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Putting God’s Kingdom First

By Gregg Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #3, 1993.

Gregg urges Christians to dedicate everything to building God's kingdom
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Gregg Harris

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9-13)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)

Which of the following would be the more acceptable testimony in the church today?

#1 “Before I met the Lord, I was a lazy, irresponsible, smoking, foul-mouthed drunkard. But now I am saved and I don’t do those things anymore.”

#2 “Before I met the Lord, I neglected my family and abandoned my children to be raised by unbelievers, used the church only as a source of entertainment, ignored my neighbors, lived in constant debt spending borrowed money on unnecessary possessions, and sacrificed my freedom for a job doing work I didn’t believe in. But now that I am saved and I don’t do those things anymore.”

Imagine the discomfort the latter of these two announcements would create in a typical church congregation. We have a consensus that the sins listed in the first testimony are wrong. But no such consensus exists for the culturally acceptable sins listed in the second testimony. What is it that allows Christians to be apathetic toward some of the “weightier matters” of the Christian life? Why is there so little conviction of the Holy Spirit in some of the most practical areas of our lives? I believe it is because we lack a proper sense of the kingdom of God.

Thy Kingdom Come

Everything God’s Word has to say is summed up in the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand. The rock on which the church is built, is the revelation from the Father that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God. The true king is here. Everything else flows from that. The kingdom of God is the territory under the dominion of His Son, the king. And wherever King Jesus is in charge, things are done differently from the kingdoms of this world. Very differently!

I believe home schooling, family business, hospitality, neighborhood-based church ministry, and Christian civil leadership are practical expressions of the new way of life in God’s kingdom. When we repent and turn away from the ways of this world, these are some of the things we turn to.

A Kingdom of Righteousness

All kingdoms are built on relationships. God’s kingdom, based as it is on righteousness, is a kingdom of right relationships. Satan’s kingdom is based on broken and distorted relationships. This should cause us to question the way the world does everything. As Christians we should expect our king to provide a better way to do everything. Everything from making a living and training up our children, to feeding the poor and ruling the nations, deserves to be examined in the light of God’s word. To do less is to continue blundering about in the darkness.

God’s ways are not merely different. They are far superior. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than man’s.

Better Ends & Better Means

God’s kingdom is superior in every way. First, His ends are better. He consistently feeds, clothes, nurses, educates, establishes justice, and so on. Satan never does this. But God’s means to these ends are also better. He calls His people to love one another in very personal ways. Husbands must love their wives, parents must care for their own children, neighbors must care for neighbors, and rulers must be the servants of all. In other words, God’s kingdom is a kingdom of right relationships that produce right results.

Big, impersonal institutions, like the public schools with their factory atmosphere, have no place in God’s kingdom—because here, relationships are as important as results.

If home schooling, family business, and hospitality are more compatible with God’s kingdom than public schools and international corporations are, then anyone with a true sense of the Kingdom of God will eventually feel convicted about his “worldly ways,” repent, and turn to the ways of God’s kingdom.

Think about what happens to the kingdom of God when Christian parents neglect their own children and presume that unbelievers will train them. What happens in the kingdom when a family disregards God’s counsel concerning debt? What do you think takes place, or fails to take place, when Christians do not practice guest room and meal-time hospitality? Righteous relationships and righteous results are aborted!

So, repent of more than just your smoking, drinking, and carrying on. “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness” and everything you need will flow to you through the right relationships—the personal relationships—the family, church, and neighborhood relationships—that make up God’s kingdom.

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