December 14, 2019

iMonk Classic: Thoughts on Seeking the Kingdom of God

Each Saturday, IM will post a classic article by Michael Spencer.

Originally posted June 18, 2009

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33 NLT)

1. You won’t get very far in following Jesus if you don’t have some idea of what “the Kingdom of God” means, because Jesus talks about it constantly, and commands you to seek it.

2. Most Christian spirituality has practically pursued this as meaning, “Go to the church and all you need to know of the Kingdom is there.” That’s a very inadequate answer, and you don’t have to be an exceptionally deep Christian to know that.

3. The church should be pointing at the Kingdom all the time, both inside and outside of its own boundaries.

4. The church should be actively helping you to seek the Kingdom of God. For starters, the church should know that it isn’t the Kingdom and should be able to keep you from making that mistake.

5. The church should be teaching what the Kingdom is; mentoring you so that you will increasingly recognize it and understand how you participate in the Kingdom of God in various ways.

6. Wherever possible, the church should be facilitating and encouraging the Kingdom of God, primarily by proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and inviting people to enter the Kingdom of God now, by faith in Jesus the Messiah.

7. The Kingdom is a present dimension of the world we live in, a world where God is actively present and at work, but it is also a coming reality, not here in fullness. Seeing the Kingdom in its present form and not insisting that it take its final form ahead of schedule is a critical balance for the follower of Jesus.

8. One of Jesus’ most important teachings about the Kingdom is its presence in the last, least, lost, little and obscure. This signals a huge change of perspective for the Christian living in post-evangelical times. We must be sensitive to the presence of the Kingdom in places that our movement treats as unimportant, even “God forsaken.”

9. We are commanded to actively seek the Kingdom, not just wonder where it might be and talk about possibilities. We are to look for it like a person looks for a lost valuable or a hidden treasure. Wherever Christians are, they are not commanded to wait until the Kingdom comes to them or they are suddenly transformed to the place of seeing the Kingdom. It is in seeking it, in the world as well as in the community of believers, that the Kingdom is discovered.

10. God’s provisions are promised in the context of seeking the Kingdom, not in seeking provisions or comfort. We can take care of ourselves, or we can seek the reign of a redeeming, rescuing, recreating God in the world, and he will take care of us along the way. Would you rather have much without his provision or what he blesses and gives you in the course of seeking the Kingdom?

11. Scripture is full of people seeking God’s Kingdom. Study them! Learn from what they learned. God taught them in the midst of the adventure.

12. Do not expect to take up this quest and return the same person. Seeking the Kingdom is a taking up and a casting off; a journey of trust and a facing of fear. But it how God describes life! Not accumulating or being culturally acceptable, but on the way to seeing the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

Comments

  1. Duane Young says

    Thanks for carrying on. It seems so right to do so. What a tragedy it would be not to. I am personally grateful to you, Mike, and Jeff. It is a balm for a wound that still smarts. The sting of this loss will take some time to lessen. Thanks. I pray you will “not weary in this well-doing.” Michael will bear much fruit yet. Jn. 12:24

  2. Duane must be thinking like I am. It shocks me that Michael Spencer is gone. Just like that, essentially. I don’t know when I’ll ever get used to the idea. Thank God we’ll all be together later.
    In the meantime, this has to go on because we so desperately need it now as we always have.

  3. And thank you so much, Mike, for stepping in. I can only imagine what is required, and I’m grateful you are willing to give it.

  4. “It is in seeking it, in the world as well as in the community of believers, that the Kingdom is discovered.”

    So what have others found the Kingdom to be?

  5. JeffB, I agree with Michael’s take on this. I particularly like this point:

    “The Kingdom is a present dimension of the world we live in, a world where God is actively present and at work, but it is also a coming reality, not here in fullness. Seeing the Kingdom in its present form and not insisting that it take its final form ahead of schedule is a critical balance for the follower of Jesus.”

    I used to read the discussions about whether the Kingdom was “within” us or “among” us and have decided that it is both.

  6. Duane Young says

    The Kingdom is, and always was and always will be, There is life is seeking it as well as finding it. In a real sense life is a gigantic Hide-and-Seek adventure–a Hidden God who delights in his children seeking him. On occasion just catching a glipse of his robe is an unspeakable thrill, and on those rare ocassions to touch it brings a healing rush. Often this blog has brushed back junk in the way of seeing–kind of a windshield wiper for the mind. You are right, Jeff; it is “community” that these moments seem to emerge. And iMonk has been a vibrant community for seeking.

  7. The Kingdom of God is the society in which God is the king and the populace are the citizens living in fealty to the King. Today that kingdom exists in an invisible dimension, separate from spatial and time dimensions that everyone recognizes. But the critical characteristics of the Kingdom today are that God is its king and the people of that kingdom are God’s subjects who follow/do/carry-out His will. Or so I understand.

    • A group of people that follow/do/carry out HIS will are not that invisible……though they represent MANY different denom’s and institutions. They can be seen and felt: GOD is as tangibly at work now as ever, though there is a sense that HIS Kingdom is “not of this realm” (not a theocracy until the parousia)

  8. Pastor Greg Boyd really helped me understand what the kingdom of God is – and what it isn’t.

  9. Oh, Michael..

    I miss you so much.

    Your Podcasts (and Tom Hanks) were wrong: there is crying in baseball.