Author | Steve
MasterCard has brilliantly invited millions of us to spend much more than we have in order to get it. To get what? To get the thing, the experience, the relational mountain-top experience, the once-in-a-lifetime event that you can’t measure in dollars.
For what would you pull out the credit card and max it out because what you want is priceless?
When we sold our house a little over a year ago, we were blessed to sell it for quite a bit more than we bought it just two years before. Contemporary wisdom says to save that profit or to invest it back into a new home. Instead, against every Dave-Ramsey-formed brain cell in my body, we invested it in a year of seeking God’s kingdom first, and each other second. Somehow, I had allowed these two priceless things to take a backseat to work – even if it was work in the name of God.
While I knew Jesus was inviting us to spend everything we had and more to receive from His gracious hand out of His abundant storehouse, I was skeptical. I was alternately expectant and totally freaked out! That’s a hefty price tag! (Now I’m not saying you can buy what Jesus has to offer, or that He requires you to do so to receive His free gift of salvation. Not at all! This is more about trust, than it is a purchase. This is more about an exchange of something small that we have assigned great value, for something infinitely good that we have assigned lesser value.)
This is more about an exchange of something small that we have assigned great value, for something infinitely good that we have assigned lesser value.
Jesus often taught in parables – a story from common life that would simultaneously reveal, and keep hidden, a deep truth, depending on if you had ears to hear or not. His two shortest parables He shared back to back:
“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 (NIV)
The kingdom of heaven is priceless. The parable is not about how you can purchase the kingdom of heaven; its more about the priority of the kingdom. Nothing is more important! Not a job. Not a political party. Not a comfort. Not a position. Not a person. Not all the money in the world.
How much of our lives do we live as if something else is more valuable? Honestly? For me, a lot!
Jesus invites us to not worry about even our daily needs, but instead to seek first His kingdom and righteousness, trusting Him to add these needful things to our lives (Matthew 6:31-33).
We, the Wiechman family, are by no means more spiritual for having this experience (check out “Our Original Announcement”) this past year! It took a pit of despair and an act of God to move us here – and to keep us here! As it always does. He is the one who has given us ears to hear and eyes to see. But maybe, through our story and testimony, He will invite you to experience the priceless journey of living in His kingdom now, trusting Him above whatever else you are tempted to put before Him.
The parable is not about how you can purchase the kingdom of heaven; its more about the priority of the kingdom. Nothing is more important!
Possibilities & Impossibilities
In America, and the West in general, finances are often a hindrance to seeking God’s kingdom first. Even in His day, Jesus said:
“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:23-26 (NIV)
What’s impossible for man? Answer: to enter the kingdom of God. What’s possible for God? Answer: bringing anyone into His kingdom He wants, even people rich in things that blind them to Him.
The Western Church: Whose Kingdom?
I’ve wondered for a while now what would happen to churches in America if suddenly we were not some of the wealthiest people in the world. What if our offerings and our buildings and our paid workers all went away? What if our padded seats, our big screens, our designer coffee, our perfectly conditioned air and our automatic toilets, sinks and hand-dryers all went the way of the dodo? What would we look like then? How would we live? Would we even know how to keep meeting? (Honestly, this could be a whole other blog post)
But I’m not writing this to condemn wealth. Wealth is not sinful. I’m writing this because I believe we have not sold everything to buy the field with the treasure in it. Instead, we have held on to what we can produce of our own strength and ingenuity and at the same time we languish in spiritual poverty wondering why we feel so dry and empty.
I’m writing this because I believe we [the Western Church] have not sold everything to buy the field with the treasure in it.
Jesus invites us to pursue a Kingdom that pursues us, rather than devour a kingdom that devours us. This is so upside-down for us Westerners who have enjoyed generations of wealth produced, we think, by our own hard work. We have forgotten the warning of Moses to the children of Israel as they were about to inherit the promised land (read Deuteronomy chapter 8), where Moses writes:
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (NIV)
If we put the gifts ahead of the Giver, we end up losing both. It hearkens back to the first commandment: You shall have no other Gods. This is a command meant to bless, as are all of God’s commands. It’s when the one true God is our God that we are most blessed. When we choose our own god, we are cursed.
It’s amazing to me how many Christians virtually hold up the American dream as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Try speaking any of Jesus’ words about wealth from the gospels and you will quickly feel the heat of this topic. However, in our pursuit of the dream we have often mortgaged our own spiritual growth and lasting gifts for the next generation, all for comfort now – and then we call it ‘wise stewardship.’ Wise stewardship aside, a lot of Christians will not be able to see His kingdom when their kingdom of money collapses and the lights in their church are turned out.
Jesus invites us to pursue a Kingdom that pursues us, rather than devour a kingdom that devours us.
What God Values
The amazing twist in this whole plot is that the King of the Kingdom of Heaven sold it all to buy you! You are worth the shedding of His own blood, to be bought at the highest price imaginable – not with all the silver and gold in the world – but with the holy, precious blood of Jesus.
The amazing twist in this whole plot is that the King of the Kingdom of Heaven sold it all to buy you!
When you realize what God has paid for you, it is beyond humbling. It changes your relationship to the material blessings He gives. They are no longer the goal of life, but rather gracious blessings to be enjoyed, to be shared, to be used to both bless others and to pursue Him and His kingdom.
If we, in the Western Church, lived in this knowledge with all the material blessings afforded us by our God who spared no expense in saving us, oh my! What miracles we would see! What amazing transformation we would witness in the lives of people! What real life stories of lavish generosity we would have the honor of participating in!
The God of the universe has found you again today and purchased you at the highest cost! You are His, without a doubt! You are priceless to Him! Believe this above anything else. Believe it above whatever physical and material gifts He has given you. Pursue this Kingdom that pursues you. It’s worth everything you’ve got!