Priorities haven't changed much in the 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Then, as now, the people of the world worry about their earthly treasures, whether thieves will break through and steal them; they are concerned about their life, what they will eat, and what they will drink, and for their body, what they shall put on.
But Jesus says,
Is not the life worth more than food, and the body more of value than raiment [clothing]. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither reap, nor yet carry into the barns: and yet your heavenly father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you (though he took thought therefore) could put one cubit onto his stature? And why care ye then for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They labor not, neither spin. And yet for all that I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his royalty was not arrayed like unto one of these.
Wherefore if God so clothe the grass; which is today in the field, and tomorrow shall be cast into the furnace: shall he not much more do the same unto you, oh ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? After all these things seek the Gentiles. For your heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
If we're not to gather earthly treasures or worry about food and drink, what are we to make the top priority in our lives? According to Jesus, "seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be ministered unto you" (Matthew 6:33). I think our highest priority is encompassed in this Scripture because Jesus made it the first in importance.
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven" is just words until we have an idea of what the Kingdom of Heaven is. What is a kingdom anyway?
Let's look at the "United Kingdom," a worldly government. The United Kingdom (U.K.) is a monarchy in northwestern Europe occupying most of the British Isles, divided into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The U.K.is a government of men who have come together for common purpose. The inhabitants are subject to the king or monarch. A kingdom, then, is typically a government, with a king or queen as the head.
So if "kingdom" means "government" then the Kingdom of Heaven is the government of Heaven. "Seek ye first the government of Heaven and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be ministered unto you."
Jesus is actually giving us the order of things. First you pursue the government of God, and His righteousness, and as you do that, everything else that is needful will be added.
Many people say, "Jesus is Lord." If Jesus truly is Lord, isn't that the same as saying Jesus is the head? A Christian government is where Jesus is the King or head. It is a special kind of monarchy called a theocracy.
Like all governments, there are laws. And the laws that we are subscribing to are encompassed in these two: to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In the time of Christ, Rome understood that this Man came to establish His government. When Jesus stood before Pilate, he asked Him, "Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus said unto him: Thou sayest." (Matthew 27:11).
Jesus also explained that His kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom were of this world, then would my ministers surely fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate said unto him: Art thou a king then?"
Jesus answered that it was for this very purpose that He came into the world - to be King.
Thou sayeth that I am a king. For this cause was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. And all that are of the truth hear my voice.
Pilate said unto him: What thing is truth? And when he had said that, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them: I find in him no cause at all.
Pilate washed his hands of this just man. He knew it was out of envy that the high priests had delivered Jesus to him (Matthew 27:18). They had been plotting to kill this rival King. They had held a council to determine what to do.
"If we let him escape thus, all men will believe on him, and the Romans shall come and take away our country and the people" (John 11:48).
Even though Pilate attempted to release Jesus, the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should destroy Jesus (Matthew 27:20).
The chief priests and Pharisees were jealous of this upstart. That's why Jesus Christ was executed. Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross:
JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:19).
But the Jews did not receive Him as their King. They just wanted Him dead. "Better for us if one man die, lest the whole nation perish" (See John 11:50). Therefore, they knowingly made war on Heaven.
Jesus warned us that nations shall rise against nations and so it has been throughout history. Let's look at what happened to the Indians in America.
White man came across the seas and said, "Look at all of this wonderful land! We want it." They saw that it was already inhabited by Indian nations. Why didn't white man say, "Hey brother, can I set up my house next to yours?" No, instead they sought to conquer the Indians.
Nobody really knows what all the issues were between the white man and the American Indian. Most of what we know is propaganda about the savage Redskins making war on the white man and, therefore, the red man had to be exterminated.
What is overlooked is the fact that the white man lusted after the land and its resources. They wanted to control it. The Indians needed to be conquered and their pagan government replaced with "civilized" government. Native Americans who would not give up their original government needed to be executed.
White man almost succeeded in stamping out the Native American religion and way of life. Near the end of this genocide process, white man finally had a soft-spot in his heart and set the few remaining Indian holdouts on reservations telling them, "You can keep your government within this territory, but don't you dare bring it out of there."
Of course they found the worst possible land for them, and if minerals or oil was later discovered, white man took it away and moved them somewhere else.
So the issue between the white man and Native Americans was government. And if you look at the reservations now, and the "Indian governments," almost all of them have been modified to "civilized" government, under the European format. I personally observed how most of these Indian nations have imitated State constitutions and are deeply dependent upon State funding and resources.
What are wars all about? Is it not men lusting to govern others and control resources? What happened in the time of Christ? Christ was executed because He brought His Father's government to earth and Rome recognized it.
The Pharisees, who were supposed to be God's people, also saw that He was bringing a better government than what they had. They saw that they would lose their power if this better government caught on. Jesus accused these hypocrites of shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men (Matthew 23:13).
If you look at the book of Acts, Chapter 17, you will find the city authorities troubled when they heard about these people who were turning the world upside down, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. Why were the rulers of the city in an uproar? Because Paul and Jason and the others were promoting a rival government.
It is the same today. True Christians are promoting Christian government, modeled after the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters 5 - 7). They are "Christianizing" people, not "civilizing" them.
Most Christians don't know their identity as citizens of Heaven. Therefore, they have succumbed to the pressures of becoming friends of the world. They have modified the Church form of government and put themselves under the umbrella of the State. The Bible calls them a harlot because they are no longer the unspotted bride of Christ. They have spoiled themselves by becoming entangled with the secular forces.
