“”Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46, NKJV.
From Joy Over It
If we are to take these two little parables from Jesus seriously, the kingdom of heaven is not really about morals and virtue. The kingdom of heaven is all about raw greedy genuine desire. There are two parables here, both about someone finding something they really badly want, who go to extremes to obtain it. While at first glance the two stories are similar, in fact they are very different, like two bookends, or a left and a right hand. The first is from the human perspective, the second is from the divine perspective.
In the first, we have a man, someone walking through a field he does not own. One might say, he is trespassing. He is poking around a bit. Unexpectedly, he finds a treasure hidden in the field. No one else knows about the treasure, no one else sees it. Everyone else looks at this field and says, “what a worthless scrubby rocky piece of land!’ It is such a bad parcel that the owner doesn’t even know there is a treasure in there somewhere. However, our man, by sheer accident, has found it. It is invaluable treasure, the fortune of a lifetime. He is THRILLED! Note, that he maybe should have gone and told the owner, but that isn’t what he does, because he is greedy for it. He WANTS the treasure badly, he really wants it.
And here is the key: ‘from JOY over it’ he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field, the whole field, which no one else wants. He sells everything, sacrifices everything, from joy. His joy leads to sacrifice because he has perceived value hidden in that field that no one else can see.
And so, non-believers look at our field, and don’t see the treasure. All they can see are the weird right-wing churchy people, the buzz-kill stop-the-party attitudes, dressing up early on Sunday, fake weird talking, guilt-inducing sermons, the whole rottenness of churchianical culture. And They Don’t WANT It!!! Of course they don’t want it! He didn’t buy the field for the field, and the field is nothing like what it looks like from afar anyway; he bought it for the TREASURE, which others can’t see. There is treasure, sweet treasure, greed-worthy treasure, in some of those hated right-wing churchy people. Notice that the whole field isn’t treasure, there is a lot of scrub and rock and bluff. A lot of stuff in the field is just churchianical bilge, but there is treasure in there, there is God in that field. What kind of God?
I’m God’s Pearl!
The next parable gives us the absolutely shocking nature of this treasure. Notice in the first parable, if you read it carefully, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure. In the second, the kingdom is NOT like a pearl, it is like the merchant who seeks. In the first, we have some bumbling fool who trespasses and stumbles over a treasure quite by accident. But here we have a merchant who is an expert, and who is always searching, searching his whole life, for this great pearl. He knows pearls, he is an expert, he knows what he is looking for. This person IS the kingdom of God. In other words, God is the merchant, and we are the pearl. This is the intent of the message: we are a rare and sought after treasure in the eyes of God. He really really likes us; he wants us; he perceives enormous beauty and wealth in us.
This is the definition of grace: God, by His own initiative, likes us. In fact, he is extremely taken with us, to the point of sacrificing all else to have us. We are not battling an attitude in God in which He is constantly ready to condemn us and reject us and which is always mindful of our flaws and shortcomings. He is excited about us. We are very greatly loved, even as we presently stand. God has joy over finding us!
In both parables, we have sacrifice, deep sacrifice. However, it is not a grudging martyr-syndrome long-faced obligation. It is a sacrifice born of real desire, of intense greed. These are people who see what they want very very clearly, who could care less what others think, they see something that no other sees. And they go for it. They do whatever it takes, they sell everything, to get the thing they want. Apparently the kingdom of God has far less to do with being tricked into being bleached colorless and being inoffensively moral and good, and far more to do with wreckless passion for treasures. And these are secret passions, hidden treasures, perfections and beauties which only they see.
The Cosmic Romance
And so the kingdom of God is like an intense cosmic romance, a coming together of the two genuine desires with a sacrifice born of utter disregard for everything else in the world. God doesn’t forgive because it is His job; He forgives because he so greatly loves, and sacrifices all else. The secret ‘force’ or intelligence that has caused the universe to spring into existence, and who has caused life in all its complexity and mystery and ferocity and wonder, has been searching the universe, and He found ME. I am His pearl, I am the one He loves. I am important, far more important in His eyes than I would have believed myself.
I am walking today, you are walking today if you have seen your treasure, as one who is greatly loved by the God who is real. In His eyes, according to this, you are a pearl worth sacrificing all else for. To God, you are worth dying for. God sees something in you that no one else sees, and He is the only expert whose opinion matters. Forget trying to be good. Worry about real desire, and walk in the joy of being the one who is very greatly loved. This is the soil, this is the seed, that bears all other fruit.