Seek ye First The Kingdom of God And Its Righteousness (Matthew 6:33)
The option of seeking Heaven (the kingdom of God or Eternal life), is ‘The Fundamental Option’ . It is the Ultimate decision one MUST make in comparison with others. It is the highest of all decision in the hierarchy of decisions. Undoubtedly, it is the prime pursuit of human pursuits; the utmost priority of priorities.
From experience, most, if not all Christians, believe in the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. And in all sincerity, no one wants to end up in hell. Thus, even the worst of ‘sinners’ would never accept hell as their final end. But in truth, we know that it is only very few that will make it to heaven following the words of the Master Himself: “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it” (Mat. 7:13). Again he said, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mat. 22:14).
For me, the High Standards that must be kept, make for the narrowness of the ‘Gate that leads to life’ and difficulties of Journey. This therefore, calls for a high level of FOCUS, and doing away with all forms of UNWANTED DISTRACTIONS. These unwanted distractions are within and around us. They are Human, and seem to stem from human needs, wants, cravings, feelings, emotions and environments. Sometimes, they seemingly appear inevitable, as though they are ends in themselves. However, Jesus is telling us if we must make it to Heaven, we must give these DISTRACTIONS their due places in our lives and not mixed them up, with our Ultimate Goal in life – that is, making heaven. For this we were born!
In the light of the above, I will like to identify some salient Human Existential Phenomenon that pose as DISTRACTIONS and could stand as OBSTACLES to us attaining Eternal Life. The first distraction I will like to identify here is FAMILY. I know many will be surprise to hear that family could be an obstacle to attaining Heaven. Yes, family could and has always been, if we put them first before God.
Nothing comes first before God if one must make it to Him and his Kingdom. God said of Himself, I’m a JEALOUS God, and as such, he will and would not want anyone to take ‘His PLACE’ in our lives. He would not want to anyone to steal ‘His Time’ with us. Thus Jesus would say, “Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. He who cares only for his own life will lose it; he loses his for my sake will find it” (Mat. 10:37-39).
Again in Luke chapter 14: 26-27, the evangelist used a rather harsh tune to buttressed the above point when he said, “if you come to me, without hating your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself as well, you cannot be myself disciple”. Now, it must be noted here, that Jesus did not just say these words to us, but we could identify these in his life and ministry. He was a man who practiced what he preached.
Let us seen some events of his life that gave proves to the above assertions. At the age of twelve, we were told that Jesus got missing and his parents eventually found him in the Temple, after a three day search, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. When Mary his mother asked him, ” Son why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried while searching for you.” Jesus replied saying, “why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? (cf. Luke 2:48-49).
Again in Matthew 12:46-50 we were told that, While Jesus was going about his ministry, his mother and his brothers came to speak to him and someone said to him, ” Your mother and your brothers are here to to speak to you”. But Jesus answered, who is my mother, “who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Then he pointed to his disciples and said, Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, my sister and my mother.” (also compare Luke 11:27-28)
Now did Jesus disregard or dishonour his parents and family members from the above texts? No! He didn’t. His emphasis and priority was to fulfill the Father’s Will on earth, and nothing must come between Him and that Mission. Not even family. Thus, he would say, “My food is to do the Will of my Father” (John 4:34). is on the work of God.
The above attitude is what Jesus wants from us his followers. He lead by example showing us the way we should live out our Christian lives. Thus, in our caption text he categorically said, the pursuit of the Kingdom must come First. He meant what he said, and said what he meant.
I know a lot us maybe confused at this point. Does this mean we should forsake our families? Not to love and care for them? Does it mean for us to get to heaven or be his disciples we must hate our love ones? Far from it. Instead, He recommend we love them, care for them. Cherish them as we would ourselves. However, our love for them should not take our love for Him. He must be loved first and foremost. Our love for our families and dear ones should flow from our love of HIM and not the other way round. God MUST be first in our lives. He cannot take a second place in our scale of priorities. He cannot be treated as secondary or tertiary in our daily pursuits. He is The Ultimate and the Primary Pursuit and must be treated as such.
Little wonder Moses would say to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Listen, O Israel: The Lord, our God, is the One Lord. And so you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. Engrave on your heart the words that I command you today. Repeat them over and over to your children, speak of them when you are at home and when you travel, when you lie down and when you rise. Tie them around your arm as a sign, and let them be as a band on your forehead. Engrave them on your doorposts and on your city gates”.
I speak from experience to say, a lot of us would have been better Christians if not for our families or love ones or the relationships we keep. You know I’m speaking to you directly now. Some to please their spouse, the have watered down their prayer lives and quest for holy living. Some to make sure there meet up the demands at home have soiled their hands and consciences. Let me remind you at this point, you can NEVER love any member of your family more than God loves them. Why not commend that person or persons or family situation to God, instead of trying to find a solution ‘all in the name of love’ at the detriment of your soul!
Remember, on that Day, we all will stand individually, not as a family before God. So your excuse today, for not praying, studying the Word of God or Living Righteously will not be worth it. Think deep about this.
TO BE CONTINUED….