Monday, 5 September 2016

Kingdom Investment

On Sunday I had the chance to speak at WatersEdge@Cafe, which is a short church service for a new community of faith out at Googong. I wrote this talk out word for word (see below) but that afternoon I was encouraged to deliver this talk without notes. I did type out an outline, but even then I didn't use any notes. This meant I had good eye contact, but I did kinda flounder in some parts. My wording was as exact as I would have liked and some nuances was missed. But it was a good exercise. Anyway, below is the original transcript, of what I intended to say (and generally said).

Matthew 13:44-46
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.[1]

The Preamble

We are looking at stories Jesus told. In our passage this afternoon we have two stories that Jesus told and they pretty much have the same point. Let’s look at these two short parables and then let’s try and get to the point.

The Parables

In the first parable we have some guy who finds some buried treasure. We aren’t told what he was doing in the field, but it sounds like he kinda just stumbled upon it. This scenario may not have been that far fetched. Back then, they didn’t have a great banking system, and if an army was coming your way, people would bury their riches to avoid plunder[2]. The Jews even had a finder’s keepers rule, but if this man was a hired help, his boss may have had some claim over the find[3]. Anyway, in the story to avoid any ownership disputes the man buys the field[4].

Here we see the man making an enormously costly decision because he thought it was going to pay off. He even had joy selling off all his assets. People might have thought he was strange putting all his money in this one field, but he has a plan, even if it looked strange or silly. He saw it as a good investment, or good business sense to sell everything he had to get the land to get the hidden treasure.

The next parable is about a merchant who is looking for pearls. This probably means he knows what to look for in a pearl, things like its colour, shine, shape and size.[5] Then one day, this merchant of pearls finds the big one. He finds one that he knows will bring in a motza. Like the guy in the first story, this merchant goes and sells everything he has to get this one pearl.

The Point

These two parables have the same main point. They are both about the kingdom of heaven and its value. Like the guys in these parables we should take decisive action while there is opportunity and we should know that no cost is too great to be in this kingdom[6]. We should be willing to give up everything to gain this kingdom for it has the highest value of all[7]. Now that is a pretty big investment claim.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty conservative with my money or risks in general. I want assurance than anything I invest in is worthwhile and that I will get a good return. Not only that, but from what little I know about investing, the general rule is that your meant to diversify your investments. This is the safe way, so if something goes south, you haven’t lost everything. However here Jesus is saying we should put all our eggs in one basket. This sounds risky.

Is the kingdom of heaven worth risking everything? Let’s look at the cost and the gain.

So what is the cost?

Now in the parables both guys sold everything they had. This sounds like the price for the kingdom has quite a high cost. At the end of the story they had given up everything except their prize. Now I don’t think it is saying you can buy your way into the kingdom, in fact other parts of the Bible say you can’t[8]. The parable is using imagery for the kingdom as buried treasure and as a pearl, so likewise its using imagery for how to purchase it. However, there is still a cost involved.

To be part of the kingdom of heaven, is to put yourself under the king of this kingdom and that king is Jesus. To be in the kingdom is to be obedient to Jesus and to trust Jesus over your life and salvation. This means we have to put off our own desires and submit to Jesus. This can be a pretty high cost. This doesn’t mean you have to go to church twice on Sundays, be always happy and think that everything is “okely dokely”[9]. But it does mean you now have to treat everyone with love and respect, for everyone is made in the image of God. It does mean you need to fight against sin, even if it feels good, because ultimately it leads to destruction. It does mean you may hold options contrary to society and you will be mocked for holding quaint ideas. It means your money and your time is now considered to be gift from God and to be used not necessarily for yourself, but also for God.

So there is a cost. I’m not going to sugar coat it. You lose your autonomy and instead listen and submit to King Jesus for guidance in your life. And also you may be considered strange or weird and may endure hardship because of this.

But what is there to gain?

Let’s look again at the king of the kingdom: Jesus.

While Jesus is the king of the kingdom of heaven, he also was a man and from the royal line of David. He in a sense was royalty; but that sounds better than it was. Jesus’ family weren’t that well off and when Jesus started his ministry he wandered around, had no place to rest his head[10] and was beaten and killed as a common criminal. Jesus put up with all this because he also came to make a transaction. He took on all our sin and bore our punishment in exchange for us to have His innocence[11]. Jesus made a transaction entirely in our favor where He got the rough end of the stick. However, He saw that it was worth it, because He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever.

Now after Jesus was killed He rose again. This means that since He has conquered death, He cannot be killed again. He beat death. He killed it, and because of that, Jesus cannot die and so His kingdom will last forever.

In the kingdom of heaven, we have forgiveness of sin and we can be with God forever.

So here is the heavenly investment.

In the short term there could be discomfort and decisions we make may look silly to others, but in the end, there is ever lasting life with no guilt or fear or pain. All other investments in this world end in this world. Only this heavenly investment, here on earth carries on into the new heaven and new earth.

Now I did skip over a little bit when I was talking about the cost. In the first story we are told “in his joy he goes and sells everything he has”. The man gave up everything joyfully because the gain is so much. Likewise, everything in comparison to the kingdom of heaven isn’t worth it. Even the thing about submitting to Jesus and giving up our autonomy really isn’t a lost, because in doing that, we are living how we were originally created to live. We get reset back to the system defaults without any corruption or bugs.

Let me end on an analogy that I have stolen from a guy called Francis Chan. This hopefully will give you an idea on the extent of this heavenly investment Jesus is calling on us to make.

<This is a visual demonstration, I really did have a rope with a red tip. I will link to the youTube clip below. I didn't mention Paul and running the race, I tried to shape it just on investment and gain. I said things like:

- You have a few short years on earth and then eternity somewhere else.

- Some of us are consumed with this little red bit. It’s all we think about.

- What about this bit? (non-red bit) What about here? Because Jesus teaches that what we do in this red bit affects how we spend eternity, for millions of years forever.

- Why would we worry about this little red bit and trying to make ourselves as comfortable as possible here?

- On this time line, all other investments seem pretty dumb. We only get this red bit once. Some people don’t think past it, and those same people may even call us dumb. But in light of all this rope, I think it is really the other way around.>

Jesus is saying in these parables that he is worth everything. The cost may seem high, but the gain is worth so much more.

[1] The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (359). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] I had no idea pearls came in different colours, or there were so many things you should look for in a pearl:

[6] Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (360). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[7] Paschall, F. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (1972). The teacher's Bible commentary: A concise, thorough interpretation of the entire Bible designed especially for Sunday School teachers (602). Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.

[8] Isaiah 55:1, Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 9: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. New Testament Commentary (577). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[9] Of cause I have Ned Flanders in mind here

[10] Luke 9:58

[11] I tried to get the sense of 1 Peter 3:18


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