Kingdom of God. Matt 6,33
Kingdom of God Matt 6:33
33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
My son has a story about a castle where the most delectable muffins in the world were made. People would come from far and wide to eat the muffins. They were so tasty, they were really good news.
Unfortunately in that land there was a large dragon like creature who ate only one form of food – muffins! Not surprisingly, he was called the Muffin Muncher.
Now one day the Muffin Muncher was in the vicinity of the castle and a whiff of fresh hot muffins filled the air. He plodded over towards the castle just as a cart full of fresh hot muffins left the castle on its way to market. Immediately the muffin muncher fell on the cart and devoured all the muffins.
Quickly the people ran back into the castle and pulled up the drawbridge. The Muffin Muncher could not get in and so the people were safe.
However, with no way of getting the muffins to the market, the people soon stopped making muffins. With no muffins to sell there was no income for the castle and the people could no longer afford wood to keep the ovens hot. Slowly the castle fell into disrepair and the people instead of coming to buy fresh hot muffins at the market, began to move away.
One day the Muffin Muncher called out to the people in the castle, “Where are the muffins. I’m so hungry!”
The people in the castle, though rather terrified of the Muffin Muncher explained that because he ate all the muffins they made, they could no longer afford to make any more muffins because they could no longer afford any wood for the fire.
The Muffin Muncher thought and thought and then he had an idea. Being a fire breathing dragon, he would keep the fires in the oven alight so the people could make muffins and in exchange rather than having to buy wood, they could feed the Muffin Muncher instead.
This was a superb agreement. The people of the castle were able to get back into production and once again the best muffins of the land were being produced. People flocked back to the area to buy the muffins and once again the district became profitable.
It just goes to show that major problems in life can either be used as a stumbling block or as a motivation to change the way we look at a problem.
Now it should be becoming obvious that the castle is like the church. We have a message of Good News to sell at the market place of life, but as the world has attacked us for our message, (just as the Muffin Muncher ate the good news muffins), we have retreated into the church and pulled up the drawbridge. The church can stay locked inside its walls defensively justifying its position, or it can use the problems we face as the motivation to get us out of our complacency and back into the work for which we were called.
But this will not happen until we change our heart attitude; that is until we accept the purpose for which we exist and understand the capacity we have in Christ to fulfil that purpose.
Now let me turn the focus on to us as a local church. We see ourselves as a church, don’t we? When we see ourselves in this light we think of ourselves as belonging to a particular building where people of similar faith, ideas and values gather together. People are welcome to join us and we love it when new people come along. Church is a place where people come.
But we are often trapped inside our building unable to take our message out into the market place because we are scared of rejection, or scared of getting eaten or damaged by the muffin muchers who are unbelievers in our society.
Christianity is a difficult message to proclaim because it may get us offside with the world in which we live, because it will challenge people at the heart of their lives and call for a change.
If we are to move out from our church, we have to change the way we see things. Today in Matthew 6:33, we heard that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God.
We are in an era when talking about being church has inoculated us against the truth that Jesus proclaimed. Jesus did not create a church but a movement within the hearts of believers. He did not say, “The church has come, repent and believe the good news.”
No! Rather Jesus said,
“The time has come. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus proclaimed a kingdom, not a church.
So what is this kingdom?
How do we enter into it?
What do we need to do be in the Kingdom?
The Kingdom of God is the rule or reign of God in the life of believers. It is not a physical kingdom but a movement where Jesus is received as Lord, and the life of a believer is submitted to Jesus as Lord.
The Kingdom begins as a small seed of faith. Jesus said it is,
like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
The Kingdom of God begins as a small seed of faith planted in our hearts that grows and grows affecting others around us.
Again it is like,
“…yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
The Kingdom when it is received into our lives is almost unnoticeable. But it begins a work of change in our lives, working into every corner of our being causing change and turning our character into a reflection of Christ’s character.
But for Jesus to begin his work in our lives, we need first to enter into the Kingdom.
The prerequisite for entry into the Kingdom is found in Mark 1:15,
15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The prerequisite for entry into the Kingdom of God is to “Repent and believe.”
From what do we repent? Acts 3:19 states,
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
It is therefore from our sins that we repent. Now that is half of the entry criteria. The second half is to believe the Good News.
Now we may say, “I have repented and I do believe in the Good News that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has come with salvation for the world.” So we are in! But, ….. and this is what we need to know, ….. there are things we need to do to remain in the kingdom.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33,
33 But seek first his kingdom
and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
The key for remaining in the Kingdom is living in the righteousness of God. What is righteousness?
Righteousness is the state of living in the condition that is acceptable to God. It is living in a state of integrity, that is what we say lines up with what we do. It is living a pure life, having a correctness of thinking, feeling and acting.
