These are the verses that stuck with me today:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 13:44-46, NIV)
The kingdom of heaven is worth so much to these guys that they both sold all that they had to get it. This is true both of the man who wasn’t looking for it – but discovered it – and the one who searched high and low for it.
- I kept thinking, “What’s so amazing about the kingdom of heaven that it would be worth so much to these men?”
- I didn’t think of this other question, but one of the commentaries I read brought it up, “How is this not salvation by works?”
I’ll attempt to address these questions.
There are a lot of blessings (er, benefits) that come with the kingdom of God that people seek and place high value on. Things like:
- Pain avoidance – from the “blazing furnace,” presumably hell, mentioned in vs. 42
- Community – all those friends in the Kingdom
- Blessings – after all, sometimes God answers prayers for some pretty nice things and circumstances
- Spirituality – that sense of being close to God, being “spiritual”
- Usefulness – finding a place of service, especially exciting when you’re part of a movement of God and see an impact on many lives
- Peace – that sense that all is fine, that God is in charge
- Maturity – spiritual growth; real personal change
These are all really nice parts of God’s Kingdom that I’ve enjoyed in the past. They’ve been a large part of my faith, what kept me going. And I dare say that many folks find their greatest blessings in these aspects of the kingdom, as well.
And sometimes I would have valued these benefits of the kingdom enough to pay for them. But such a transaction would be “works,” a sort of negotiation with God: I’ll hang in with you if you provide these things, etc. (we don’t realize how much we do this, either, but we all do).
But in the last few years, these blessings of the kingdom just haven’t done it for me (in part, because God took some of them away).
I wanted more.
I think the key in all this today was in the notes of one of my Bibles about these verses. The notes referred to Philippians 3:8 and affirmed where my mind had been going off and on all day. In that verse, Paul says:
…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.(NIV)
The Kingdom of God IS ultimately the presence of God. Check out Revelation on that score. It’s where the sun don’t have to shine because God is all the light required. He’s the beauty to which all earthly beauty points.
He’s the holiday at sea we all deeply long for.
If the Kingdom of God IS Jesus, then He’s worth all I have.
Not at all by way of negotiation: You can’t “buy God.”
But by way of worship: “God, I would give ANYTHING, EVERYTHING, just to know you better.”
Oh, God, I want to know you that way. I want to be so overwhelmed by YOU that I would sell all I own just to be in your presence. Amen
Readings: Genesis 39:1-40:23, Psalm 10:1-11, Proverbs 4:1-6, Matthew 13:31-58. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.