BUT SEEK HIS KINGDOM
Luke 12:22-34 (K. V.: 12:31)
“‘But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’”
Today’s passage is one of the most essential topics in the entire Scripture. In continuation of the similar theme study of Luke, this is the culmination of what we have been learning: our internal struggles toward the outer world. Through Dr. Jason two weeks ago, we learned hypocrisy is something we should guard against but fearing God is something we should always aim to do. Through Shep. Rob last Sunday, we learned not to be foolish by storing things for ourselves but to be wise by being rich toward God. Can we combine all these goodies in one big package like a combo? Yes. This passage is exactly like that. It will be a pill to your anxiety attacks. It will be a star to wandering souls in the dark seas. It will make you nobler, holier and more meaningful in the midst of our mundane and mediocre life. May God bless each one of us to be the Kingdom-seeking generation.
Do Not Worry (12:22-28)
Look at verses 22-23. Jesus is exhorting his disciples not to worry about food and clothes, claiming that life and body are more important than food and clothes. Why food and clothes? It is because they are basic necessities at that time and even possibly now. Ever since Adam’s fall and his being kicked out of the Garden of Eden, we human beings began to worry about food, because God said by the sweat of our brow, we would eat our food until we would return to the ground. What about clothes? We didn’t need them in the beginning, but God first made garments of skin for Adam and Eve to cover their shame and sin-taint at the time of the Garden Exit. Perhaps, some of us have at least food on the table and roof over head. Then, the focus will now be shifted from worrying toward not to be too much engulfed with food. In our Friday meeting, someone pointed out that being a foodie is a new trend in certain countries, like Korea where all sorts of restaurants and food trucks are everywhere. I understand we need some comfort and rejuvenation after long-hours of hard-working through good food, but I hope we are not becoming like Noah’s time when the people were only eating, drinking, marrying and being given to marriage before the flood. Surely, Jesus is talking about life and that life is spiritual life. Our spiritual life is more important physical life but that does not mean we ignore our needs at physical life. Jesus clearly says in Mt 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word of God….” We just do not have to too much worry about it or be engulfed about it.
Look at verse 24. Here, Jesus gives us a reason why we do not have to worry about food in terms of the wildlife, such as the ravens. A raven is a very common bird (and an unclean bird), residing almost every corner of the world. It was the first living being sent out from Noah’s Ark after the flood and the first DoorDash food carrier with the online order from God to Elijah. Perhaps because of its venturing spirit and food-finding instinct that Jesus chose the ravens over any other wildlife animals as an example. Note the term, a storeroom, or a barn. Does this sound familiar? Remember how a rich fool destroyed his existing barns to build the bigger barns to enjoy his life? Yet, the ravens do not use barns to survive. They know God takes care of them. And Jesus says we are more valuable than birds.
Look at verse 25. This is still another reason why we do not have to worry. Worrying does not make any difference in our life. First, it does not elongate our lifespan. According to the footnote, the same term, a single hour, is replaced with a single cubit, which means it does not elongate our height, either. Note what our Lord says about the elongation of lifespan or height. He says that is a very little thing. How much more difficult for us to accomplish anything further than this with worrying?
Look at verse 27. This time, Jesus teaches us how God clothes us. “‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.’” Here, the wild flowers possibly are the lilies. Whether they are the wild flowers or the lilies, the point here is that they do not make any efforts in making clothes just like we do by spinning or weaving. And God still dresses them better than what King Solomon wore in his heydays. Solomon was like a celebrity at that time as the people all around his kingdom would love to visit him and see him in person because of his glory and splendor. Hence, he might have worn the gold-themed, star-studded royal robe. Yet it would be incomparable because the beauty that lilies possess is God-made while Solomon’s is man-made. The flowers would reveal God’s glory while what Solomon wore would reflect only human glory and splendor, which would last forever.
