My dog chases squirrels. Other dogs chase cars. When I watch a dog chase a car, I wonder, what will he do with that car if he catches it? Can you imagine Rover bouncing down the street with the fender from a 2010 Buick in its teeth? Perhaps the chase, the seeking, is enough.
Recently, I suggested that the Christian life has two parts: Becoming a Christian (John 3:16) and Being a Christian (Matthew 6:33). Since getting people in the front door is exceptionally important, a huge amount of attention in evangelical circles has been dedicated to that “Becoming” portion. However, for most of us, the “Being” fills a great deal longer period and proves immensely more difficult than the “Becoming.” Therefore, the “Being” portion deserves our attention as well. Let’s take a look at Matthew 6:33, word by word, to see what we can learn about this primary motion that is supposed to animate our lives and make our “Being” more successful.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
When we consider that first verb, “seek,” we find that there’s nothing inherently good in seeking. Even within the pages of Matthew’s gospel, we read that Herod would seek to kill Jesus (2:13) and an evil spirit would seek a place to rest (12:43). Seeking is something that we all do. What is important is the object of our seeking. We’ll take that up next time.
But before moving on from “seek,” I’d like to consider the words that are not placed here. Notice that the verse doesn’t read: “Achieve first the kingdom…” We don’t have to actually find the kingdom or achieve the kingdom. We have to seek it. Yes, in the very next chapter, still in the Sermon on the Mount, we read
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.–Matthew 7:8
So if we seek, we’ll also find, but the promise in 6:33 is that all the needful things will follow from the seeking and not from the finding.
A few years ago, there was “No Fear,” a line of t-shirts that screen-printed bad sportsmanship onto cheap cotton. These shirts said things like “Second place is the first loser.” Great attitude. “No Fear” certainly did not refer to having confidence in God. Instead, it encouraged a (misplaced) confidence in one’s self.
The “No Fear” crowd–and have no doubt, they still abound today–seeks. They seek themselves, success, wealth, or meaning. They seek and sometimes they find.
In the end, then, we see that it is enough to seek (as opposed to achieving or finding) but it is essential that what we seek is the right thing.
My dog seems to take great joy in chasing those squirrels. He’s never caught one, and I question whether he really knows why chasing that little rodent is worthwhile. Perhaps for him, the pursuit is enough.