When Jesus says not to worry about our life or our bodies (Matthew chapter 6, verses 25–34), a kind of anxiety that affects us all, he offers an alternative suggestion; 'seek first the Kingdom'.
He gives us a glimpse of something different and wonderful, an alternative to a rat race... an alternative to a 'pagan run'.
The problem for me is this; I worry, I get anxious, and in turn I put all my energy into securing those things we were told not to worry about. We worry about what we will eat and drink, and about what we will wear. I find it interesting that Jesus does not tell us not to worry about where we will live, sometimes I worry about where I will live...
What follows closely behind worry is what could be called the 'pagan run', an infatuation and devotion to easing the stress caused by worry. In the 'pagan run' you run hard for housing, or food, or clothing, or furniture, or cars, or anything. Maybe we hear the words of Jesus whispered in our ears 'do not worry... for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them' (Matthew chapter 6, verses 31–32). Maybe we think Jesus was just teasing us with impossibilities...
I have had many attempts in 'not worrying' and 'seeking first' only to find that I am again running the 'pagan run'. The 'pagan run' is a not a nice run, I do not believe I need to describe this more. You probably know more deeply than I the hardness, and never ending demands of 'the pagan run'.
I have found, from the humble success I have had in attempting Jesus' alternative to not worry and seek first the Kingdom, that faith comes from an action, you need to step out. I have also found that the Lord is faithful; Praise God.
One issue with stepping out in faith to seek first the Kingdom is that it is a profoundly vague assignment. Does seeking first the Kingdom equate to going to Church, or becoming a religious Christian? I do not think that this is what Jesus was talking about when he says 'seek'. Does it mean giving to the poor, I still do not think this is the priority.
I believe that everyone has vague, nagging dreams or ideas that continually demand expression. They are pictures in your mind of potential, be it relational or material, that you long for. In the times you sit in silence they either captivate or haunt you - I believe these are glimpses of the Kingdom that God has placed in our hearts, and it is these things that Jesus is speaking of when he says 'seek first'.
'like many things'
I think there is a reason why the bible does not make the Kingdom synonymous to any one thing, but it is like many things. These things are planted in people and stepping out in faith is the only way to make them grow. To be pagan means to be an unbeliever. Perhaps it is not so much that the pagan doesn't believe in God, but that the pagan doesn't believe in the things put in their heart by God. Perhaps if the pagan starts to believe in the things in their hearts, just maybe they will believe in the one who put them there...
The challenge is this; are you prepared to follow something that you cannot yet fully visualise or understand, something that others will condescend or oppose? Are you prepared to explore a facet of you personality that you have never been able to work out? I wonder what Jesus was expecting when he said those words 'seek first', was he expecting people to actually seek these things first, did he really think people would do this?
You only seek something you haven't yet found! I haven't found it yet but I am seeking. I think Jesus believed some people would seek...
Jesus ends this little discourse with a promise... that if you seek first the Kingdom, the things of the pagan run (I am paraphrasing here) will be given to you anyway.
Please seek first!
First published January 21, 2014
Jared Diprose is a graduate from Carey Baptist College in New Zealand. He runs a small creative fabrication business, giving shape to peoples ideas. He hopes that with his words and his works others may be nudged toward living life to the fullest. Check out some of his work at: www.jareddiprose.co.n
Jared Diprose' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jared-diprose.html