Loot at verse 28. Here Jesus points out the root cause of our worrying. “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” It is because we have little faith in God. When we put our faith in God who takes care of the little details of His creation such as the grass of the field, we can be free of our worries and anxieties. In our Friday meeting, some of our members shared how they overcame their worries when they put their faith in God through Genesis. For one, it was through Genesis Ch. 1 that he could trust in God the Creator who has the beginning and the ending of his life. So, since God is the owner of his life, he does not need to worry about anything but live a carefree life that renders glory to him. For another, it was through Genesis Ch. 22. This member was full of anxieties after arriving at the mission field because literally she had nothing for what she had to go through in the near future. However, when she firmly believed in Jehovah Jireh, the LORD WILL PROVIDE, all her worries were gone, and she could begin a new life.
Worries and anxieties are not only for the have-nots. The haves can be equally subject to worries. I watched a newsclip that in an affluent Seattle suburban area, many high school students took anti-anxiety medication due to their severe competition in their school. Surely, the best anti-anxiety pill is great faith. May God strengthen us to have such great faith to live a worry-free life!
Seek His Kingdom (29-34)
Look at verse 29. “‘And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.’” This verse seems like redundant in comparison to verse 22. Didn’t Jesus already say about that? However, when we refer to the original Greek version, which is, meteorismus or meteorism, we can have the better imagery and thus the better understanding. Imagine our heart being tossed or disturbed by meteors. In other words, we are not settled with one menu of food, but are constantly bombarded with dozens of menus, like a meteor shower in our heart. Our Lord points out that the pagan world runs after all such things. So, in the pagan world, having a variety of menus like a meteor shower is acceptable because they do not know the Father who already knows all their needs.
But what is our Lord’s direction for us, who are not to be like the pagan world? Verse 31 reads. “‘But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’” What a wonderful direction it is and what a graceful promise it is! This verse truly gives us a noble vision and a holy mission to experience his kingdom more and expand it further through our strength and wisdom. It helps us to find where to put our attention in our short period of lifespan. In addition, this direction comes with a promise that He will take care of peripheral things.
We as University Bible Fellowshipers love to in engaged in-depth Bible discussion. Such noble engagements probably came from the tradition that our UBF Founder, late Dr. Lee had in his serving and labor of love toward his fellow Bible teachers. So, every once in a while, as we had a big international summer Bible conference, late Dr. Lee often gathered all the Bible-savvies from all around the world in a quiet place and had a quality Bible discussion. At one point, he raised a question about what is the most difficult passage in the Bible. Someone came up with the Premillennialism in the Book of Revelation, another came up with the Predestination in the Book of Romans, and still others came up with Daniel’s vision along with many other difficult passages. After all the dust was settled, late Dr. Lee stood up and shared what he believed was the most difficult one in the Bible. Surprisingly, he quoted this verse, “seek His kingdom first.” His rationale was that while all other passages may deal with some theological aspect, which is not tangible and reachable as of now, “seeking His kingdom” incorporates our actual faith here and now with the God of past, the God of future, and the God of present. The God who did marvelous things and who would do wondrous works is actually living in us and He wants us to experience him in our daily living. I have many more examples who have experienced this verse. May God bless us to experience this verse as we live our life of faith.
Look at verse 32. Our Lord Jesus somehow loves the term “little,” as we can see him calling us little flock. And he encourages us by saying our Father is pleased to give us the kingdom. Look at verse 33. He provides us with the practical guideline regarding how to seek His kingdom. Selling one’s possessions and giving them to the poor is not easy. But Barnabas in the book of Acts did that, and he became one of the pillars in the Christian communities. Listen to what Apostle Paul has to say about this topic in 1Ti 6:18, 19, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Surely, storing our treasure in heaven is the wisest thing because there would no stealing, no cyber-hacking, and no moth-eating. Msn. Mary Bahn shared in our Friday meeting that some customers brought her moth-eaten clothes and it would be very expensive to repair them. They rather threw the clothes out. Where we store our treasure is where our heart is (34). Let us store it in the right place by doing good, which is the best retirement plan.
In conclusion, we learned that worrying does not help anything. We need the spiritual anti-anxiety pill, that is, great faith. Our Father knows what we need, and He is kind enough to feed and clothe wildlife. With Him in our mind, we need to seek His kingdom daily. That will make our life nobler, holier and more meaningful plus all-things taken care of.