Really?! A First Priority?

Written By: Chris Mace
Really?! A First Priority?

Eagles searching for lunch, Sullivan, Maine

What in the world was Jesus talking about when he made this mind stopping statement? “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? …do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

If we believe in a God who is good and loving, we easily accept that God values mankind in a uniquely special way. His extreme mercy and grace are revealed in Christ, whose sacrificial work for us reconnects us with God when we avail ourselves of that love and the redemption it provides. But what about the claim that God’s care is so personal that we should not “be anxious” about the things we need? That idea seems a bit baffling because we have had to scramble to sustain ourselves ever since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden!

However, Jesus modeled this peace for us. Trusting his Heavenly Father was a  reality for this much beleaguered, hard working, weary worn, poor Rabbi, who had no place to call home and who faced all the trials and temptations and needs of humans. He came to share in the human experience and heal it. In the darkest of moments he could and would pray with integrity  “not my will but Yours be done.”

In that setting, Jesus’ words take on substance. He had winnowed out the fact that life  is not just about one’s own humanity but is about seeking God’s Kingdom, which on the surface is a baffling place where the happy carry the cross of self denial daily, where satisfaction comes through self-sacrifice, where righteousness has nothing to do with individual effort but is a gift given by God, and where the happy are not only repentant,  humble, merciful, and peace loving, but their journey takes them through mourning, persecution and even death because of their devotion to God, who is their protector!! (Mathew 5-7) On the surface, living in this Kingdom may have limited appeal to self oriented humanity. However, the trade off is attaining what we desire and work for in this life. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

The primary purposes and meaning of life are found in our Creator and His purposes, not in gourmet food, designer clothes, or mini-mansions, not in expending the energy and worry of accumulating, attaining, and possessing. So, Christ cautioned his followers against anxiously and exhaustingly chasing meaningless dreams or cluttering minds with trivial pursuits or devoting means to personal idols and allowing self and stuff to become the empty treasures of a life instead of finding satisfaction in who they were created to be. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-34)

This spiritual Kingdom is a priority-must. “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and all these things will be added to you. Kingdom values are ever enduring, always contemporary, extremely important, and spiritually fulfilling principles which are relational in nature and are defined by love. Loving God with all ones being and loving one’s neighbor unconditionally will  bring joy, meet the requirements for a purposeful life, and have eternal benefit which can not come from obsessing about, totally investing in, and becoming anxious over material things which will disappoint and disappear. Seeking God places desires and pursuits into right perspective. Christ encouraged taking the long view, considering the end of the game.

He showed the way to fulfillment. He loved God with all his being and elevated his love for “neighbors” to the point he died for us. His self denial not only marked out the course to the Kingdom but is the Way into the Kingdom of God through faith in his redemptive work for us. His Gospel empowers one to live the graces extended to us and emboldens one to confidently trust, to “not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”


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