“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew. 6:33 NIV).
This verse is the first Bible verse that I ever really pondered. It was the wedding text of my aunt and uncle who were married on my seventh birthday. At that time, I did not understand what it meant to seek the kingdom of God or his righteousness. But I did know that the verse and the corresponding song which I learned were part of a beautiful ceremony. As their flower girl, this verse meant that several hours would be added to my bed time and I would enjoy the privilege of staying up past midnight for the first time ever!
As I grew in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ I considered that perhaps Matthew 6:33 meant that if you make spiritual matters your first priority and try to live according to God’s instructions then you will live the good life. Part of me thought that if I did what God wanted and focused solely on spiritual practices without reacting to injustices in the world, neither I nor those around me would suffer from a lack of accessibility, exclusion, or other injustices. I thought that if I relied on the Lord, he would supernaturally intervene and, if I had faith, he would provide all of the good things that I desired for myself and others.
As I grew up, I realized this is not usually the way that God works. I became somewhat frustrated and discouraged because even if you pray often, make hard choices and try to do the right thing, you may still have to deal with a lack of accessibility, exclusion, and all kinds of other challenges.
I am not sure that I fully understand what this verse means now but it occurred to me that seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness is about more than making God your first priority and engaging in spiritual disciplines. Seeking God’s kingdom also means responding to the injustices that we or others experience and advocating for God’s kingdom values like love, inclusion and accessibility for all. Through these kinds of initiatives, God’s “up there” Kingdom is increasingly represented “down here.”