The Kingdom Within Us

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

The command seems easy enough, right? I think all of us who think along these lines would agree that we should seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. I am learning, however, that it is not so easy. For years I’ve been giving a nod, if you will, to the first part of this verse in order to get to the second part–the goods–but if we take a closer look we will see that the beginning of the verse takes more than just a nod.

We know, for instance, that once we belong to Him, His kingdom then resides in us (Luke 17:20-21). I think, then, that seeking His kingdom and His righteousness means among other things to become the person He intended us to be—for us to reflect His kingdom. This means then that we cannot remain covered over with sin and shame. The shame that comes, say, with living in addiction be it the obvious like drugs or alcohol or food or porn or the less obvious like people-pleasing or anger or greed. We must then be free from this; we must become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). How do we do this? I wish there was an easy answer—a magic wand, perhaps, that we could wave and our addictions would be a distant memory. I am learning, though, that it takes work…a lot of work.

One of the most important requirements to becoming that new creation is a daily dying to self, so that when the Self calls and says, “Hey, I’m hurting today and need you to soothe the pain—temporarily—by taking a drug, having a drink, eating a package of cookies, visiting an Internet site, seeking approval from a friend, boss, or a stranger, picking a fight with someone, adding another task and paycheck to your already heavy workload, so I can feel better” then I can say “not today, Self. Today I’m going to ignore your yearnings and, instead, stop, count to ten if need be, and put my trust in God. Today I choose to look to Him for hope and for a better tomorrow.” Only then can we/I arrive at the second part of the verse which states, “and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I don’t think God is saying here, “Nanna nanna boo boo, you can’t have this until you trust Me,” although, admittedly, it has felt like this at times. I think, instead, that He is saying, “I love you, I know you, I created you and knew you even before you were born (Psalm 139), so let me show you what I can do for you. I will do for you something that is beyond your own efforts and beyond your wildest dreams” (Jeremiah 33:3). So, all those dreams that I dared to dream while cleaning a park restroom or sitting alone in an office hour after hour working on some mundane task will finally make their way out of my hazy dream world and become a reality. I don’t think it will happen for me, though, until there is a constant flow from myself to my Creator. As long as that “artery” is clogged with the above then I will remain in this place of drifting, marking time, settling.

Anyone who said that the Christian walk is easy did not give it their best effort. The idea is simple enough: give your life to Christ, but the daily implementation of it is much more difficult. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, undertaking. I like a good challenge, though, and this has been the best challenge so far. For even as I struggle, I feel God’s presence and His gentle, capable hand leading me on.

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