A segmented life can be a very overwhelming life. Building many different kingdoms through life can feel like I could be buried rather than crowned. When the many hats we wear mess with our identity or cause us to miss our values, something needs to change. Trying to be good at or find meaning in the many things that require my attention today, can be exhausting. Life today presents the challenge to become very good at juggling. Many times it can feel like we are juggling knives. Miss one, handle it incorrectly, or lose focus and you may get hurt or hurt someone else. Does life have to be this challenging? Should my life be defined by all the things I do? Is my worth based on the sum of my parts? Which segment of my life (or which kingdom) do I want to be remembered for? Could I possibly be known for all of them? Work, marriage, parenting, friends, etc.
My grandfather was a “jack of all trades.” Everything he had to offer was freely given to the community. At the end of his earthly life, he was not known for all that he did, but the nature that poured through all that he did. It was that nature that caused him to be known. Had he been of a different nature, others may never known him. As it was, he was known for being a generous and caring man who selflessly gave himself to those in need. One thing marked him, but that one thing flowed through all he did.
Matthew 6:33 shares a truth with us from the lips of Jesus. He shared it right after talking to His disciples about things unbelievers worry about. He instructs us not to worry about things like what we will eat or what we will wear. He says rather, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Here is my question: If I seek first the kingdom and all these other things we spend our life seeking are added, what is left? It would appear to me that if one thing leads to all things, I’m finished seeking.
Follow this. The kingdom is where the King is. Righteousness is us in His presence. We seek God’s presence and pursue intimacy with Him first. Our soul finds what it’s looking for and I can rest. No more seeking life in the other things I do. No more seeking security, things, or identity. I find it in the Kingdom and the King. From there I don’t have to leave. The Kingdom is in me and I follow what/who I find. My life ceases to be an endless seeking for meaning, identity, or success. It becomes, rather, a fulfilling of what I found in my Father, King, Creator.
We all have things we have to accomplish during a day and no one is suggesting a monastery life. However, we need to quit segmenting our life into spiritual time, work time, me time, family time, etc. We need to follow the kingdom into all these things. Take the classic Mary and Martha story found in John. Martha was exhausted in trying to serve. She was resentful of Mary for leaving her to “do it all.” When she expresses her frustrations to Jesus, she is not met with justification but correction. She is told that Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening, had chosen the best thing. Furthermore, what Mary had chosen would not be taken from her. It may be simplistic, but Mary had chosen connection. It’s not that serving was wrong. However, when Jesus is sitting and speaking, we should be sitting and listening. When Jesus gets up and begins serving, we should get up and be serving. Our life should be about connection at all times. It becomes about what we do with Him, rather than for Him. We don’t want to miss encounters with Him. We should understand this on a relational point of view. Sitting, hearing and seeing are so important because that is where I come to know Him and His nature. It’s where the kingdom, God’s nature, is formed in me. It’s not God barking orders. It’s me being led by His nature in me. It’s taking time to listen, it’s taking time to stop for the one in need on the way to where I was going. It’s being fruitful in the things I do because of connection, rather than unfruitful through disconnection. I’m not trying to be seen in order to find an identity through all I do, but fulfilling an identity in all I do. Are we, like Martha, asking Jesus to bless what we are doing? Or, are we, through connection, doing what Jesus is blessing?
The picture of the perfect Son, Jesus, gives us the standard. Jesus said that He did nothing except what He saw the Father doing. He said nothing except what He heard the Father saying. Like Father, like Son. We want to cultivate that kind of life. We may struggle with what this looks like. However, we must first believe that it is possible or we will not pursue it. The reality is that Jesus came to restore our connection to our loving, speaking, relational Father. We don’t lose ourselves when we come to Jesus, we find ourselves. We take on His nature and His image. Then, as He is, so are we.