Is there anything in life that is worth giving up everything to obtain? I mean, to actually sell everything you own in order to acquire this one thing. To leave you with nothing else except the thing you deemed so valuable. Can you think of a few things? In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 13, Jesus told two short parables which suggest that the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is such a thing.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
What makes something valuable?
Can a person immediately recognize something of great value when they stumble upon it? What makes something precious and valuable in life in the first place? Is it how much it cost in monetary terms? Is it it’s sentimental value, which is purely an emotional and personal thing? Is it in the way it can transform and revolutionize one’s life?
In the first parable, the individual sort of stumbles onto the hidden treasure by accident. He wasn’t actively looking for anything valuable. In the second parable however, the ‘merchant’ was on the lookout, in search of a pearl of great value.
Both parables illustrate finding something of great worth. Something extremely valuable is discovered, desired and purchased. In both parables, the person sells everything they have to buy this treasured possession.
The Kingdom of Heaven
What exactly is the Kingdom of Heaven? The Zondervan NIV Study Bible explains it in this way;
“the reign of God that he brings about through Jesus Christ, i.e. the establishment of God’s rule in the hearts and lives of his people, the overcoming of all forces of evil, the removal from the world of all consequences of sin, and the creation of a new order of righteousness and peace”.
There is a personal but also universal aspect to The Kingdom of God. God rules over all creation yet also rules in our hearts and lives. Jesus declares that this Kingdom is worth giving up everything to obtain.
Today, in the 21st century, if we were to introduce someone to the Kingdom of Heaven, what is it about the kingdom that would make the person see and recognize its value? What could we say or show to convince someone that there is nothing else worth more in life?
An Easy Life?
Is it the promise of a trouble free, uncomplicated, effortless existence? Surprisingly, the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t guarantee an easy or prosperous life. On the contrary, we can expect all sorts of challenges. Jesus warned that one must take up their cross to follow him.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross and follow me”.
Perhaps it is the promise of what lies in the future? The promise of eternal life and with no more sorrow or death.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Maybe that is what makes the Kingdom of Heaven so valuable and precious.
How Much Will it Cost?
What about the cost? How much are we willing to give up? The two people in the parables sold ‘everything they owned’ and one did it joyfully. Were they at peace after that? Was it a rash and reckless decision? Did they weigh all their options thoroughly before ‘crossing the Rubicon’? Did they live to regret their decision?
When one makes a big purchase, there is the tendency to wonder and worry if the right decision has been made, if resources were spent wisely, if one paid too much. Perhaps one should have waited for a better deal. After being a Christian for many years, are there times when we feel that the price was too great, the sacrifices made were not worth it?
Peace and Purpose?
Does the value of the Kingdom of Heaven lie in the emotional stability it brings? Knowing that our sins are forgiven, and we have the promise of eternal life. To be free from the guilt of whatever wrongs we have done in the past. Or does it lie in the transformation that it can bring, from living an aimless or decadent lifestyle to one of meaning and significance.
It Is The Truth!
I would like to suggest another reason why the kingdom of heaven is the most precious thing we can have in this life. Because it is the truth. It describes reality as it truly is. It makes claims and assertions about life that truly corresponds with our experience of the real world, and the challenges we face. These claims are evidentially true, can be verified, be put to the test, and examined for its reliability. They are not personal visions or pious wisdom statements of an individual which are difficult to validate evidentially. The truth claims of the kingdom are public claims, established on the basis of an event in history. Many people (including Christians) are not aware that there is so much evidence supporting the claims of Christianity.
In this age of fake news, bogus claims, counterfeit people, truth that is authentic and can be verified is a priceless commodity. The kingdom of heaven is such a treasure. One that is worth giving up everything to obtain.
© 2022 Ferdinand-J-K