“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” — Matthew 6:33
Growing up as a believer in a Christian home, I can’t tell you how many times I had read or heard this verse through the years. I also can’t tell you what I actually understood about this verse. Looking back, it’s clear to me that merely reading these words did not mean I had eyes to see.
It wasn’t until this past year that I began to understand the meaning, and I began to understand my lack of previous understanding. It took someone specifically targeting my top idol by saying to me: “seeking first the kingdom of God means you should seek His kingdom above your children’s education.”
As a homeschool mom, this was completely disorienting, and as an American, culturally blasphemous. If there’s anything our society holds sacred, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, it’s that our children’s education is the top priority. If I demoted this as a priority, what would people think? How would my children fare? And how could I properly disciple them if they were not my top priority?
Despite the discomfort, I knew enough to know that God does not give instruction lightly. If He tells us to do something, there’s a reason—actually, countless layers of reasons, untold goodness and fruit. So, after taking the Perspectives course and having a vision of what this could look like, I decided to say yes to a practical, time-consuming kingdom task that would subtract from my homeschool hours, or at least make it necessary for me to be more creative with those hours. I said yes to tutoring a Muslim refugee in English. Before COVID hit, I’d pack up my four children and head over to her home near Clifton twice a week from 10-12. We’d chat and study English, I’d break up my children’s fights in front of her, and my baby would sometimes fall asleep on the way home—no proper nap that day—making it even harder to do afternoon school.
I seriously cannot believe the fruit that God has brought forth from this simple, shaky act of obedience. My Muslim friend introduced me to more of her friends, and they also wanted language partners. Many amazing women from GRC stepped up to volunteer and are meeting regularly with a language partner—at first it was my friend’s friends, now it is my friend’s friend’s friends. The Christian women are helping them with English, sharing their time and their lives with them, praying for them, sharing their testimonies, being a friend. Through the grace of God only, I’m also leading a Bible study over Zoom with four Muslim women each week. And all this growth has happened since COVID.
And what about my children’s education and discipleship? It’s interesting—when you study the formation of the early church in the New Testament, you see an emphasis on making disciples who make disciples. Reading about this it suddenly occurred to me: I cannot disciple my children if I’m showing them that my discipleship starts and ends with them. I must train them to be outwardly focused—to make disciples who make disciples. I have given up several hours a week for this ministry, but my children will grow up seeing their parents actively engage and love Muslim neighbors. They will remember waking up late at night or early in the morning and finding me or my husband in the middle of a Bible study with Muslims, or praying with our Christian brothers and sisters for our Muslim friends. They will see that the Christian walk means seeking out and loving the lost. I could have told them that, yes, but how much more powerful is it to show them? I have no control over whether or not they will believe, but they will know that I truly believe.
Finally, seeking the kingdom first is an act of trust. Like taking rest on the Sabbath, we are trusting that even though worldly wisdom would tell us that what we are doing is foolish, if God commands it, it is wisdom.
Kate Son is a member of GRC and serves on its Missions Team. She and her husband, Daniel, will be hosting the Perspectives NJ 2020 course starting on Sept. 6th.