Friday, February 17, 2012

Looking for God's Stuff

What would the things of God be?  

I imagine God toying with a nebula or stoking the flames of a supernova.  

In my last post Trifecta, I said that what we should be doing - rather than stressing - is seeking after the things of God.  Well, what are the 'things of God'?  And how do we seek after them?  

That phrase is a reference to the passages in Matthew 6 and Luke 12 where Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about the things of this earth.  What is actually stated there in both passages is that the disciples should 'seek after His kingdom'.  The Matthew passages also adds 'His righteousness'.  There are some other somewhat enigmatic references in these chapters about selling possessions, money belts that don't wear out, storing up things in heaven and about how the eye gives light to the whole body. 

Rather than try to explain all this, allow me to simply post the passages and get your thoughts.

Matthew 6
 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Luke 12 adds:
 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
 32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
 33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

What are we supposed to be doing?
And what are we usually doing that isn't really all that meaningful?



  1. I'm doing the chapel service next week for our local Christian school, for the first time. So just a couple days ago, I observed what their chapels are like and the pastor who shared spoke on this very topic (so nice timing!)

    He pointed out that the word "worry" at it's core means "to care for" - so worrying, is caring too much for something. Spending too much of yourself on something - whether it's working for it, being afraid you won't have it, overly protecting it, etc.

    When I thought about that, in conjunction with things I've thought on this passage before, I was led to think that worrying is being afraid that God won't look out for me. It's running around trying to hold things together, instead of trusting that God can make even the worst of circumstances work out for good.

    Worry is fear...and it means I need to go back to try and grasp that God loves me, and perfect love casts out fear. If God loves me, I don't have to be afraid. I don't have to worry.

  2. Yeah, I like that. Worry, or 'overcare' works itself out in so many negative ways. Anxiety, anger. It almost seems like a sin fuel to me. Maybe there are many 'sin fuels' like this that we pour into our lives and then wonder why we have so much trouble. I truly believe we are highly subjective, if not seriously deluded, about our own situation most of the time. Which is why we need Gods word, absolute truth, to keep us on the right track. Or we have absolutely no reference point.

  3. Nice topic bro. I think that whenever I've read those passages in the past, I've focused on the theme of "don't worry....God will provide". Now that's totally an important truth being stated in these passages, but it also tells us what TO do, and that's the "seek first the Kingdom of God".

    I think I've always sorta glossed over this part, and I think the reason why is because it's sort of abstract. When I see the word "kingdom", I think of a place. A country perhaps, that's ruled by a king. So when you tell me to seek a kingdom, my mind thinks "look for a certain place". Now my mind also tells me that there is no specific place (in this world) where I have to travel to in order to find God. So in that sense, it's fairly abstract.

    However, if you look at the words originally used in the greek that are translated "Kingdom of God", you see Basileia Theos. Basileia is the word commonly translated as "kingdom". However, some of the other meanings of this word are interesting. It can also mean "kingship", "reign", "royalty", or "rule". I actually think that words such as those help me envision the concept better than does "kingdom".

    Looked at in that light, verse 33 could possibly be translated "Allow God to rule in your life, and He will give you everything you need".

    1. Yeah, 'seeking a kingdom' is part of the abstract-ness of much of this passage. Of course, a lot of what Jesus and the bible says tends towards the abstract because we are often talking about spiritual realities, not physical ones. So we get parables and analogies to help us understand.

      I like your translation. I looked at a more literal translation that also said, 'seek first the reign of God and His righteousness'. The Amplified bible says: But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

      The Message says: 33Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
      34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

      The fascinating thought out of that for me is - God designed all of life and decreed how it should work ideally. When we stay within His guidelines (seek His righteousness or RIGHT-ness) live out and promote standards based on true truth (as Francis Schaeffer would say) then we are in harmony and cooperation with reality as He made it and meant it to be.

  4. Dallas Willard has described the kingdom of God as "everywhere God's will is done". Essentially meaning something like, wherever the king's will is being followed is where he rules. So, obviously, God's will is always done in heaven. But here on earth, God's will is not always carried out by people. We don't always do what God wants to be done, far from it. Another place to see this concept is in the Lord's Prayer - your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. It's spelled out right there. God, help us bring your kingdom here. Help us do your will here, as it's already being done in heaven. Or, another statement - the kingdom of heaven is within you. When we get God's Spirit within us, we essentially become little contact points of God's kingdom here on earth (we don't always carry it out perfectly) but it's like God is using us to break his kingdom/rule/authority into the world!

    1. Excellent, thanks for the clarifying thoughts. I want to say that it's so different and so much easier in heaven for God's will to be done. What's the alternative? However, I do know of one mass rebellion that took place right there in God's face. Is it possible to sin in heaven?

      Also, I wonder if the 'kingdom coming' in the Lord's Prayer could refer to the 'new earth' when God will reign here. If so, then it seems it's a different application from 'seeking first the kingdom of God'.

  5. Check out this interesting treatment of the 'kingdom of God' by Russel Moore. It's 'already - not yet'.