Yesterday I began working on what I thought would be an easy piece on Luke 12. I intended to point out that verses 29-31 should not be taken as an isolated admonition to avoid worry by focusing on God—a mistake I’ve made when considering this passage as a standalone quote.
“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:29-31
While this is an incredible challenge all on its own, I think we end up making impoverished application when we fail to take into account the progression in chapter 12.
Just prior to the passage in question, Jesus discusses the folly of a life wasted in pursuit of the temporary wealth and comforts of this life. And immediately following our passage, Jesus teaches, via parable, that God’s people are expected to be found faithfully occupied with HIS business when he returns.
The meaning is clear. We need not worry about the necessities of life because God will take care of us, but we also should not be concerning ourselves with prosperity or prestige because these are completely inappropriate priorities for a servant of God. Accepting the invitation to be included in the Kingdom is only the beginning of seeking it. Pursuing the Kingdom of God means that its promotion is our number one objective—the motive that informs and trumps all others.
This applies to our choice of career, spouse, lifestyle. It concerns how we invest our time, our money, and ourselves. It means continually asking the question, “Is this the best way to love and serve God and further his Kingdom?—and then adjusting life accordingly.
That’s the observation I intended to share. And I pretty much had it down. But I needed a story I could tell on myself or a clever illustration—something to make it interesting to read or easy to relate to. As I struggled to come up with the right something, a thought landed solidly in my mind.
You neglect prayer.
I quickly followed that thought up with another.
Um…hmmm…shockingly blunt and self-condemning transparency wasn’t exactly the feel I was going for in this piece. Maybe something a little more humorous and witty?
But it came again.
You neglect prayer.
Now I do pray, but I knew what the Holy Spirit was telling me. If I want to share a personal failing in Kingdom living, then prayer is the something I’m looking for.
I have conversational prayer with God throughout the day. I ask for wisdom and direction. I pray for needs as I hear them or as I remember them. (Though I think sometimes these prayers are as much about following through on a promise to pray as they are about the needs themselves.) And I pray for my boys each night when I tuck them in.
But I’m pretty weak as far as investing in the kingdom through the fervent work of prayer. I don’t regularly set aside time to really engage, struggle, or grieve for the lost and the hurting or for the body of Christ through prayer. This kind of investment is often not pleasant or immediately rewarding. It requires an uncomfortable recognition of and identification with pain, suffering, and sin.
It’s easier to keep myself too busy, or to distract myself with FaceBook or some good reading material. It’s easier to think about pleasant things. It’s easier to not make God’s kingdom the priority.
Nothing funny or witty there, I’m afraid. But perhaps it will encourage some others to examine their lives in light of Luke 12—it’s amazing what can happen when even a few hearts are stirred to make the pursuit of God’s Kingdom a greater priority.