Seek Ye First...
Most of us have sang the song, Seek Ye First. It has been around a while… a least since the 60’s. It is based upon Matthew 6:33, part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (King James Version) It is part of the sermon where Jesus is asking the people gathered around him why they worry about such things as where they will live and what they will eat, or what they will wear. “Look at the birds of the air; they do no sow or reap, or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt 6:26-27)
That passage was the scripture passage for the Bachelorette service when I graduated from High School 40+ years ago. I remember hearing those words and being profoundly affected, so much so that I carefully folded the paper it was printed on and placed in my wallet. I don’t think I ever looked at it again, until about six months later. I had recently committed my life to follow Jesus. As I took that page out of my wallet, I remember being quite shaken by the idea that I needed to trust God for everything… yes everything.
Seeking first God’s Kingdom is about more than just reading the Bible every day and saying one’s prayers. It has to do with seeking to know God more intimately every day, every moment of every day. A few minutes ago, as I was pulling up to a stop sign on my way to drop Josh off for his job, I was close enough (at the stop sign) to read the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. “Do you follow Jesus this close?” Great question! But it did make me think. Is there a difference between “following Jesus”, doing the things Jesus did and seeking Jesus’ Kingdom? It seems to me that in one (following) I am simply trying to follow the practices of Jesus while I go about my usual business. In the other, (seeking) I am carefully looking to see what Jesus’ business is and seeking to make that my business.
St. Francis of Assisi was confronted by his father and the Bishop of his home town with the accusation that he was not a good son because he quoted the above verse as he gave his, and his dad’s merchandise to the poor. They told him he was wrong to do so because everything he had was given to him by his dad. Francis was quick to agree with them. He had lived a great life of privilege at this dad’s expense. He was being a good follower of Jesus. So, the young man did what those who seek the Kingdom do… he took all of his clothes off, including any jewelry. He then proceeded to walk out the city gates in complete dependence upon his heavenly Father.
HHMMM? What would happen if all of us who are “followers of Jesus” began to try to be “seekers of the Kingdom”? It might change the world.