December 15, 2014
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
There are priorities and then there is priority. The secret to life is knowing the difference.
I used to think life went best when I had my priorities ordered properly. It usually went something like God first, family second, me third.
I am learning the secret that life goes best when I have a priority rather than priorities. What do I mean by this?
Today’s text, while not a traditional scripture for Advent, makes it clear.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Notice what’s missing? We have a “first” but no “second.” That means we don’t have priorities; only a priority? The priority is the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. No matter what I’m doing, where I am or who I’m with, I can seek God’s Kingdom and his righteousness.
So what does it mean to seek his kingdom and righteousness? This is practically what the New Testament is all about. A good place to start is Matthew 5-7 and Jesus’ great Kingdom manifesto (a.k.a. The Sermon on the Mount). In short, to seek the Kingdom of God is to live our lives as though Jesus were in charge.
So what does this have to do with repentance, our focus for the week? Good question. The problem is with the way we define repentance. We want to make it pretty much about turning away from bad behavior. Repentance is bigger than that. The word actually means something like making a one hundred and eighty degree turn; an about face.
So what if repentance is actually more about what we turn toward than what we are turning away from?
I think repentance begins not with behavior but with priority. When we focus on behavior we can’t help but focus on ourselves. When we focus on priority we are focusing on something beyond ourselves. True repentance begins by resetting our focus on the person of Jesus Christ.
That seems like exactly what we want to be doing in Advent doesn’t it?
And when we get our priority right, notice what happens to “all these things.” That’s what I’m talking about.
PEOPLE GET READY! JESUS IS COMING.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at email@example.com.
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I agree. Priority precedes priorities. The essence of repentance is turning from sin and seeking God’s righteousness. Though it’s important to remember from whence we’ve come, it key is what direction we’re now going.
I am currently re-reading “The Robe”, the novel about the Roman tribune in charge of Christ’s crucifixion who wins Christ’s robe; he goes to Rome immediately afterwards but then returns to Israel a year later so that he can go to Galilee to learn more about Jesus. The story has a neat portrayal of the rank and file people of Galilee who actually encountered Jesus. At the point of the story I am currently at, the tribune, who does not yet know about what all happened after the crucifixion, is puzzled that the people will stop what they are doing and look around, “as if expecting to meet somebody.”
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