Accessing the Kingdom
In this post I want to continue the conversation of what it looks like to live a life at the pace of Jesus. Last time, I left you with the verse Matthew 6:25-34, the section titled in scripture Do Not Worry, and today I would like to dive more into what this verse has to say about hurry.
Here is that piece of scripture again,
Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In verses 25-27, Jesus tells us not to worry. Worry causes us to hurry because it gives us a feeling that something is wrong, and that we must fix it. We start to dread the future when we worry and because of that we have no peace in our present. Jesus tells us not to worry about our life and not to worry about our body. Throughout the Gospel, there are many instances where Jesus tells us not to be so concerned with food and drink because He can feed us in ways that satisfy us on a spiritual level. He provides when He feeds the five thousand and He provides when He rains down bread for the people because He knows what we need. But beyond that, our Lord feeds us on a spiritual level.
John 4:14 (NIV)
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
So, do not worry about what you will eat or drink because God will provide. Instead, focus on drinking from the eternal well, nourish your spirit by drawing close to the Lord, and He will fill you in deep ways.
Next, Jesus draws a parallel to nature. This is important because not only does it serve to show us how God provides for nature, so He will of course provide for us, but it also shows how in-tune Jesus is with nature. He often retreats into the mountains to be alone with the Lord. Jesus is consistently looking at the beauty that God has placed Him in, looking to nature to draw wisdom and life. Jesus lives and teaches at a pace that is slow enough to appreciate these things, to reflect on them, and see God in them. Lastly, in verse 27, Jesus points out how worrying only takes away from our time. It wastes our time just like hurry, and just like sin, that wants to see our time here on earth squandered.
In verses 28-32, Jesus focuses on clothing, and again looks to nature to inspire and teach us. He says the flowers do not “labor or spin” which is exactly what we do when we worry, when we get into a hurry; We work harder and move less, spinning out and tiring ourselves. The flowers are a creation of God, but with no free will to choose and no consciousness, so they have no choice but to be what God intended them to be. Can you imagine if we lived our life like that? Finding our beauty simply in what God intended us to be, in the identity He has written on our hearts. But because our God does not create robots and has given us free will, and because sin has entered the world, we clothe ourselves. Clothing in the scriptural sense is not jackets, pants, and shirts but are all the ways we try and hide our insecurities, all the ways we try and fit in. Clothing here means how we present ourselves to the world, and this often reflects how we view ourselves. We feel ashamed about things so we cover up our identity. We want to be who the world says we should be instead of who the Lord wants us to be so we mask ourselves. We can never fully feel accomplished in all this so we are constantly in a hurry, stressed that someone might see our true selves.
But if we can slow down enough to draw close to our Savior, to come back to who He says we are and who He wants us to be, our life would not be misspent trying to be someone we’re not. Our life would become deeper, richer, slower. We will find that the only clothing we need is the armor of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
When we deny clothing ourselves to please the world around us and hide things, and instead dress in this way, in the armor of God, we will remember all that God calls us to, all the ways He protects us, and ultimately, how much He loves us.
In verses 33-34, we get the answer to how to end worry, and ultimately hurry, in life. To address hurry in our life we must “seek first his kingdom and righteousness.” But what exactly is His kingdom and His righteousness? Jesus answers this for us.
Luke 17:20-21 (NIV)
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
The coming of the kingdom of God is not an event, the kingdom itself is not a location, the kingdom of God is in our midst. I truly believe that this means that we are in the kingdom right here, right now. The kingdom is the people around us and our environment. The kingdom is community. And how do we seek first this kingdom? Well, by being present. By engaging with Jesus in ourselves and finding Jesus in the people and things that make up our atmosphere. By being present with the kingdom, embracing it, we begin to discover God’s righteousness.
Romans 14:17 (NIV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Righteousness looks like being right with the Lord, with the people around us, and with our atmosphere. Doing that will bring peace to our lives, and that peace will bring deeply rooted joy. So, looking back to Matthew 6, when we seek first His kingdom, when we are present, “all of these things will be given to [us].” Jesus concludes in Matthew 6:34 by again telling us to not live worrying about the future, when we have enough in today to address.
My prayer for you is that you focus on Jesus in your present and that you begin to access the kingdom of God. You are already in it, you just need to embrace it. Living in the kingdom is a beautiful thing. It is extremely challenging, but it is something that I am working towards, and it looks a lot like trying to slow down and walk with Jesus in every moment, letting Him be at the forefront of my thoughts and actions. In Acts 4 there is a beautiful example of what living in the kingdom looks like. When we access the kingdom by being present we begin to live in the kind of community that our Savior has called us to; a community where the Gospel is not about a building, or about singing certain songs. It is not merely something you experience in your head, no, it is about Jesus and people. Living in the kingdom affects your heart, your actions, and your thoughts. Wealth is redefined. Being present with Jesus releases us from the control of our possessions because it reminds us that the love of God, the freedom and forgiveness from sin, is worth more than all that. So I pray, lean into the present, into the kingdom and let God not just be in your heart, but the king and ruler of it so that you may be right with Him and others, so that you may live in peace, and so that you may experience joy.