Jesus once said that 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, Jesus added, 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.
In the first scene, the picture is of a poor farmer who was in for a surprise. He was going about his regular duties, ploughing his field, when he stumbles on this treasure. In his unspeakable joy, he parts with everything that he has to buy that field because of the value of that treasure. In the second scenario, we have a sophisticated seeker. This merchant was looking for fine pearls. And when he found what he was looking for, he sold all he had and bought that priceless pearl.
The two stories remind me of incidents I have encountered. During a conversation with a skeptic, he shared that he once had an out-of-body experience and during those milliseconds, he heard the name Jesus (a name he had never heard before) calling him. In another encounter, a gentleman from another faith came over to discuss apologetics. He was a research scholar on humanities and had read some works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He was acquainted with the Bible as well. Although he was not a Christian, he said, “Society needs to be educated on the apologetic of Christ.” He eventually came all the way as he gave his life to Christ and is a joyful believer today.
God in his sovereign grace caters to each one of us. One discovers his treasure at the end of a studied search, while the other stumbles onto the joy of serendipitous discovery. Professor Alister McGrath explains: “In one sense, faith can be thought of as saying ‘Yes!’ to God and throwing open the portals of our souls to the refreshing, renewing and transforming presence of the living God.”(1)
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus inquiring about eternal life, Jesus asked him to give up everything he had and follow him. But the man walked away. The very next chapter is about another rich man, who like the characters in parables above, was willing to give away his hard-earned money—legitimately and otherwise—for something of far greater value. He announced, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”(2)
In the insightful words of C.S. Lewis, “When the author walks on to the stage the play is over… something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.”(3)
The judgments we make today are lasting. We reveal who we are by what we treasure. Let us treasure that of lasting value.
Neil Vimalkumar Boniface is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Chennai, India.
(1) Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God: The Search for Meaning in the Universe. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002.
(2) Luke 19:8.
(3) C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity pp. 64-5.