At the time of writing this, the election still has not been decided. By now I was hoping to be coming to grips with the next four years. I was expecting some of the worry to be gone simply because it was done. But here we are dealing with a never ending nail-biter. People are overwhelmed with anxiety right now.
Maybe you are one of them. Maybe you were extremely caught up in this election. It was really easy to do. The stakes seemed higher than normal. The election was surrounded by a virus, lockdowns, rioting, and a desire to destroy this country as it was founded. There were all sorts of reasons to stay glued to the television. But were any of them good reasons? Is your life better today because of that worry?
Or maybe you are scared to death of this virus. There are so many reasons to be scared of the virus. All we ever hear about is the number of cases and deaths. Maybe you are so worried about it that you are carrying a tape measure to make sure everyone stays 6 feet away from you. Maybe you have washed the skin off your hands. Maybe you haven’t left your house in months. I ask you, is your life better today because you worry about the virus?
Maybe you are going through hard financial times due to the pandemic. Maybe you are crippled by fear and anxiety and you are part of the group that is crying out to the government to send a check to help you. Maybe you are worried about the future and if you are going to eat and have a roof over your head. Has that worry helped you at all?
These are just a few worldly cares that can easily be substituted into the Lord’s sermon on anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34. In verse 27 Jesus said, “How many of you by worrying can add a cubit to his stature?”. What did your worry do for the election results? Have the people who have been overwhelmed by anxiety toward the virus been immune? Has worry ever fed someone? Has worry ever paid the rent?
The Lord’s solution to worry and anxiety is found in verse 33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. I want to make two points from these words of Jesus. First, I want to explain what the promise is, and second, I want to explain who the promise is for.
What the Promise is
Jesus wants us to know that we don’t have to go through life with crippling anxiety. He is not promising a life of ease and free of disappointment. Even our Lord faced problems. In speaking of Jesus, Isaiah 53:3 says that he was “a man of sorrows and aquainted with grief”. We get a picture of that grief as he prayed to God in “deep distress” and was sweating blood (Matt 26:37, Luke 22:44).
There are few things as awful as some snake oil salesman parading as a gospel preacher promising people money, prosperity, and an end to all their worries if they “seek first the kingdom”. Which really means “give me money”. They are stealing from the poor with a promise that Jesus never made.
The promise that Jesus is making is that if we seek first the kingdom, we will have the ability to navigate through these worldly problems. If we are hungry, we don’t need to let it drag us into deep worry because God loves us.
Jesus helps us understand the promise better in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” The promise is centered around our understanding of eternity. The problems we face are temporary. If I die from Covid-19, I lose maybe 60 more years on this planet. But if I am not faithful to God and die from Covid-19 I lose eternity.
The person who seeks first the kingdom gets to put these problems in their proper place. They get to look at things from an eternal perspective. That gives them peace that surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7). It allows them to grieve in a way that the world can't (1 Thes 4:13). They have an eternal trump card that says "death takes me to the reward!" (Phil 1:23).
Who the Promise is For
The promise is for those who seek first the kingdom of God. There are many people today who are looking for the kingdom of God to appear. You see them every week on the 700 Club. They think that Jesus is going to come back and set up a physical kingdom in Jerusalem and reign on David’s throne. That’s incorrect. They are taking something that is spiritual and making it physical.
Jesus said “My kingdom is NOT of this world” (John 18:32). In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is not coming in any observable ways because it is "within" us. Meaning, don’t be looking for a physical kingdom.
In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus designates his church as the Kingdom of God on earth. That Church, the Kingdom of God, was established on the earth in Acts 2 as all those who believed and were baptized were added to it (2:47). This is how Paul could use the past tense in Colossians 1:13 , “He has delivered us out of the domain of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son”.
The Kingdom is on earth today. The church of Christ is the Kingdom on earth.
Are you a member of it? Don’t answer that question by your feelings of inner peace. Buddhists have inner peace. Hindus have inner peace. Paul had inner peace as he was killing Christians. Answer the question by proving that you have found the church of Christ. Does your church look like the one in the bible? Open up the message of the King, the Bible, seek out his kingdom in there and compare it to the church you belong to.
There is no promise in a man-made church. The promise of eternal hope and salvation is only for those in the church of Christ (Eph 5:23).
What a wonderful promise it is. Especially in times like these!