrupt ego wants to read the sentence backwards, as in: ‘All things will be given to you because of the righteousness in God and His Kingdom’… This has a very different meaning obviously, and it is indicative of the corrupt ego; it is entitled and it wants a win/lose relationship with God.
I have heard this argument for faith before, that because God is loving and good that He will give us everything in heaven if we believe in Him, or that because God is loving that He ought to reward those who haven’t “done anything to hurt another person”. But there is so much more that the Bible teaches us about our responsibility to sacrifice our more base selves rather than sit back and expect a first-class ticket to the Kingdom. It is at best presumptuous. As Jesus spoke in Luke 9:23, saying, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” How can we expect anything from God if we do not extend ourselves for Him? After all, a loving relationship with another person is based on mutual love and respect, where each extends themselves for the other in equal balance, why would a relationship with God be any different?
What does it mean to seek first the Kingdom?
Matthew 6:33 highlights important lessons on how we can follow Christ and it’s in those first 3 keywords: seek, first and Kingdom.
Keyword number 1: seek. To look for, to investigate, to take an active role in pursuing. We cannot sit idly by and hope the Kingdom will come to us. This echoes what Jesus says about being his disciple – it’s hard work! We need to be willing to look. Where? Everywhere; in the world, in the people around us, but primarily in ourselves. We need to analyse our own character to humble ourselves as can be understood from the Sermon on the Mount which speaks a lot about the character of someone who will be in the Kingdom (those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and the pure in heart, amongst others).
Keyword number 2: first. Not second, not after breakfast, not after second breakfast, not when we feel like it. First. Why? Because if we want to have a win-win relationship with God, we need to be putting Him before ourselves. When we look at ourselves, do we think so highly of ourselves that we put ourselves and what we want and our agenda before God? And if so, where is our humility?
And keyword 3: Kingdom. The ‘dom’, the domain of the King, our Creator, our Lord. He is the source of all goodness, all love, all righteousness, all justice, all kindness. And the domain of God promises all these things; total and complete security, joy and peace. But we need to do the work (seek) before anything else (first). It follows naturally that if you pursue good things, that pursuit would bring forth good things, and if you pursue iniquitous things, iniquitous things would follow.
The Questions We Can Ask Ourselves
What I have discovered as I’m learning more about the meaning behind Christ’s teachings, is when we ask ourselves about whether we are seeking the Kingdom of God, we can ask ourselves 3 very powerful questions:
- The choices I am making today, are these what I want or what God wants?
- Am I being honest and truthful with myself about the work I need to do in myself to humble myself before God? What more could I do?
- Where is my egoic pride and my hubris in the way of me seeking first the Kingdom of God?
It is our responsibility as Christians to search our hearts and to be truthful to ourselves and God about where we are sinful, and where we have missed the mark and fallen short of what He wants for us. And the amazing news is that we can call on Him in prayer to help us, to help us see what we couldn’t see before and to be changed by His revelation. There are millions of people suffering in the world, people who Christ commanded us to care for, and we need to seek out in ourselves what prevents us from being able to help them, from finding a way to serve them. When we seek first the Kingdom of God, we are seeking what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves and what it means to love God. And through that see what flourishes and blooms to life because we are loving God as He commands us through work and self-extension. And indeed there is no love more fulfilling or rewarding.
Joining The Community: The Christian Response Forum
When it comes to our Christian duty and dedicating ourselves to seeking truth and seeking the highest ideal, it almost goes without saying that this is virtually impossible without community. The challenge with wanting to be truthful with ourselves is we can’t always see where we’re blindsided, where we need help and support around us, as well as who we can build healthy relationships with and who is able to ask us questions in order to seek the truth. That’s why Lighthouse International Group saw the need for and has set up, the Christian Response Forum; a community to help Christians find a way to respond to their need to develop the skills and resources they require to be able to respond inside and outside their front doors.
Are you clear in what it means to Seek First the Kingdom of God? Watch this video to learn more and subscribe to our Christian Response Forum YouTube Channel for regular updates.