Friday, July 12, 2013

My Favorite Things

That’s the title of a well known tune.  The song is by Rogers and Hammerstein, from the musical “The Sound of Music”.  It quickly became a Christmas classic.  One of the best known versions is a jazz instrumental that John Coltrane recorded in 1961.  It was 14 minutes of bliss for any real jazz lover.  All of that came to mind as I was thinking about my favorite Bible verse.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
 
If you’ve been reading this blog for anything longer than two days, you know that’s my favorite verse.  But, as I was thinking about it, it struck me that any concept that we consider foundational is chosen because it speaks to our personal experience or to things we want to attain.  And, yes, for me, this verse is foundational.  So, what is it about Matthew 6:33 that speaks so strongly to the inner Bill?
 
First, remember this was spoken by Jesus to the disciples.  God communicating with His creation.  And, because God is no respecter of persons, Christ is speaking, by extension, to all believers.  Extend that a little further and He’s talking to me.  I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea of God wanting to communicate with me personally thrills me.
 
The verse says we’re to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  We’ve spoken, before, about both the kingdom and the righteousness.  But there’s another aspect of this part of the verse that sticks out like a sore thumb if we understand God’s heartbeat.
  • We know from other verses that God wants a relationship with man.
  • Because of that, when Jesus says “seek”, we can be sure that He’s not talking about some wild goose chase.  Both the kingdom and the righteousness are findable.  He’s saying “go find it”, not “go search for something so well hidden that it’ll never be found”.
  • We have a tendency to take things for granted if they’re handed to us.  Appreciation level: zero.  By making us active participants in the process, we begin to comprehend the enormity of what God is freely offering us.  We see the value of the blessings.
The implications of that part of the verse are huge.  God cares for us so much that He not only gives us so much, but He gives it to us in a way that we can receive it.  That’s a true sign of love.

Then there’s the tail end of the verse.  All what things will be added?  Coming into this verse, Jesus talks about nature and how none of it has to strive to obtain the basic necessities.  Not the birds, nor the animals, nor the plant life.  And the verse after this one says not to worry about what’s going to happen in the future.

Necessities:
  1. Be diligent in dealing with the necessities of life, but focus on God, not the necessities.
  2. We can do that because we can trust Him.  As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”.
The future:
  1. Don’t worry about the future.  We can’t control it, but God can.
  2. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” We have a tendency to fear the unknown.  And we overthink things to the point of creating worse scenarios than we’re ever likely to experience.  This is saying “Cut it out! You’re overdramatizing!”.
  3. Like the verses about the necessities, the underlying truth is that we need to focus on God and trust Him.  It’s the only way we’ll get through things peacefully.
Having said all that (and the things I’ve said in other posts), what makes this my favorite or foundational verse?

There came a point in my walk with God where I began to really trust God.  That trust went from understanding what the Word says about trusting Him to experiencing it in action in my life.  I was seeing God actually give me reasons to trust Him.  My experience with God in the world gave me reason to trust that small portion of the spiritual realm I experienced was true.  And it made me want all of it, and that 100% relationship with God.

I’m still growing in all of that.  But Matthew 6:33 is a solid foundation of my Christian walk.  I’m just beginning to latch onto the fact that everything that comes my way is allowed by God.  And He allows it because it’s all for my benefit.  Which means that I no longer want to complain about the things or people I don’t like.  Am I successful at that?  Sometimes.  But at least I now mostly complain to God in the privacy of my prayer closet, not in public.

God gave me enough experience to have an ever growing faith in what I haven’t yet experienced.  That made Matthew 6:33 a solid rock to build the rest of my spiritual life upon.  That’s what made it my favorite verse and one of my favorite things.  And John Coltrane’s 14 minute performance of “My Favorite Things” is also one of my favorite things.  What are some of yours, from God?

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