Most churchgoers do not realize that their congregation has been compromised. Their church is incorporated with the State. Lawyers have completed the paperwork that transfers the headship of Jesus Christ over to the State Attorney General. Why is the State in the church's business anyway? Is it because they are jealous of this other government and do not want any rivals to their power?
What about obeying the "law of the land"? The law of the land is merely the set of rules or laws for a particular government. Does a Christian have a law of the land? Yes! It is the law that has been since the beginning: love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). This is the "law of the land" for a Christian.
Where is the territory for a Christian? Our territory is everywhere. Jesus is not satisfied just to have "America." He possesses the whole earth. And how do we know that? Because He told His followers, "I want you to go to all nations of the earth, and promote my government. Bring the nation of God to every creature" (See Mark 16:15). Therefore, the territory of Heaven's government is everywhere.
And His government reaches beyond outward actions, all the way to the heart and soul of every creature. The Sermon on the Mount points out that it is not enough to keep from physically committing adultery. "Whosoever looketh on a wife, lusting after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
So, each of us chooses whom we will obey. Every one of us is part of a government - either the one established by a body of men, or the one ordained by the only begotten Son of God. And He gives us warnings according to the one we choose.
Real Christians are few and far between. A Christian is one who has given his allegiance and loyalty to the government of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
And this government that was handed to Christ's followers is very real. For all who have yielded themselves to obey Christ, there will be persecution by rival governments. You see that in the book of Acts and in Apostle Paul's writings. "And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecutions" (2 Timothy 3:12).
Paul was beaten, imprisoned and beheaded for preaching the good news of the government of Heaven. In Damascus, Paul was let down the wall in a basket to escape from the hands of the governor (2 Corinthians 11:33). Ultimately Paul was beheaded for promoting a government that offered an alternative to Roman rule.
If you read the New Testament with government in mind, God's government, you'll start to understand the reason for the persecutions and executions. It is for this same reason that the Europeans were executing Native Americans. The Europeans did not want the government of red man. They wanted the red man to have the government of the Europeans, and that was what the issue was, and still is to this very day.
It is the same with Christians - those who are true Christians. Why are we being imprisoned and run off the land? We are being persecuted for our allegiance to a government that conflicts with the regime that is in power. They do not want Christians to be governed by Christ. They want them part of the world system. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
What about the United States making war on the Middle East? Again, this is an issue of government. One group of men is trying to impose their government upon another. And they are doing it through acts of war.
However, in the Christian government, we do not war in the same way as the world wars. The world thinks they see evil and attempts to overcome evil with more evil. Every major nation today believes that the end justifies the means. They murder, plunder and destroy to achieve their goals. So the way of war multiplies evil.
Two thousand years ago Christ brought God's way of overcoming evil - with good. During World War II, the Germans occupied France. The French would often kill the German soldier who was patrolling. Then the Germans would wipe out the whole block in retaliation - evil-for-evil, eye-for-eye style.
When the Germans marched into Denmark, the Danish people began a program of non-cooperation. When the German soldiers started patrolling the streets, the Danish applied the principle, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
They would say to the German soldier patrolling the block, "As a representative of the Nazi Government, you have no right to be here anymore than we would have the right to be in your land, but you are also a young man far from home. Maybe you're homesick, and if you, as a fellow human being, would like to take off your gun belt and come in and share our evening meal with us, you are welcome."
It usually didn't take more than one try. After that the German soldier started thinking, "Gee, these are nice people. What are we doing here?" The way of love began overcoming the way of evil.
The Christian government is available to all who believe, and citizens do not conquer by making war. They conquer by doing unto others what they would like done to them. Out of that love, they make the decision to enter God's government.
We must choose whom we will serve. It is obvious that no one can serve two masters, for "either he shall hate the one and love the other: or else he shall lean to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
"Master" also means "government" because what governs over you is a master. "Call no man master," is a warning not to let governments of the world master over you. No man rules over another in the Kingdom of Heaven.
If we say that Jesus is Lord, then everything we do is done in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The secular forces do everything in the name of their gods, "By the power invested in me by the State of Oregon." "In the name of the State of California." "Name" means "under the authority of." What are these other names whereby people are given authority? For a Christian, they are idols. The only name or authority for us is Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, "All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
In days of old, men went in the name or authority of the king. Today they go in the name of goddesses. These goddesses are represented at Washington D.C. in the capitol building. If you look up at the fresco in the capitol dome, you'll see ornate goddesses representing Pennsylvania or New York or Massachusetts.
What are they? They are worse than kings. They are not even under the names of men. They are pagan deities, commonly called States. Yes, they say it is a government of the people, but they act in the name of their goddess.
Jesus told us:
Fear not, little flock, for it is your father's pleasure to give you the kingdom.
And the writer of Hebrews urges us to join the race, laying aside all that presses us down and the sin that hangeth on:
Let us run with patience unto the battle that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, which for the joy that was set before him, abode the cross, and despised the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.
Later in the chapter he says:
See that ye despise not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not which refused him that spoke on earth: much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth, and now declareth saying: Yet once more will I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
No doubt the same that he sayeth, yet once more, signifieth the removing away of those things which are shaken, as of things which have ended their course: that the things which are not shaken may remain.
Wherefore if we RECEIVE A KINGDOM which is not moved, we have grace, whereby we may serve God and please him with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
We have a choice to receive this Kingdom, which cannot be moved, or stay oppressed under the secular forces, with their ever-moving statutes. We can live under the protection and benefits of the cities of the world or look for a city "having a foundation, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). "For here have we no continuing city: but we seek one to come" (Hebrews 13:14).