Last week we examined this verse from Matthew 6:33 ,“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We concluded that the things added to us would be the characteristics described as a “Blessing” found in the first part of the “Sermon on the Mount.” Furthermore, we also concluded that the “Blessing” is Jesus Christ Himself. In other words, if we use Matthew 5:8 as an example, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” We understand these words of Jesus to mean; receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior empowers us to remain undefiled by the world which in turn, enables us to see God’s presence in everything we see or do. The sequence of events here is very important. The “Blessing” precedes any of the characteristics described as such. We can’t be mournful, gentle, poor in spirit, or any of the others without a supernatural Incarnate God working from the inside out.
This brings us to the “How to seek first” question. Jesus was emphatic that our act of worship is to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”. The multitudes listening to this message may, or may not have, understood that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind, the unblemished Lamb of God, and so forth. We, on the other hand, do realize that Jesus was all of these things and He was referring to Himself as the object of their (our) seeking. This is a personal call to us, to seek Jesus Christ first, before pursuing the mundane things of the world. This verse is preceded and proceeded with verses imploring us not to worry about food, about drink, about our body, clothing and even says in verse 34, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The overriding theme to this passage from the “Mount” is quite simple: seek Me first, trust in Me first, place your faith in Me first, and you shall receive Me, the “Blessing”…and then, and only then…will you be ready to face the mundane of the world.
So…how do we do that again?
Well…we go to church.
Later on in Jesus’ ministry, after they shared the Last Supper, He said these words to His disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” John 16:12-15
Jesus refers here to the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the conduit by which all truth will be communicated. When the Holy Spirit talks, it is the words of Jesus that are voiced. When the Holy Spirit leads, it is by Jesus Christ’s direction. The Holy Spirit will take the Truth, the Hope, the Blessing that Jesus is…and communicate that to us in a method we can bear, or understand. When we seek first His kingdom, the Holy Spirit is the guide. When we seek first His righteousness, the Holy Spirit prepares us to enter into His presence, and “prepared” we need to be. To enter the wilderness of His presence is to step off of the manicured lawns and pruned bushes and enter into the wild places of faith. To take the trail few have walked is to willingly enter the domain of the Righteous One, and we need to be prepared to make that journey.
This is the role of the Church, which is, the body of Christ. To make ready, by the guiding of the Holy Spirit, the faithful…to journey out into the unknown wilderness of His Holy Presence. Herein lies the problem, the Church, by and large, has become an institution. It has “cut-pruned-and trimmed” elements of the wild places and caused them to become mundane places of the world. The well kept lawns and trimmed trees hem in buildings of splendor, placed on maintained thoroughfares which used to be game trails into the wilderness of His Holy Presence. Often times, like the animals killed trying to cross highways which follow their ancient pathways, the Church kills any “seeking after righteousness” amongst it’s members due to the prevalence of mundane things. The church was intended to be the “gateway” to His presence, not the “destination” to His presence. Unfortunately, for many of us, our journey has stopped when the “man tracks” stopped.
The Church should be an inviting place. It should welcome with open arms the lost, the destitute, the poor, the hungry, the orphan and the widow. All should be welcome and scooped up into the loving embrace of the “Blessed.” However, the Church should also be preparing the faithful to journey into the wilderness. The Church needs to be a place where I can leave my sandwich wrapper. A place where my trash can be added to all of the other trash and discarded. If the road ends at the front door of the Church, the back door should lead to a path that takes us deep into the wilderness of His Holy Presence. Back there, in the sacred places, guided by the Holy Spirit, we can enter into His Presence. This individual calling into His Holy Presence is for the corporate purpose of His Church. When we return, we share our experiences, we testify to our revelation, we praise God with thanksgiving and song as we (the Church) rejoice, and ready the next group to journey.
Again…the sequence of this relationship is important. Christ within, working on us from the inside out makes us the Church. The Church is a living breathing organism of Christ followers dedicated to His call and service. In other words, the Church is “Blessed” and its characteristics are gentle, mournful, peacemakers, poor in spirit, etc. There is a sense of duality here. Although we are individually the Church, we are also corporately the Church, His body, with Christ being the head of the body. Any “institutionalism” of God’s Church is “man tracks” to conformity with the culture we find ourselves in. As an “institution”, the church has changed an adapted its message of Christ, to the culture, over the last 2000 years.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Good question…next week.