This means that when we are not living in the righteousness of God, when we are not living as God has revealed we should, we step outside the boundaries of the kingdom. Jesus warns us that there are many who are among the people of the kingdom who will not be accepted into heaven. See Matthew 13:41,
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
You see, to say we have repented and that we are now in the kingdom of God does not always guarantee that we can remain in that position. To remain in the Kingdom of God requires that we conform our lives to the teaching of Christ. The longer we live in the Kingdom, the more that is required of us as our awareness of the teaching of Christ grows.
In Ephesians 5:5 we read,
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
It is impossible to hold together the ways of the world and the ways of God. If we are to remain in the Kingdom of God we are to keep growing in the ways of God, to live lives that are pure and holy.
So God is interested in the formation of our Christian character, seeing our lives transformed bit by bit to reflect the glory of God himself.
Jesus’ Kingdom grows within the life of the believer, and as it grows, the life of the believer begins to reflect the power and authority of Christ himself. As our life is submitted to Jesus, bit by bit, inch by inch we begin to reflect the very nature and purpose of God. The full power and might of God is within us.
Jesus spoke with authority and power. We read in Luke 4:36,
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”
Andrew Murray writes,
“For where can God’s Kingdom become, but where every other power but his is at an end and driven out of it.”
Within the life of the believer, it is as we are transformed by the Word of God, as we are renewed that the life of Jesus affects those around us.
But the scriptures too warn us of reasons why the power and authority of God have little effect in our lives.
First is a lack of faith. In Matthew 13:58 we read of Jesus at Nazareth,
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Do you know that the hardest place for the power of God to be demonstrated is here among our own congregation. Why? Because you all are used to each member doing certain things and so the expectations of God working in a powerful way among us is very low, such that there is little faith here.
Why is it that people will go up for an altar call with a guest speaker but not in a normal Sunday service? You might say that a guest speaker has an anointing to draw people to a new commitment. But that anointing is here in our local congregation also. The reason is that we become resistant to the move of God at the local level. Our hearts become hardened to what Jesus wants to do among us because our faith level is low and we do not expect to see the power of God at work among us for healing and miracles.
As we increase our faith, we are able to do more. As we resist being attached to the ways of the world, God can begin to bring change within our lives and within our church. As we begin to focus more on the Kingdom of God and less on ourselves, we will begin to see the breakthroughs we so desperately need at the local level.
What prevents the power and authority of God among us when we are members of the Kingdom of God among whom the whole of the power of God has been released? It is us. It is our lack of faith. It is our lack of expectation. It is our attachment to the things of this world – to our comfort zones, rather than to Jesus Christ himself.
So, we can be like the muffin makers trapped in our church through our lack of faith or we can begin to live by the values of the Kingdom of God using the problems we face as stepping stones to releasing the power of God amongst us.
As we renew our minds, as we release our grip on our money, as we turn from seeking our own comfort and pleasure and as we seek first the Kingdom of God, then God can fill us with his blessings.
Now the last part of Matthew 6:33 reads,
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
What things is Jesus talking about? Merely the provision of all our food and clothing. In other words, if we get our perspective right and seek first the kingdom of God rather than our own needs, God will provide our needs. If it is healing we need, God will grant it. If it is money we need, God will provide it. Is it food? We will receive it.
The key to releasing the blessing of God in our lives is to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. When we are concerned with doing the will of God and our focus is on spreading the message of the kingdom, God will supply all our needs. Philippians 4:19 states,
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
God’s riches are in heaven waiting to be accessed by those who have put first the Kingdom of God. They are supplied freely to those who live according to the Biblical standards, whose lives reflect the righteousness of God and who are seeking to plant the seed of God’s Kingdom in the lives of others through Word and action.
But if we are more concerned about our own welfare, making sure that we are safe and secure, that we have enough to eat and enough put away for our retirement, or for the children’s education and therefore we selfishly withhold needed resources from the Kingdom of God, then the flow of God’s provision will be stymied.
The Kingdom requires that we abandon our own needs in preference for the mission of the Kingdom. The same is true for us as a church. Do we look first to our own needs or to the mission of the Kingdom of God. The focus of Jesus was to do the Will of his Father, to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Where we put first our church and fail to live by Kingdom values, we cannot receive the blessing that God would want to give us. To receive God’s blessing is going to require a radical turn around in our thinking as a church and as individuals before God.
The challenge before us is to examine God’s requirements to be members of his Kingdom. First, have we met the entry criteria? Have we repented of our sins and do we believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation? If not we have some work to do there. Second, are we living a righteous life through Jesus living in us? Has the character of Christ been formed within us? Third and as proof that we are living in the Kingdom of God, is God supplying all our needs, or are we keeping hold of areas that prevent the blessing of God from flowing our way? If we are failing to live in total submission to all God requires of us, we may well find we are among the weeds that have grown in the field alongside the true plants and that are thrown into the fire at the reaping of the harvest of souls. Much is required of us to be members of the Kingdom of God – nothing short of the whole of our lives!