By Jocelyn Santos
Last semester my small group (formerly known as grow group) read a book called The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus. The heart of the book was to refocus those who call themselves Christians and wake us up from living with a “civilized faith.” It proved challenging to each of us at various points. As I sat down to write this blog post, all I could think of was the act of living with a barbarian-like faith. Don’t worry, that language also tripped me up and was probably the only negative part of the book (sorry, Erwin). If seeking first the kingdom requires much more than just belief in the sonship, death, and resurrection of Christ, then what is the “much more?”
The posture of “seeking first the kingdom” is apart of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
In this sermon he is teaching us how to live according to the will of God in just about every realm of our lives from finances, to friends, to business.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
I don’t think I’d be far off in saying that what it looks like to seek first the kingdom is in fact living in complete surrender to the heart and will of God. We say we surrender our lives to God when we declare our faith in Christ, but in practice sometimes we shut ourselves off to surrender. I know there are times when I want to hold on when the Lord says “let go;” when I want to go and the Lord says “be still.” Surrendering to the will of the Lord looks like actively including him in every single part of our lives and saying “not my will, but yours be done.” It’s hard and it’s gritty — sometimes its down right painful — but the King who has woven you together, the one that keeps the universe in motion and on the right course, has the best intentions. Always.
I can’t talk about the posture of surrender without touching on that one thing we as humans all collectively fail at: obedience. *Stops writing for 5 minutes as the Lord deals with my own disobedience.* Obedience is the key ingredient in surrender. We have to be obedient in the small ways to build up our ability to remain obedient in the hard things. Are you properly caring for the body the Lord has gifted you with? Are you setting apart time to hear his voice? Are you tending to the shelter Abba has provided? Are you silencing your constant desires to hear his? Are you stewarding finances he’s blessed you with? These are all practical, yet vital examples of obedience and surrender. When we practice living in obedience in the small things, when the time comes that the Lord commands you to “be strong and courageous” to usher forth his kingdom on this earth, you’ll know you’ve built up the faith it takes to obey.
Be strong and courageous. Seeking the Kingdom requires courage. It’s not something that is optional in this walk with Christ. More often than not, the will of God is something that we cannot possibly comprehend and yet, in obedience, we must do what the Lord is speaking. That requires courage. It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to not understand, it’s even okay to hesitate. But let us refuse to be a people who choose not to submit to God’s will and miss the opportunity to witness His goodness.
Seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness is not just meant to build our faith. Not just to make us better people. Not just to make us more prosperous or to make us “favored children of God.” At the core of who I am, I believe it is so that we and those around us, and far beyond us, may see his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. That more people would come to experience his life changing love, that they may come to know the personal and relational God we have the privilege of doing life with.