Jesus’ priorities

Over the years, people have tried to claim Jesus talked most about money (especially during the giving series each fall). They’ve also claimed that he talked most bout love. You could argue that he talked most about farming, because he has so many parables about it. But whether he talked about money, farming, treasures, food, or love, he was most often actually on the subject of the Kingdom of God (also known as the Kingdom of Heaven, occasionally the Kingdom of the Son, or just the Kingdom).

But because we aren’t always clear what he means by it, we might not pay enough attention to his most important topic. So it seems like a good idea to write a little article about the Kingdom of God. I hope that everyone who wants to be a follower of Jesus will want to know about the most important thing he talked about!

For me, the clearest way to begin is with a line from the Lord’s prayer, that Jesus taught to hi followers in Matthew 6: 10

“Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Kingdom is another way of talking about God’s will. The two phrases are two ways of saying the same thing. But it would take aa lot more words to explain what we mean, like this: “Lord, we pray that what happens on earth will be according to your will, just as it is already that way in heaven. And that would be the coming of your kingdom into reality among us.”

It’s pretty much that simple, but let me run over a few more examples of Jesus’ sayings about the Kingdom: There’s a whole stack of them in Matthew 13:

  • The parable of the sower who throws seed everywhere, which he later explain as a “parable of the kingdom”
  • The parable of the weeds and the wheat (or wheat and tares in older translations)
  • The parable of the mustard seed that starts small and grows
  • The parable of the yeast, again starting small and making a big difference
  • The parable of the treasure hidden in a field, for which we give up everything else
  • The parable of the merchant who trades everything for a priceless pearl
  • The parable of the net thrown into the sea, collecting all kinds of fish.

That’s a wealth of parables for one chapter in Matthew! Jesus keeps making clear that not everyone who hears his parables will understand what he’s talking about. But if we sum them up, we keep hearing that God’s will (the Kingdom) is so valuable and treasured that it’s worth us giving everything we own to have it.

So, what is God’s will that we should value it so much, that it will cost us everything we have, and that it will change the world? Let’s go back to the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done.” When we commit to doing God’s will, that is the greatest treasure. of all. Doing God’s will probably looks different for every person, depending on the specifics of our call. For one person, it means becoming a monk and living a life of constant prayer. For another person it means teaching children in a school. For another person it means looking after an aging family member, or caring for others, day after day. And for another it may mean giving away many of our possessions to liberate ourselves from greed, and to help the poor. All of these are examples of what the Bible calls justice. They all cost us a lot in terms of our convenience and comfort and our previous expectations. But they’re all ways of doing God’s will, of bringing God’s kingdom into our lives.

All the things that we can do to bring closer God’s will and God’s kingdom can be summed up in a few other words that Jesus liked to use: love, justice, righteousness, and peace. The Kingdom is all of these things, lived out by every one of us in a different way.