We are all seeking something. Some seek after affirmation, others after wealth, power, or prestige. Still others are seeking simpler things, such as daily food and clothing. Whatever we seek, it has the power to become our lives, to consume us entirely.
Knowing this, Jesus instructed those who would follow him to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). If you are like me, you probably read that with an emphasis upon the word “first.” We say we are to seek FIRST the reign and righteousness of God. Thus leaving the impression that God’s reign and righteousness are first among almost equals.
But the emphasis is not found in the order but in the object. The seeking of God’s reign and righteousness, in contrast to that of the Pharisees seeking their own (Matt. 5:20), should be stressed.
Might we even be misrepresenting Jesus when we say we must put God first before others? Consider the Holy Spirit’s declaration in Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Christ is not a part of our life. In reality he cannot be but a part. He must be our life. Instead of seeing a list of priorities, where God is placed at the top, we ought to think of our lives more like a wheel, with God at the center and all other aspects are the spokes. No matter what spoke is currently at the top of the circle, the hub is always at the center. God permeates into all aspects of our life, and in this way, he is our life.
Every word that we speak, every decision that we make, every action that we take, should be done with God’s will at the center of it all (Colossians 3:17, 23; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
The key to making Christ our life is denying ourselves. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Pride and selfishness seem to be at the root of all sin. Self-denial is not easy and we cannot accomplish it alone. In picturing the process of the new birth, Paul states that he had been “crucified with Christ” and that “Christ lives” in him (Galatians 2:20). That new birth is accomplished by God making us alive (Colossians 2:12, 13).
Yet, those who had already died to sin were told to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). Even though we have been born again, even though we have been crucified with Christ, we must continually decide to deny ourselves and follow Jesus.
There are many things which compete daily for your attention, any one of which could become your life. But only Jesus can give you life eternal. Who is your life?