One of my favorite old epic historical drama movies is called "The Kingdom of Heaven". It is set back in the horrific time of "The Crusades" when whole armies of Christians and Muslims would battle for the right to call the City of Jerusalem their own.
That is not why I liked it. The Crusades represent a horrific and bloody time in human history. And it makes me sad that Christ's name was used in any way for it.
I liked it because it set up dilemma after dilemma that required the main character, Balian of Ibelin, to decide what values he would use to make decisions in the face of the world's circumstances. He made many mistakes along the way, but as the movie progressed, he kept growing into a brave and principled warrior-thinker.
By the end, the momentum of the larger plot within the movie has the viewer wishing Balian would compromise his values for the sake of the story. But the momentum of the personal growth of Balian, and from the standard of what is morally right and wrong, and what would bring a human heart peace, you can not help but respect Balian's choice to live by what Christian's might call an even larger plot, a larger story.
Why am I telling you this? Well, a simplistic understanding of the movie's title would equate "The Kingdom of Heaven" as the Holy City of Jerusalem. Most people probably left the movie thinking just that. The Kingdom of Heaven is a "place". Likewise, many Christians today understandably presume that when the term is used in scripture it is referring to "Heaven". Yet another place.
But when you read the Bible and how it uses the word Kingdom, you find that it is not a place at all. It can be present in places, but it is not a specific place.
In short, the Kingdom is present wherever God's will is being done. And so I love that movie, because to me, the struggle for the "Kingdom of Heaven" represented in the movie was not the battle for Jerusalem taking place, it was the battle to discern and obey God's will that Balian was doing.
So, church, when Jesus says, "seek first His kingdom", he is telling you to seek, and submit to, the will of God.
This makes sense of what of Paul says, when he declares that "The Kingdom is a matter of peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17) And when Jesus says, "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21).
Today, we talk about this Kingdom matter of peace.