I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Sermon on the Mount lately. One commentator said that it had an unfortunate title because it would make much more sense as “Discipleship Guide.” That’s because the people being addressed are seen as members of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, if their citizenship has changed, it would be helpful to review the new standards. Otherwise, it might be like going to China and demanding your 2nd Amendment rights.
The citizenship/membership idea really caught me sideways.
You have to keep in mind that I’ve spent more time in church than the Pope, even with the absent years of the early/mid twenties. I already “know” every story in the Bible and had most of it figured out by the time I was 20. And I kind of just saw that section as a good plumb line for evaluation – kind of “here are some impossible ideals, but give ‘em your best shot.”
When I got to the section on worrying in chapter 6 of Matthew it was just too much.
Not because I spend tons of time worrying, but because I’m good at working out contingencies for the “what ifs” of life.
What if I get fired?
What if my truck blows up?
What if I never find my perfect niche in life?
Sure, I trust God, but I’ll be better able to trust him when I get that 6 months of living expenses tucked away. I mean, I really trust God, but I think I’ll be better able to trust him when I have some sort of binding employment contract. Seriously I really, really trust God but I’ll be in a better position to trust him when I have a ten-year plan completely hammered out.
If you couldn’t tell, that’s not trust at all. Preparation is good and well, and keeping an eye on the future is fine, too. But it’s a problem when preparation becomes a process of trying to eliminate every possible risk in life.
And where there is no risk, I don’t need any faith. I don’t have to trust God if I’ve already worked out all the details.
Seeking the Kingdom of God first literally means the spiritual matters of life take priority and, while I’m spending my time seeking the Kingdom, I trust God that he will work things out to give me the necessities of life.
Because if all of my energy is spent safeguarding this life, I neglect that my citizenship is not here but in the Kingdom of God.
But what about third world nations where people die of starvation and war-torn countries where entire villages are massacred? What if they were seeking the Kingdom when they died? How does that show God coming through for them? Good question. I don’t know. But it doesn’t change the application that I am supposed to trust God and seek his Kingdom first.
It helped me out quite a bit to see that trusting God and seeking his Kingdom are tough ideas to separate.
Have you ever met someone going through horrible life circumstances and it seems like one thing after the other just keeps failing? But that person has complete confidence that God will work things out one way or another? That’s trust and that person has it because they’re seeking the Kingdom first and the rest is details.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, do you know any drama queens? They’re a lot more prevalent, so you probably do. The 401k was down last quarter, their iPhone never works right, the dry cleaning wasn’t ready when they needed it and, as far as they are concerned, all of heaven and earth is crashing down around them. These are first world problems, and they show almost no trust in the Almighty. Maybe because there’s so much entanglement in this kingdom.
I’m not a guru and I still worry more than I should, but it made a big difference for me to see that worrying and trusting are directly related to which kingdom I’m seeking first.
I’m still working on it, so don’t get after me too bad if I freak out on Twitter about energy commodities.
*Photo credit: Virtual EyeSee