For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
When Jesus told the disciples that they were to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, He used a strong word, one which means to earnestly seek something, something worthy of the time and effort it takes to reach that goal. Jesus rightfully was saying, "You can seek and find God's kingdom, and when you do, all the things that you spend your time pursuing will be yours along with spiritual resources you will never have when earning a living is your only goal."
Stop for a moment. How do you spend most of your time? In reflecting on what drives people from more than 110 countries of the world, I believe the thirst for three things drives most of us: first, money, then, fame or notoriety, and third, power and influence. But strangely, these are the very things which Jesus said should not occupy first place in your list of goals and priorities.
Standing at the entrance to God's kingdom, money or gold will be of no use whatsoever. True, money opens plenty of doors in the kingdoms of the twenty-first century, but sometimes all the money in the world won't open the door.
Sir Ernest Shackleton discovered that in 1914 when his ship, Endurance, was crushed by the Arctic icepack. The ship's designer intended that the freezing ice would simply push it up so it would rest on the ice pack. But it didn't work. When the ice crushed the ship, Shackleton called his men and said that survival was paramount. A thousand miles of cold Arctic ice stood between them and Elephant Island. He told his men that they could take with them only two pounds of personal gear, only what was essential to survival. To prove his point, he took his gold cigarette lighter, and several gold coins and threw them on the ground, grinding them into the ice with his foot. Gold coins are worthless on artic ice just as they are at the entrance to God's kingdom.
Jesus is saying that spending your life's energy in the pursuit of success is a waste of time. It will neither buy happiness nor entrance to life. But what of the second goal many pursue – that of fame or notoriety? It's nice to be recognized for your achievement, but God takes little note of the Doves, the Oscars, or the Angel awards.
I'm thinking of a successful businessman who got bumped on a flight. Angry, he pushed his way to the front of the line and shoved his ticket into the face of an agent who explained that there were no flights available. "Do you know who I am?" he demanded. The weary agent looked at the man, then reached for the microphone and announced over the P.A., "There a gentleman here who doesn't know who he is. If anyone can identify him, please come forward."
Power and influence may open doors to exclusive clubs where you live, but only God's grace opens the door to the kingdom of God. Paul explained, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Those who enter God's kingdom become brothers and sisters where no titles apply, where all are equal, where all are there not because of their own merits or achievement but because Jesus Christ, God's Son, came to earth and showed us the way back to heaven.
"The Invisible Kingdom." While it is that, it is a real one where men and women, teens and children all over the world who have bowed their knees to God's Son are joined together in the invisible fellowship we call the Church. It's a very real kingdom.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28