Seeking First the Kingdom of God
It is the Kingdom of God that we find to be the great theme of the Saviour, as He commenced His illustrious mission of world redemption: It is the Kingdom of God from first to last that He had His eyes, His heart and mind upon, and that because Jehovah had presented to Him the glorious vision of the programme of the Ages, wherein He saw the great consummation in the establishment of the reign of righteousness upon the earth of which He was to be the Head. He saw also the selection of joint heirs or associates with Him, and to them He gave the exhortation to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."
Surely the Master could never have given any better advice than this. No one up to that time gave advice so perfect as that, because none could. No one could come before that sacrifice and the call will never be offered again. With the conclusion of this age the entire Christ will be called out, the door will be shut, never to be opened again. Seeking a place in the Kingdom of God involves a very heavy expense; it is altogether too hard for the majority who even profess to be interested in the subject. This is in fulfilment of the Master’s words, "Narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." We have had to have these points impressed on our minds over and over again, through our experiences, as far as we have realised the narrowness of the way. Our Lord most certainly gave us to understand that it was a very solemn and serious application that one was assuming any undertaking to walk in His footsteps and seek first the Kingdom of God. Therefore, He declared that not all who say "Lord! Lord! shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father in Heaven," implying that many would say "Lord! Lord!" and yet are not willing to pay the price, not willing to bear the cross, not willing to go all the way that was stipulated in His various injunctions. When Christ said to His followers, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God," He did not mean anyone to reply, "Yes, Lord, I will go with you in the Kingdom, just let me know when you get that Kingdom established, and I will be there!" None but His actual followers will ever get there, those trained by the great teacher, and who learn of Him and accept His instructions. We get a hint from the Apostle’s statement, "Brethren, take heed how you build and what kind of material you use in your building because there are two kinds, one is good and the other not so good; there is gold, silver and precious stones, and there is wood, hay and stubble, and if you use the gold, silver and precious stones you will use material indestructible, which will not be harmed by fire, but if you use "wood" you may have a building that will look very nice and attractive from the outside, but it will not be able to resist the "fire" and time shall declare the nature of substance you have used." Gold, silver and precious stones stand for doctrinal truth based upon a pure understanding of God, the practical spiritual life going hand in hand.
Frankly, there is no real value in spending one’s life in building up an intellectual conception, and overlooking the fact that knowledge that comes to the head is intended to reach the heart. We have had a demonstration of how these things work out in the various crises that have come upon the Church. Many have not dealt with these in a way that has been to their credit or their honour. Conversations have run somewhat after these lines:‑
"Brother, what are you going to do, here is a matter to settle, what are you going to do?"
"Well, I don’t know, it is a serious question, I will have to think it over, and besides, I want to see what the rest will do. No doubt we’ll have a meeting though, I don’t know what I’ll do about it."
What is the matter with the man? He has been building on wood, hay and stubble!
So we ask someone else what he is going to do about the same problems in the Church.
"Have you thought about them, brother?" .
"Yes, I have thought about them, and I am going to take my stand on the side of the Divine principles that are involved," and then he receives the answer:‑
"Well, if you take that stand, you know you won’t have very many with you."
"Well," he replies, "I know, but that is not my consideration, for it does not make any difference. I have my eyes fixed upon Christ, and I am considering Him first in this matter and what He wants me to do, and, therefore, that is where I stand on this question now."
What is the difference between the two men. One has taken his stand, and made his building of wood, hay and stubble, the other out of gold, silver and precious stones.
May God in His infinite mercy and suffering and patience continue to lead us on amidst the present confusion and cause our hearts to feel the deeper yearning for Him and the consciousness of His Presence that we may more fully deport ourselves as true and worthy exponents of the life of Him who is the great example, and see that we walk as He walked.