Kingdom Priorities and Hard Realities

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”  – 1 Samuel. 16:1

In our Wednesday morning Bible Study (The 52 Necessary Bible Stories) we are up to David, just anointed King, but far from being the reigning King.  A major theme emerging is one I wish to pick up here for a different purpose.  In living the Christian life there are two types of problems encountered.  There are the problems that I categorize as Kingdom Priorities.  In that Bible study this type of problem was displayed in the verse quoted above.  God has decided or ordained certain things and it is the disciple’s role to get with the program.  This type of problem is often addressed by the most pungent sayings of Jesus, like “let the dead bury their dead, but you go proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:60, also Matthew 8:22).”  Or like the gospel lesson last week, “do not think I have come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34).” The Christian Life always has its challenges over our priorities.  And what Yahweh in the Old Testament or Jesus (same God) in the New Testament always says is get your priorities straight.  The Kingdom of Heaven is of first priority.  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).”

Your mileage might vary.  I certainly know people who have agonized over decisions and over the will of God.  But my experience in general is that we know more about the will of God than we often let on.  Like the old hymn, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” We often continue with forfeit peace and needless pain because we have that answer and we do not like it. The Rich Young Man in Mark 10/Matthew 19 goes away troubled because he did not like Jesus’ answer.  Which answer was simply seek first the Kingdom.  There are things that must be done for the Kingdom.  And the choice is faithfulness, or not.

The second problem that comes up in the Christian life is what I’ll call “hard realities”.  David may have been anointed King, but Saul still lived.  Now we usually take these types of problems as much bigger problems. We see lack of resources or skills or knowledge or any of the list of things that constitute our excuses.  We even have a favorite bible verse from Jesus we might quote, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28ff).” But Jesus’ point with that story doesn’t end with a summary like, “don’t be stupid, count first, and if you don’t have enough don’t start.” That would be our human wisdom.  And don’t take this as downplaying that wisdom completely.  But Jesus’ summary of that is “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”  Things that are hard realities to us are laughably easy to God.  And if we have our Kingdom priorities correct, God provides.  Maybe not how we’d envision, but God provides.  I’m sure David would have preferred an Army after being anointed, instead God arranged for him to play the lyre for Saul. When we depend upon ourselves, we always see lack.  When we depend upon God, we have a surprising abundance.  If we have our Kingdom priorities straight.

We have a congregational meeting scheduled for next week.  In one sense, there is no emergency.  Things are good. This should not be an anxiety producing note. (Sure Pastor, but just saying that raises my anxiety. Yeah, I hear you. But I’m being honest.) But the leadership of Mt. Zion is going to be putting forward something that prayerfully starts to align us with Kingdom priorities and seeks some help with those “hard realities.” We are seeking the Kingdom, and depending upon God and his people.

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