“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
May God’s word find fertile ground in our hearts.
Treasure is a delight. Perhaps you remember going on a scavenger hunt. You are told what you are looking for, and you set off. You look in places that you can think of which seem logical, then you look in places that seem random. You may take the lid off of a can to hopefully find an item. You may open a mail box, or maybe dig a little hole by a flower in the garden. Sometimes you seem to get lucky – a quick attempt yields results. Sometimes, you end up finding something on the list you weren’t even looking for right then. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to find at least one item on the list. Whether you find something you are looking for right away, or whether you have to look in a lot of places and spend a lot of time doing it, a successful scavenger hunt is a good example of a process of discovery, of AHH HAAs, punctuated with exclamations – I found it! I got it! Here it is! Yes, discovering treasure is a delight.
A joy. That’s what both men in our Scripture reading today can verify. The man who found treasure in a field, went in joy and sold all he had to buy the field containing the treasure. Joy is an amazing thing. I describe it as the quality of unbridled enthusiasm, and the unleashing of an energy which propels you forward. The Scripture is surely telling us that these men who embraced the Kingdom of Heaven entered into a powerful flow of something that had completely gotten ahold of them.
Remember a time when you held in your hands something incredible – wonderful, amazing, almost indescribable in words. Maybe it was a beautiful ring inherited from a dear grandmother or mother. Perhaps it was a photograph of someone you dearly love, that you thought was lost or somehow ruined, and here, miraculously, you are holding it. Maybe it was holding your baby for the first time. So you know what it is to hold something beautiful and precious. Then you can easily picture our two men in the Scripture reading.
Sometimes, there are no words good enough to describe what is precious, but there are other ways to enter into that understanding. Looking into a person’s face can say more than words. Look into the faces of each man as he holds his new discovery in his hands. Can you see each of them, holding the treasure, holding the pearl up to the light, focusing exclusively and intently on what they were holding? Here is the unfolding - the exquisite beauty of this moment and what it meant begins to take root in their expressions. And as they bask in growing delight, their appreciation of the value they are holding gets fully revealed in their faces. And then something “clicks” and we see the each man reaching the summit – the fullness of revelation, the decision that will change the very course of their lives - the moment they decide to sell everything they have, to let go of everything they valued before, to possess that ONE Treasure – that one Pearl.
Notice the incomparable value of the kingdom of heaven. These two men, sell all they have to buy the field and buy the pearl willingly and joyfully – what a downright radical decision to come to with seemingly no hesitation, no second thoughts and no turning back.
You see what’s happening, right? They’ve done, as we would describe in business and financial terms, a cost-benefit analysis. On one side of the scale is they’ve placed the total worth of everything in their lives – stuff that previous to this may have had great value – we are talking about inherited possessions, or possessions that may have taken years of hard work by these men to obtain – in our terms, think property, houses, cars, 401Ks, savings accounts and other investments, careers and jobs, education, trips of a lifetime... The cost is huge, it is everything.
On the other side, the value of the Pearl. And the weightiness of the Pearl wins, hands down. The Pearl of Great Price far outweighs what it will cost to obtain it. But these men are good with that, because in having the treasure, the pearl, they have everything – tons more than they had before, and all that they need, unparalleled abundance, a cup overflowing, for this life and the next. WOW!
We’re given this example of worth – the treasure and the pearl, to illustrate in terms we can relate to, the value of the kingdom of heaven. Or we can also refer to it as the kingdom of God. That holy realm inhabited by the Creator – the place we can inhabit by completely giving over our hearts, and all of the nooks and crannies in our hearts, to God, with Jesus Christ as the door through which we enter and dwell.
Jesus, having Him, knowing Him, receiving the forgiveness that He made happen through his death and resurrection, having our consciences washed clean and made light again through His blood, being adopted as sons and daughters, entering into a new way of living here on earth through our relationship with him, so we can be changed to be more and more like him every day, in our thinking, our actions, our words, in the use of the gifts He has placed in us.
