In Matthew 13:44-46 Jesus shares twin word pictures to describe the value of the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven). We might call these particular parables “value images” as Jesus tells us that living “a kingdom of God way of life” is like a tenet farmer finding a treasure hidden in a field, or a merchant discovering a pearl of great price. In each situation the finder of these objects is so overtaken by them that he sells all he owns in order to have them. It’s this “all in” behavior that gives me pause with the parables, causing me to ask, “What do we so value in life that makes us willing to cash in everything else?”
I’ve watched families make financial sacrifices for the health of a loved one whom they value. Bank accounts and retirement funds have been emptied because of the value placed on keeping up appearances. In the television series Breaking Bad a man turns to crime in order to pay his bills and provide for the family he values. Every week in most households schedules, priorities and calendars get tweaked to free up the resource of time spent on what we value.
When we ascribe value to something in our life, we often change or align behaviors and make decisions in order to keep or hold that object of value to whatever level of status we have given it. If you value health and fitness you will make time for exercise and direct income toward a healthier grocery list. That which we value determines much.
So what is Jesus suggesting with his word pictures about “kingdom living” on value? Most of us would be quick to agree that what God hopes for our lives has value. Or even that we value God and God’s kingdom (however we might understand that). But what about that “all in” part of the parable? Do we value the way of life God wants for us enough to go “all in” with it? Has a “kingdom of God way of living” overtaken our life to the extent that they are one and the same? What do you think Jesus is saying by using this value images?
This will be my preaching topic on Sunday, September 4th as we explore several kingdom images during September at First Baptist Church of Columbus – beginning this week with “value images”.