yesterday’s text, matthew 6:30-34, is one of the most preached about passages in the bible. i imagine i have heard over a hundred sermons preached from it in my lifetime. so teaching through these words was not unfamiliar territory for me.
but the older i get, the more difficult it is to wrestle with this part of the sermon on the mount:
seek first the kingdom of god…
forty years ago, the king james version of matthew 6:33-34 was set to music in one of the very first choruses that defined the jesus movement…that defined changes in the church culture that would define my life forever.
“seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you, hallelujah.” i can still sing it as if it were yesterday. and it is a command that i am still trying to learn to live with everyday.
it’s amazing how we can put a syrupy-sweet melody to volatile words and end up with a benign response. truth is, these are some of the harshest and most unrealistically difficult words that jesus ever said. “as a matter of first priority, put the good of my kingdom before everything else in your life. put the advancement of my kingdom before the comfort and development of your family, before your personal well-being, before your financial security, before your pursuit of personal contentment, and before what you want and need.”
wow. sign me up. yuck.
it’s no wonder we leave that little tidbit of information out of our invitations for people to follow jesus. better just stick with the good stuff like “god will answer your prayers” and “you get to go to heaven when you die.”
the real trouble is that i’m not so sure we ever even get to the bait and switch part!
when’s the last time you had somebody crawl up in your space and make you come face-to-face with the hard words of jesus, right along side all the bennies?
right. yesterday. so don’t run away. preaching these words doesn’t mean i like to hear them any more than you do. nor does it mean that i struggle any less with putting them into practice. we’re in this together.
and we will not run away from them.