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A Chapel Talk given at ILC, Eau Claire —

“Do All To The Glory Of God”

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:23

This is the sort of word from God that we chapel speakers like to use at the beginning of the school year, for then it’s easy to lead into questions such as: Why are you here at ILC? What do you expect to find here that you would not get at a public school? Since we are now closing in on the ending of the school year, I ask: “Have you been occupied with what our Lord Jesus speaks of: the sine qua non, the prime essential of all human needs, the greatness of God’s Kingdom that has opened the gates of paradise for you and slammed shut the gates of hell?

Together we have been seeking the heart of God this year. We have been seeking the face of God and the hand of God. And God has never closed His heart or turned His face or withdrawn His hand. So we have not let our chief preoccupation be the bell schedule and the social opportunities, for we have been seeking what God has for our souls, for our eternal welfare–and the earthly stuff will follow. Thus it has always been with God’s children, be they students or teachers, elderly or young.

You would not like to think so, but a good many Christians make it evident that they do not understand this main business of their life, even when they claim that their religion comes first. And many are serious and sincere about that. But what they are doing is viewing their life as divided into compartments. There is the secular part, and there is the sacred part. Certain minutes or hours are devoted to the sacred things such as worship, devotion, church activities, religion class. The rest come under the heading of eating, sleeping, working, relaxing. True disciples of Christ will say: “Of course, the sacred part is the most important.” And if this is what they think Jesus was talking about at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, they are quite wrong, at least in their mode of expression.

First, let us get better acquainted with a certain word from the mouth of Jesus. When our version says “Seek ye first . . . ” the Greek has the verb in the durative form, and we should translate: “Be seeking . . . “–constantly, enduringly, seeking to spend our life on it, to endure in it.

Thus: “Be constantly seeking to live under the benign, gracious, protective rule of our Savior-God.” This requires constant striving, simply because our old nature is dead set against it. Being constantly desirous of and in possession of that kingdom’s righteousness, which is forgiveness and freeness from sin, requires effort because the old Adam of pride and self-rightouesness is constantly against it.

But the emphasis here is also upon the word “first”: “seek ye first the kingdom of God…” This does not mean “first in order” or “first thing in the morning, after which you can get on with your other business” . . . . Rather it means: in everything let your first and primary concern be that you are in the Kingdom and that you are living your life unto God.

This certainly calls upon us to let our personal lives be a unit, not a set of categories in which we now pray, then study, then play, then go out on a date, then attend church, then eat and then do homework. Our whole life has been transported into a new situation, namely, into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. And here we have but one governing principle: to be in this kingdom, whatever we are doing at the moment.

Let me illustrate with an example that dates me. After World War II thousands of bombers were taken over for commercial service. They were “converted” from war machines to commercial airliners. Same wings, same fuselage, same motors. But the bomb racks were gone, the gun turrets removed. The plane got a new owner, carried new cargo, and had a new schedule. ALL THE TIME. The converted plane does not spend one hour each day killing people.

We too are converted. And how could we find it possible to divorce any portion of our life’s activity from our living in God’s kingdom? This we are assured of from another word of God: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Easily we know all about a Christian’s imperfections in practicing and using his newness of life; nonetheless, we will maintain and cherish our new life’s status as members of God’s kingdom–first, last, and always.

That has been our concern this year at ILC for one another. You the student, and you the professor, and you the staff worker who make that kingdom your first concern from morning until night and back again. We will then surely not pursue our affairs in harmful ways, in an evil spirit, with corrupt purpose. We will, on the contrary, make the most ordinary tasks glow with the glory of God.

And we cannot be the losers for this wonderful attitude of heart: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” All the others things that this world strives for and can be blessed with will be ours also–because Jesus loves us, and enjoys our company, and enjoys blessing us.

–Prof. Em. Paul Koch