Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly–I used to be really involved in the Scouting movement, at the same time I was involved in a religious denomination that wasn’t excessively Christian.
In about 1997, when I realized that this church’s direction did not match my beliefs, I headed for the door. A few months earlier, sitting on a denominational advisory committee for Scouting, I was nominated as the group’s chaplain at the upcoming Boy Scout National Jamboree. What could be cooler than going to a National Jamboree on the staff in a flexible and wide-ranging role?
Oddly, I didn’t hear anything from the Jamboree people through the fall of 1996 and into the first months of 1997. When they called me in the spring of 1997, I vaguely noted that my situation had changed, and I couldn’t fill this role.
As I got off the phone that day, I smiled. I hadn’t hesitated a moment in passing up an assignment that I had previously coveted. Yes, I had to abandon an intriguing opportunity for that summer, but it didn’t make me pause for a moment.
In the next of Jesus’ Matthew 13 parables of the kingdom, we discover a parallel to my experience:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.–Matthew 13:44
I had the treasure. As much as I still enjoyed Scouting, it didn’t bother me a bit to give up that opportunity in order to embrace that treasure. Twenty-two years later, I have never regretted my decision. I gain a couple of conclusions from this verse.
- The kingdom of God is incredibly valuable. It is not one among many things of value in our lives. It is valuable beyond compare.
- The kingdom of God is not something we buy or work for. This guy found the treasure, but he did not work for it. Even if he was plowing when he found it, he didn’t plow for it.
- The kingdom of God is worth every sacrifice that we make to secure it. The important fact in this parable is not that the man bought a field. It is that he obtained the treasure with the field as a necessary afterthought.
- The kingdom of God is something that, when found, should bring us joy. This man did not hesitate or do a cost-benefit analysis. Instead, he jumped joyfully into action.
But here’s the question that I’m left with as I read this verse. Is the kingdom still something that I would sacrifice the near and dear to enjoy or maintain? Do I feel the joy of my salvation like I did when I first received it. What about you? If not, maybe we need to refresh ourselves on Matthew 6:33 and the kingdom of God we’re seeking.