Jesus, operating in our lives, guiding us through all the circumstances, piloting desires and longings of our lives, comforting us in our pain, pulling us back onto a holy path in spite of all our wanderings, keeping us safe through all danger, and finally, bringing us home to Heaven in our passing from this life to eternal life. All of this Jesus is to us and does for us. All of this makes Jesus infinitely precious.
So if you have Christ, you can say about the Bible passages through which Jesus speaks to us, “They are more precious to us than gold,” Psalm 19 and verse 10.
And we can say to Jesus, “Who do I have in heaven but You? There is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. Lord Jesus, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. You are MY treasure. You are MY pearl of great price, more valuable, hands down, to me, than anything or anyone else.”
Bottom line, God longs to be our Number 1. Is he yours? Is he mine?
What is your ultimate treasure? What is Jesus Christ to you? Does Jesus fill up all of your heart, or is He to us an incidental, like a coin relegated to our back pocket. Pull it out now and then, look at it when we get in trouble or when it’s convenient, then put it back in the pocket, while the big focus of our attention and affection lies elsewhere. In a world dominated by self-centered living, it is natural that we should gravitate toward that. And it is scary easy for the blessings of God to become more important to us than God – the gifts more important than the giver. In a world that glitters with things and situations and affections that pull us in like a magnet, these can easily fill our hearts and drive us as the very center of our lives.
The truth is we have a lot of “treasures” in our lives. And yet, deep inside, what we long for and what we will ultimately find satisfying is a life of meaning and distinct purpose, a centered, focused life. That’s what the man in the field and the merchant found for sure, and that’s what we can find in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Embracing the Kingdom of Heaven as their singular treasure gave the man in the field, and the merchant the only thing they needed, and all they needed at the same time.
God longs to be everything to you, to go into all the places of your life and make them whole and wondrous. God longs to pilot your decisions, to fill the crevices of brokenness in your life, to be your heavenly manna.
But if you ask God to take center stage, what will happen to you? Well, plenty. Prepare for your solar system to get rearranged. The action items on the to-do list to change. With a laser beam focus, the critical path of life to take off in another direction. The details of everyday life to take on fresh meaning. Intentions and desires to get sifted and shifted. Some things we may have embraced in the past, we will turn away from. Some things on the fringe of our lives may become more important. Some habits or ways of going about life will get discarded, new ways of doing life will take their place. We will see ourselves and each other through a different lens.
If we decide to embrace God as THE treasure of our lives over all else, we will ask new and different questions, and God will lead us on a grand adventure we cannot begin to anticipate or imagine. It’s big and radical. Picture your life as a plot of ground – new flowers are planted, old ones removed or planted in different places. We will become a new garden, weeded out, pruned, cultivated and flourishing.
Isn’t it wonderful, that the ultimate treasure, the kingdom of Heaven is in actually in our midst today. As with the man in the field and merchant, we stand at the crossroads of decision – hold on to what we have as the center of our lives, or let go of it to embrace ultimate treasure. We get to choose. Here WE are in the field with the treasure.
Here WE are, holding the pearl up to the light, where we can delightfully discover the value of what is laid before us. The same God that brought forth the life-changing moment centuries ago to two men described in our scripture reading is actually holding before us the same life-changing moment here and now, in this sanctuary, at Wapping Community Church.
God invites each of us to embrace the ultimate treasure today in a way that perhaps we never have before. Or maybe for some of us, we have an opportunity to embrace the Pearl of Great price for the very first time in our lives. Realize, you, personally can have it, and take action now to make the Kingdom of Heaven – the very heartbeat that makes all the other parts of your life flow.
Refreshingly we can be free from the prison of living for ourselves, and where that takes us. Everywhere we go, everything we do, and every way we go about the details of our lives, we are about God’s business when God operates as the center of our lives. We live in the full flow of holy purpose and sacred meaning. Then wherever we are, whoever we are with, whatever comes up during our day, we are Christ’s ministers through and through.
With the kingdom of Heaven as our center, life is new and fresh in a way that makes life without that center pale in comparison. It’s the difference between living in black in white or in vibrant HD color.
Will you make Christ, life giver and life changer, your Everything today? Ask and you will receive. Ultimate Treasure, Ultimate Delight. Now, and Forever. Amen.