Like a bottle rocket in the night sky it illuminated my heart with a burst of fire. Forty years of familiarity, of reading, quoting, and singing the text of Matthew 6:33, suddenly collapsed into an insight as fresh as a mountain stream. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”; not the righteousness of works, not my own failed righteousness, not the skinny-hearted righteousness of religion, but HIS righteousness, the righteousness “which comes from God by FAITH”. (Romans 1:17) For years I’ve assumed this thing I was to seek with the kingdom was about doing things. I was wrong. “Doing things” can never earn the righteousness of God.
The righteousness of God is the King himself! And the only hope for the human race is to receive both the kingdom and the righteousness of the King. They go together like peas and carrots!
No man, I’m convinced, can truly embrace the Kingdom while at the same time worrying about his own righteousness. Sin management will undermine the kingdom as surely as insecurity will poison a marriage. That’s why Jesus settled the sin issue once “for all time”. (Hebrews 10:12) His righteousness – the righteousness we are to seek – is one hundred percent from faith to faith, forever from start to finish the righteousness of Christ. There’s simply nothing to add to it but the giddy gratefulness of a complete and continuous rescue from sin.
While evangelicalism embraces a king without a kingdom, (righteousness holding on for heaven), liberalism promotes a kingdom without a king, (a better world apart from the cross). But the glad news, the freeing news of the gospel is a Kingdom built on the righteousness of God himself. It’s a king and a kingdom.