72 ÷ 12 = 6. 11 x 3 = 33. Those are the right answers. If that’s all that was written down on a math problem though, I’d see more red on that sheet than Bible pages with the Sermon on the Mount. Apparently, the teacher wanted to see my work. She wanted to know how I got to my answer. To this day, it’s one of the many reasons I despised math. As long as I had the right answer, and didn’t cheat, then it shouldn’t matter how I got the answer. In math you may be able to make a case for that, but in life, knowing the answer is only half the battle.
In Sunday school kids can answer almost any question with one name, Jesus. People can throw it out there, and it’s usually right. But knowing the name and understanding why it’s right are two completely different things. In Matthew 6 beginning in verse 23 Jesus commands us not to worry or be anxious. He goes on to reveal why. Namely our relationship with the God that is powerful enough, and cares for us enough to provide our needs. Trusting in Him lifts anxiety off of our shoulders to walk freely in the moment, knowing our future needs are already known and accounted for. He ends his lesson however with an exhortation, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Mt 6:33).” That is, we are to trust God while seeking His kingdom. As we relinquish our worries to God, we are given responsibility as well. So what does it mean to seek first the Kingdom of God?
A lot of people say they want to glorify God and just leave it there, but we can’t let ourselves off the hook too easily. Can we actually define what it looks like to seek the Kingdom of God in every area of our life? Have we ever fleshed out the details of what it means to seek the glory of God. If not, then it’s like sucking on a Blow-Pop, but throwing it out before getting to the gum. We’ve missed the point of what makes it a Blow-Pop. Saying let’s glorify God, without knowing how to glorify God, leads us to weakly glorify God, if at all. To help us chew on the practical realities of seeking the Kingdom of God, let’s list some examples of how an athlete could do so:
Helping Teammates - Uplifting Language - All Out Effort - Focusing on their Responsibility - Submitting to Coaches - Accepting Results with Grace - Being Thankful - Playing Within the Rules - Submitting to Officials - Seeking and Accepting Coaching - Motivated by Christ - Trusting God with Playing Time - Play for God not Man - Rejoicing with Teammates when they Succeed - Praying While Competing - Overcoming Mistakes - Respecting Opponents - Identifying Self with Christ - Seeking Forgiveness for Sin
The list is not exhaustive, but we can already see that this would change the way an athlete competes. If that's just a sport, then obviously the way we live would change too if we understood what it meant to seek first the Kingdom of God. Abstract ideas don’t lead to action. We need to take the time to think through what it looks like to seek first the Kingdom of God, specific to the roles we are in. There needs to be a plan in place, instead of thinking we will fall into it accidentally. When we don’t grow in our work towards the answer, we forget how to get there. Christ has made a way for us to go to the Father, and in doing so given us the ability to know Him in greater capacity. We have the privilege of showcasing God’s glory in all that we do, and reminding ourselves of His worth and provision. Knowing the answer without showing the work leaves us vulnerable in remembering how to get there. It all adds up.