Grace For The Journey
When you look around you, it seems like everyone has an agenda. People have plans, programs, things they want to accomplish, and specific ways they want to accomplish them. They make lists, set goals and try to reach them. Maybe you’ve got your own agenda as well.
God is no stranger to agendas. In fact, He has an agenda, too; something He wants to accomplish in His way. The Bible calls this agenda “God’s kingdom.” The kingdom of God is the alternative to the kingdom of this world. An “alternative” simply means that it is another way; there is another idea on the table. As God’s people, we are not limited by the choices this world offers us. God has an alternative plan for us – called His kingdom agenda.
The unifying central theme throughout the Bible is the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom. The unifying thread from Genesis to Revelation – from beginning to end – is focused on one thing: God’s glory through advancing God’s Kingdom.
When you do not focus on that theme, the Bible is seen as disconnected stories which may be great for inspiration but seem to be unrelated in purpose and direction. The Bible exists to share God’s movement in history toward the establishment and expansion of His Kingdom. It highlights the way His kingdom will came and be done on earth as it is in heaven. Understanding this principle increases the relevancy of this several thousand year-old manuscript to our everyday life, because the Kingdom is not only then, it is now.
Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33). Jesus is telling us that our first agenda in life should be to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world. Primarily, it means we are to seek the salvation that comes through Jesus and the way of life He gives because it is of greater value than all the world’s riches.
Does this mean that we should neglect the reasonable and daily duties that help sustain our lives? Certainly not! But for the Christian, there should be a difference in attitude toward them. If we are taking care of God’s business as a priority – seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the kingdom with others – then He will take care of our business as He promised – and if that’s the arrangement, where is worrying?
But how do we know if we’re truly seeking God’s kingdom first? There are a couple of questions we can ask that will help us answer that question:
- Where do I primarily spend my energies?
- Is all my time and money spent on goods and activities that will certainly perish, or in the services of God – the results of which live on for eternity?
God has promised to provide for His own, supplying every need (Philippians 4:19), but His idea of what we need is often different from ours, and His timing will only occasionally meet our expectations. For example, we may see our need as riches or advancement, but perhaps God knows that what we truly need is a time of poverty, loss or solitude. When this happens, we are in good company. God loved both Job and Elijah, but He allowed Satan to absolutely pound Job (all under His watchful eye), and He let that evil woman, Jezebel, break the spirit of His own prophet Elijah (Job 1-1; 1 Kings 18-19). In both cases, God followed these trials with restoration and sustenance.
These “negative” aspects of the kingdom run counter to a heresy which is gaining ground around the world, the so-called “prosperity” gospel. A growing number of false teachers are gathering followers under the message “God wants you to be rich!” But that philosophy is not the counsel of the Bible – and it is certainly not the counsel of Matthew 6:33, which is not a formula for gaining wealth. It is a description of how God works. Jesus taught that our focus should be away from this world – its status and its deceptive allurements – and placed upon the things of God’s kingdom.
The world is full of people who are scrambling to fulfill a miniscule mission as they race through life toward the finish line. A miniscule mission is a one where self is on the throne and you live within the narrow borders of your own little life. It is that place where your heart beats for you and only you. It is a life marked by self-satisfaction, self-survival, self-importance, and schedules filled with self-satisfying pursuits.
We expect this kind of tunnel vision from those who do not know Christ; tragically, many in the church who proclaim His name are also embarked on miniscule missions. They are more concerned about advancing the cause of their own little kingdom than expanding God’s BIG kingdom.
So . . . how is it with you? Are you on a miniscule mission? Or are you pouring yourself out to advance the cause of the kingdom of Christ?
Did you know that the Bible never tells us to simply seek the kingdom of God? It tells us to seek it first! We are not to pursue the advancement of God’s kingdom after we pursue the advancement of our own kingdom. We are not to pursue it even at the same time. We are to pursue God’s kingdom first!
The advancement of God’s kingdom is to take first place in our lives. Of course we are to love our families, deepen our friendships, work hard at our jobs, save for the future, and serve in our communities. But we are never to make these – or any other worldly pursuits – the ultimate priority in life. When anyone or anything other than Jesus sits on the throne of our lives, we miss the One Thing that matters most. When we make anything other than God our first priority in life, we embark on a miniscule mission that will eventually lead us to a place of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and ultimately despair.
When Adam and Eve exchanged their pursuit of the kingdom of God for the pursuit of their own little kingdom, desiring what looked good and felt good, their miniscule mission plunged all of the created order into ruin. Our first parents literally denied their own humanity! They were created for the pursuit of God and His kingdom, not their own. We all know how that mission worked out for them: hiding in the brush, shivering with fear, blaming everyone but themselves for their catastrophic fall.
But thanks be to God for His indescribable love and grace! He refused to leave Adam and Eve within the constricted borders of their sin-filled lives. God pursued them and promised to send a Savior who would save them from their sins and the misery of pursuing a miniscule mission. And God has done the same for every child born of grace.
God’s grace has broken the chains of our self-imposed imprisonment that pursues the advancement of our own personal kingdoms. His grace has rescued us from living a miserable life of advancing our mediocre, miniscule mission; He has awakened us to live a life that truly matters.
Sure, His grace empowers us to love and serve at home, at work, and in our communities; but His grace empowers us to do so much more! In His most gracious act after salvation, God gave us a desire to live for Him rather than for ourselves. At this level of living, life becomes a journey of unimaginable joy, adventure, and excitement, because we are living for what – or more accurately, Who – we were designed to live for in the first place: God!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”