Seek ye first the kingdom of God And God’s righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Allelu, hallelujah
I learned this song when I was a kid at church camp. (Or was it on a Psalty the Songbook album?) They are Jesus’ own words, rendered in the King’s English and set to music.
“How might this change the way we live?” your Immerse group host may ask. If we took these words of Jesus to heart, what would be different about our individual lives, our family lives, our life together as a community of Jesus called Zion?
Worth wondering at the start of a new year, when many make certain resolutions. What could a resolution to seek first God’s kingdom look like, sound like, feel like?
Starting or continuing our Immerse reading could be a part. In fact, you’ve maybe already read these words recently in Luke, at the bottom of page 34 in your Immerse bible.
Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. … Don't worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”
You may read another version in Matthew, on page 322, part of the reading assigned for Tuesday, February 22.
A devotion of scripture reading has planted a kind of compass in my heart, or refined and fine-tuned it. So much worry interferes and can make that kingdom-compass needle spin and shake. Reading and practices of prayer and quiet help me fall through the worry into the trusting inner surrender that makes that kingdom-compass strong and steady. (Not that I’m always eager to follow!)
Keeping the main thing the main thing is harder than it seems. It can be so easy to be riding the worry train while convincing ourselves we’re actually seeking the kingdom. Either/or thinking, superiority (or inferiority) thinking, blame, power struggles—these are all warning signs.
“Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people,” Richard Rohr says, “until you get to any real issues of ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. Then we tend to be pretty much like everybody else.”
Our awareness is our greatest asset. Catching ourselves in the act is not a reason for despair or beating ourselves up. It’s a reason for hope: now we have a choice! We’re free to seek God’s kingdom above all else.
Once, before dinner with friends, their family sang, “Seek Ye First” as grace. Which was a gracious wake up and choose moment for me. We get to be intentional and to keep reminding ourselves and each other.
I know of a pastor who appointed “Do not be afraid!” angels for council and congregational meetings. Biblical angels, like the ones who visited the shepherds, always begin by saying “Do not be afraid!” So this pastor invited a few people simply to pay attention to the emotion under the conversation. And then, when fear or worry and friends started to drive it, for these “angels” to interrupt and shout, “Do not be afraid!”
“It’s good for a laugh, if we’re not taking ourselves too seriously,” the pastor told me. That and a deep breath is sometimes all it takes to free us again to seek ye first. Singing can do the trick too.
Who are the angels who help you notice and move through and beyond your fear, so you can seek first God’s kingdom?
For whom are you such an angel?
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith