But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.–Matthew 6:33
What does that really mean? Jesus also said, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” Is this statement about eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood somehow related to seeking first the Kingdom? Yes. They mean exactly the same thing. To understand one is to completely understand the other. Jesus told His disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about. He went on to say, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” So, do we really comprehend what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God?
Let’s search for clues. What clues does Jesus give us about seeking/finding the Kingdom of God? We will begin by looking at a comparison. Jesus gives us a description filled with clues about those who DID NOT find the kingdom, and another story about those who DID! Look for all the clues in these two stories:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
In the story above, I find it interesting that those who pointed to themselves and brought up casting out devils in His name, prophesying in His name, and doing miracles in His name somehow ended up missing the whole point and are cast out! They did all these things IN HIS NAME, and yet they grossly misrepresented Him. He didn’t even know them. Why? They appear to be very conscious and self-aware about their works. They are self-absorbed. Jesus said it is because they DID NOT DO the will of the Father which is clearly stated in verse 12 saying, “Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Now let’s look at the description Jesus gives us of those who DID FIND the kingdom.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
It turns out that those who looked at what they had and then looked beyond themselves to feed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visit prisoners hit the nail on the head. Why did they find and inherit the Kingdom? In contrast, they were not self-aware and self-absorbed. They were not self-conscious about what they had done. They sort of “lost their lives”,as Jesus would say. They lived out, they fleshed out, the command of the King to “do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
So what did these have to give that the others didn’t? They had agape love that expressed itself through feeding, clothing, visiting. According to 1 Cor. 13, without the love of God working within, the outward acts of prophesying, having faith to move mountains, giving all your goods to feed the poor mean nothing. Agape love within makes the difference.
So, which ones sought and found the way of the Kingdom? The ones who followed the new Kingdom command to take the love that they had RECEIVED from Christ, and then GIVE it away to others. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” You see, these are the new rules of the King!
In Mark 12, we read of a man, who in a way, was playing a game of “hot and cold” with Jesus. At one point, this guy got really, really hot! Jesus told the guy, “You are really, really near the Kingdom!” Listen to the story and search for the clues.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”—Mark 12:29-34
How is it that this guy is so close, and yet, he still hadn’t found the Kingdom of God? What was missing from the equation? He definitely had the right answers, but he either didn’t recognize the King, or he wasn’t living out the answers. Once again we see loving others as being part of living out the Kingdom of God.
Let’s stop fooling around. Jesus gave us a very precise, pinpointed location for finding the Kingdom of God. There are two ways to interpret this verse, and both are right. In Luke 17:21 Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you”. Another version says, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst”. The key word is “entos” and it means both “within” or “among”. If Christ is abiding in you, then the Kingdom of God is “within” you. If Christ is working through you towards someone else, then the Kingdom is working in your midst among you. We experience the presence of God within, we experience another type of Gods’ presence without.
First, you have to be filled with His love “just as I have loved you”. You have to receive Him into your life. You can’t follow Him until you are linked in with Him. You have to believe in Him and His cause to the point that you want Him to live through you. You take on his flesh-actions, you take on His blood-life, and let Him live through you. When you receive His love by faith, you will begin to love yourself. When you love yourself, then you can obey His command to love others even as you love yourself. You can do to others what you would have them do to you. You love them the way He does. You begin to do all things through Christ who strengthens you. It’s not enough to just talk about Christ, you have to be possessed by Christ, and let Him live/love through you. This is step one of seeking the Kingdom. You need to be possessed by the King. Jesus said, If ye abide in me (like “eat my flesh”, take on my actions, “drink my blood”, take on my life), and my words abide in you, then you can ask and it will be given to you. That is starting to sound a lot like “Seek first the Kingdom…and things will be added to you”
If you are going to begin to “seek first the kingdom”, then it begins with finding and inviting King Jesus to come in and be “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. You cannot spread what you don’t possess within yourself. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have it, you can’t give it. If you are going to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then you need to let His love consume you daily, you need to begin within by receiving His forgiveness, forgiving others and forgiving yourself. You need to straighten out your identity, repent of your “woe is me” mindset, and see yourself as the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”. You need to declare what Christ says about you. Seeking first the Kingdom begins in Christ. It moves to Christ in you. That’s where you start looking. Look to Jesus and call for Him.
So what happens after you have sought for the freedom that comes with the truth of “Christ in you”, or the “kingdom of God is within you”? The more you develop within, the more treasure you will have to pour out. Listen to what Jesus said, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Wow! Jesus said that “you are the light of the world”. That means the Kingdom of God is within you. Now, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.
I believe the Kingdom of God is both a person (the King) and a way of living under His reign. You can’t have a Kingdom without a King, and no one is a King without subjects who obey. You have to have both. The Kingdom of God is “entos (both within and without/among). The Kingdom of God is faith within, coupled with works without. You can’t have a King without a Kingdom to practice His rule. And faith without works is dead.
So what is Seeking first the Kingdom? It is seeking the King; it is eating His flesh-taking on His actions; it is drinking His blood-taking on His life. It is loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is then loving your neighbor as yourself. It is just as He has loved us, so should we love one another. It is to do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. And when you have done it unto the least of these, then you have done it unto Him. Not only are you “eating his flesh” taking Him within, but know you are branching out with love towards others as He did and you are eating the food that He said you previously knew nothing about. You are fulfilling the work of the Kingdom.
Fulfilling the two great commandments is what seeking the kingdom is all about.
So, come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. In other words, your search for the Kingdom is over. It began with the King coming to you, then the Kingdom was within you, then the Kingdom spread among you, and now you are fully encompassed in His Kingdom.