The Goal of the Christian
In a Nutshell
In Matthew 6.33, Jesus says it so simply and yet so profoundly:
'Seek first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.'
The goal of the Christian is in that brief sentence quoted by Matthew.
That was the theme of the Karen refugee Mothers' Union Camp this year, and again I was honoured to be asked to speak to them. There wasn't much time to get it written and the workshop sheets completed for translation so I could have them in time, but we made it!
So here it is!
The Background to the Text
This morning I listened to the weather forecast, then looked at the clothes in my wardrobe. I thought,
"Oh, dear! What will I choose to wear? Will it be too hot for my new blue jacket? Would my purple outfit look good enough?"
That's what we women often do, isn't it?
It reminds me of Martha and Mary. Martha was always worrying about things:
"Would the food be good enough for Jesus and His friends? What should I give them to drink? Why doesn't Mary come and help? She could at least set the table."
Stress and Anxiety
Jesus understood how people can be stressed and anxious. He knew how they worried about what to wear, what to cook, or would things be good enough for the guests?
Does it help if we allow ourselves to worry? Is it good to get stressed about something like our reputation in the community? Perhaps we want other people to think that we're the best cook, that we make the best food in the church. Is it wise to worry about our reputation, what other people think, or is it more important to be concerned with preparing food that is healthy, nutritious for our friends.
Attitudes like this can lead to problems that Jesus wants us to avoid.
He says, "Don't worry! Don't be anxious!"
Often there are things we think we need and things we think we must have. We can't have everything, and it wouldn't be good for us if we could, we'd probably get in a terrible muddle.
On this path of life we need to decide on our priorities, the things most important to us.
Here is a list of what we might need or want. I would like you to decide which six things are your priorities and number them.
(When this was done, we discussed which things the ladies found most important. They realised that some things were what they would like to have, but they were not essential. There is a difference between needing and wanting. We can't have everything and we need to prioritise.)
Seeking God's Kingdom
The first part of the theme this weekend is 'Seek first the kingdom of God.' It's the most important thing we can do - to seek, to look for, to strive to find the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us to work hard to know more about God's kingdom and to become part of it.
Mary chose to learn about God's kingdom. Jesus said she had chosen the best thing (Luke 10.42). it's best for us, too, but He did not mean that we should just sit around and let everyone else work while we wait for Jesus to come back.
The Kingdom of God
So what is the kingdom of God?
It includes everyone who loves God. Jesus told us God gives us choice. How can we choose to be part of the kingdom of God? We can only become a member of God's kingdom if we are born again. In John 3.3 Jesus said that if we are not born again, we cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Can we see this Kingdom? Not now, there is no 'outward show'(Luke 17.20). It's not something we can see like our food and shelter. It is inside our hearts and it is spiritual. It is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14.17).
Seek His Righteousness
What does being righteous mean? It means being right morally, being justified before God. Jesus tells us we should seek God's righteousness, to become right, as God is right.
But God is perfect, and we are not. We all do wrong things. This is called sin and it separates us from God who is so holy.
The only way we can be right and justified before God is through putting our faith in Jesus and accepting His sacrifice on the cross so God can forgive us for our sins (Romans 5. 1-9).
So our first priority should be to learn more about God and to have faith in Jesus.
Having Faith in Jesus
Do I really have faith in Jesus? What kind of a Christian am I?
Perhaps we can answer this by thinking about our pets. Have you ever noticed the differences between a cat and a dog?
A cat demands to be waited on and it always wants to be the centre of attention.
It tries to make it's owner do what it wants: give it food, give it a warm lap to sit on.
If someone else offers it food, it will go to them instead.
It does not think about others, only about what it can get for itself.
A dog is faithful, it always tries to please its owner.
It tries to protect its master if danger comes.
Even if a dog's master goes away and it seems as if he is not coming back, when he returns the dog forgives and remains faithful.
Are we like a Dog or a Cat?
What kind of a Christian am I? We need to think about that.
Are we like the dog and remain faithful to God even when trouble comes?
Or are we like the cat and only think of ourselves and our own comfort? Do we always want to be the centre of attention? Do we try to make other people do what we want them to do? When we pray do we ask God to do what we want?
We need to look deep into our hearts and decide on our most important priorities.
"All These Things Will be Given to You."
We all think about what we would like to have, what we want to do, where we would like to be. Is it just wishing for things that won't happen? Should we think that way?
Sometimes people go to church because they think that if they believe in God then He will keep bad things from happening, that God will make them rich.
God will not give us everything we want, but He has promised to give us everything we need if we become His children and we ask Him. It may not come at once, but His timing is perfect.
We have talked about personal choices and priorities, our goals and the path we take as a Christian. May God bless you as you make the right choices and find the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
© 2014 Bronwen Scott-Branagan