Matthew 6:33 says, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I'm asking myself these days what would happen if I really did strive for the kingdom of God above all else - food and clothing are the particular items that Jesus mentions as secondary, but by extension he seems to be saying that yearning and seeking after the kingdom of God should be more captivating and compelling than satisfying any possible human need.
The kids in the video are street children in Mwanza Tanzania. It is a scene taken from the documentary, "Darwin's Nightmare." Poverty has ravaged them, and the issues surrounding their destitution are complex and thorny. There is no easy solution, no clear enemy, no quick fix. Ecological issues, trade imbalances, government forces, the arms business and a half dozen other things conspire to so thoroughly rob these kids of dignity that they are willing to pummel one another in the frenzy to get a stupid fistful of rice. It will take men and women who are commited to seeing God's kingdom come in fullness there above their own comfort.
The New Revised Standard Version suggests that Matthew 6:33 can also be read, "But strive first for the kingdom of God and it's righteousness ..." Because the Hebrew mind so intermingled righteousness and justice, Jesus is calling us to strive first for kingdom justice.
What if striving for kingdom justice among prostitutes trumped striving after a boyfriend or girlfriend? What if striving for kingdom justice on behalf of those who have been dispossessed and pushed off their land took priority over adding on to our homes or moving into a bigger apartment? And what if striving for kingdom justice for these street kids was more motivating than striving after the frozen custard my family and I just indulged? What a scary and wild life we would have if we really did strive after God's kingdom before all else. But the promise is that relationships, and housing and food and all our human needs will be met for those who are hungrier for God's kingdom and it's righteousness than they are for Big Macs and American Eagle clothing and boyfriends/girlfriends.