Over the last few years, the parables of Jesus, along with the Sermon on the Mount, have been the source of most of my pondering in the Scriptures. The parable of the yeast and the dough and the parable of the treasure in the field are two that have grabbed my attention most frequently. Here is one of them:
Matthew 13:44, “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.
The Kingdom of God can be found in a variety of ways. I heard it said recently on a podcast that there is one way of salvation, who is Jesus, but there are many stories of salvation. Very true. Salvation and living out salvation is not manufactured but received and lived. The Gospel is lived. In this parable told by Jesus the man who found the treasure realized that it was actually a treasure. A very valuable treasure. The Kingdom of God, which entrance into it is salvation, and living in it is abundant life (which is living in the details of life the way we are meant to as humans versus the ways of a fallen world), is the greatest treasure to be found. The problem is we do not see it as such. Maybe because it has become cliché to us. Maybe because man has made it, in a multitude of ways, what it should not be. But, imagine finding a treasure. A treasure of extreme value. You maybe have stumbled upon it, you may have been led to it by another, or maybe you had been diligently seeking it. When you find it, maybe you are surprised. Maybe you have a feeling of ‘too good to be true’. Maybe you have a sense of wonder. Maybe you have a sense of awe. It would grab your attention. It would grab your curiosity. All of these things are good. All of them are needed in your approach to the Kingdom. Don’t ever become jaded in any way that you lose these things. Without taking time for much explanation, think about this: Do not make this treasure, the Kingdom, flat. Don’t formulize it. Don’t try to make it entirely explainable. Let it’s depth cause a earnest seeking in you.
The treasure you have found is now is of great value to you because it is actually very valuable. It’s value strikes you in such a way that it causes joy, joy because you have it. I’m reminded consistently that the Kingdom of God at its base level is a celebration. A celebration of humanity being made right again. It’s a kingdom that’s work is the redemption of man. It’s a kingdom not of this world having a place in this world and, in that, remaking the world. Kierkegaard wrote “This is the paradox of Christianity- namely, that a Kingdom which is not of this world still wants to have a visible place, yet without becoming a Kingdom of this world. This is why Christian collisions are produced.” It’s a kingdom within us, not a geographical kingdom (Though we can sanctify time and space). Rather, the Kingdom swirls in us and around us no matter the context of our current moment. In this fallen world, the joy of the Kingdom transcends what is happening in this world. Joy is a mark of one who has the Kingdom of heaven within them. Joy is the overflow of a life that has been made right, set free from sin, and has the ability to live the abundance of that freedom from sin.
It was the realization of the value of the treasure and the joy that followed that caused the man to sell everything he had in order to have it. There was a definite, purposed reaction to the treasure. The reaction was the willingness to give up everything for it. This is life in the Kingdom. You want to gain life? You have to lose yours (Matthew 16:25). This may be one aspect of what Kierkegaard said of the Kingdom causing ‘Christian collisions’. Collisions within you between fallenness and the Kingdom. This is not just a belief in Jesus, but a living of the way he points to as abundant life. This is where the struggle of a fallen person and the living out of being made new will be found. But the value of the treasure and the joy of finding it will keep you moving in this process. It’s not about becoming perfect in a legalistic way. It’s about discovering and living true life. In this, the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, is lived. Living abundant life is still not agreeable to the ways of a fallen world. Here may be another aspect of Kierkegaard’s wording ‘Christian collisions’. Losing your life is the willingness to live abundant life no matter how disagreeable it is to the fallen world around you. And, as the martyrs show, even if it means losing your physical life. Purposely losing your life in the way you live and standing unashamed even to the extreme of losing your life physically is a confirmation that you believe and agree, with all of your being, with what the Kingdom is now (salvation, transformation to abundant life, light to a fallen world) and what the Kingdom will be (Christ’s return, bodily resurrection, all things made new). The Kingdom of God as it is now points to the Kingdom of God that is to come. This is the whole of the treasure. This is the whole of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.