Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like...

Matthew 13: 44-52

44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.  47 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

I am not preaching on this text for Sunday, but I did a little homily on it just a few hours ago for our Senior Service.  Something struck me as I prepared for the homily.

All my years, I have assumed the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure or a pearl of great price.  I've assumed Jesus was making a direct comparison and a direct metaphor.

The consequences are plain for you and I: sell everything; give up everything for that one thing that satisfies.  We must sacrifice on our part to gain the treasure.  We have to do something to inherit the treasure of the field or the pearl of great price.

But what if the metaphor is the entire saying?

Think about it in those terms for just a moment.  Don't relegate the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure or a pearl.  Think about it in terms of the ENTIRE parable.  It particularly works strongly for the second of these two sayings.  The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.  He finds one.  He sells everything to obtain it.

What kind of state is the merchant in?  Where does he find himself after he has obtained the treasure?  What happens to the guy who purchases the field and has obtained the treasure?  What would their sense of being be?  (Awkward question and sentence structure, I know.)

If upon obtaining the treasure, they would be in a state of complete enjoyment and satisfaction?  Would they find a sense of bliss, peace, and joy?  Would they worry about anything?  Would they consume themselves with what their neighbor had?  Would their sense of joy and completeness trickle into their other relationships?  What state of being would they be in if they had obtained such a treasure?

Think about that.  Think about it hard.

And what if, as Christians, we already knew we had obtained the great treasure?  What if we already knew the pearl of great price was ours?  What if we already knew we had obtained the most valuable thing in the world?  How would that affect us as we lived our our daily lives?  How would we "live and move and have our being?"  What would our lives look like?

The Kingdom of Heaven?!!

And the Gospel--the Good News--is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have obtained the treasure!!!  We have obtained the pearl of great price!!!  We have been reconciled unto God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and given eternal life!!!  God has given Himself for us--broken people that we are. 

And yet, many times, we don't realize it.  We get so consumed with our counterfeit gods and our self-righteousness to the point we become bitter, angry, and frustrated at the world and with our neighbor (who should just do what we say, and then everything would be okay!!!).  We fail to act in a spirit of love and compassion toward each other and toward the world and even toward God because we fail to grasp that He has already given us the treasure. 

Ponder for a moment that fact.  Through Christ, you have been justified.  God views you as His precious child--through no action of your own.  You have been given something worth everything.  How does that affect your heart? 

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