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Random Thoughts Pieced Together?

While preparing for the Men's Bible Study at St John's, I had an illumination that I want to share with you.  In reading the Gospel lesson, I read this verse:
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.  Luke 12.31.

What does Jesus mean by the 'Kingdom (or rule) of God'?  The context seems to tell what it's not.  It is not food or drink or clothing or shelter or other material 'comforts' in this life.  Jesus said that those things 'dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world' but we shouldn't be concerned about them.  Instead, we are to 'seek the Kingdom of God'.  Why do you suppose it is that we can't find a chapter and verse telling us exactly what that phrase means?  What we find, like in this passage, is what the Kingdom of God is not.  Perhaps that is part of the point.  Perhaps we have to continually seek God to determine what that means in our lives.  And when we see things that the Kingdom of God is not, we know better how to ask.  And this led me to the next random thought.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James 4.1-3.



Back in my Charismatic days, this was one of the passages we used to refer to the 'name it and claim it' lifestyle.  That is, if you want a new car, you should ask and you should be specific about what you want. But, I don't think that is what is going on here.  I don't think James is telling to seek material things at all.  I think James is telling us to seek the Kingdom of God.  When we pray, are we praying for God to show us how to implement the Kingdom in our world?  Or are we asking God to give us material things?  I think James is trying to correct a materialism that was creeping in the community.  Those other people have 'things' because they are seeking the Kingdom of God!  And if we are looking at the way God is providing for them, and are getting jealous or greedy, then our motives are all wrong.  We are not seeking the Kingdom of God.  We are seeking 'what will give [us] pleasure'.

So the question comes down to this?  It is the same question Jesus asked the disciples.  He is asking us the same question today: Why do we have so little faith?  Why is our trust in God so small?  As Jesus says in the context of the question, God takes care of all of creation, it never plants nor reaps nor shops for clothes or sews fabrics and yet all the needs of creation is met by God.  I suppose my answer is that of the disciples on many different occasions:

Lord, increase my faith.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

Comments

Ted Gossard said…
OD, Good thoughts. I think our faith suffers because it's misplaced quite often, as you say here. But I also think God wants to take our prayers and desires and sanctify them.

A good question might be, is such a prayer worthy of the kingdom of God as revealed in Jesus? If it's a prayer to become financially independent so that we can then serve God and people, then that would seem to get it backwards according to this.
Odysseus said…
You know Ted, I really appreciate that you take the time to drop by, read, and respond to my posts.

Concerning our prayers: I completely agree that 'God wants to take our prayers and desires and sanctify them.' I think that is James' whole point, actually. It is based on our intention; our 'motives'. It seems that James is asking someone to seek the Kingdom and then, if it's God's will, he would make him/her 'financially independent'. That is, seek God on how we can implement the Kingdom of God now, and do it (the part that most people 'forget'), and if it's God's will, God grants us 'financial independence'. Does that make sense? Is that what you're saying?

Peace be with you my Brother.

+ OD

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