Monday, October 27, 2008

The Pearl of Great Price

No, this isn't about the Mormon book of that title - it's about Jesus' parable.

"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.

Matthew 13:44-46, TNIV

A few thoughts:

1. Isn't it interesting that the man sells everything that he has "in his joy"? He gives up everything he has and sells it and does so joyfully, because he is overwhelmed with joy at the value of the treasure.

2. We'd probably say the merchant was dangerously obsessive. After all, what good is it to gain a great pearl, but to have lost everything else, including any way to protect it, anywhere to keep it, even anywhere to live. But surely that is the point. The kingdom of heaven really is valuable enough to lose everything for. And we don't need anywhere to keep it.

3. When preaching on this, we tend to say that you don't really have to give everything up, but you have to be willing to give anything up. I think that's watering it down too much. I think we have to go through the psychological process of counting everything else as lost, so that we no longer claim anything as truly our own except Jesus. Only once we have lost our hold on everything else are we truly free to serve Jesus with them. Only once we have lost everything are we truly free from the things we thought we owned.