When I grow up, I want to invest in a piece of jewelry that will be (as it will have to be), my signature piece. Since I was young, I have loved pearls and wanted a strand of pearls from Mikimoto – which is the preeminent pearl designer in the world. They hand select each and every pearl on the strand and measure them for perfection. If you don’t know pearls, the price seems exhorbitant. Even if you know pearls, you may still experience sticker shock looking at something along the lines of what I would eventually like to posses.
I cannot hope to have that much ready money to buy these incredible pieces, but maybe someday, as an investment. Maybe then. I would have to sell everything I own in order to buy it. Jesus likened that very wish I have, to own something of such great and inexplicable value to me, to the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Matthew, Jesus tells this short parable: “Again, 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.” What this man gained in that one fine pearl was of more value than everything he sold to purchase it. That’s what the Kingdom of Heaven is like – it’s more valuable that what we give up to obtain it. We cannot afford the Kingdom of Heaven without “selling” things of lesser value.
Every week, at Messiah, at least, we recite the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…” That’s a few short chapters before the parable of the pearl in Matthew. This is the same kingdom, we’re talking about The Kingdom of Heaven… the author of the prayer, Jesus, says that we should pray that the Kingdom of Heaven “come” to earth as it is in Heaven. That means, we can discover that pearl of great value and buy it now, because we recognize its value, not in some distant future, but now.
That Kingdom doesn’t come cheaply. What will we have to exchange for something of so great a value? Our time? That’s precious. Our money? I am currently tithing plus offering some more- I don’t say that to brag, but because I’ve heard the sentiment that people cannot afford to tithe, and if my pathetic income is enough to tithe and give, anything is possible. I also believe in being faithful with little, so that I can be trusted with more. I give out of sacrifice – I know many people sacrifice for what they want, do you want the Pearl of Great Value, or no?
Do we have to exchange our comfort? Jesus said he didn’t come to bring peace (and I don’t think he meant he didn’t come to bring us peace with one another), but he seems to have come to accomplish what I’ve always heard is the journalistic motto: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Maybe it makes you uncomfortable to try new things, but there are ministries that need your help, there are efforts that need your time. Pearls are created through agitation, the sand or other irritant gets in and the mollusk creates the pearl by revolving layers of crystalline carbonite around the sand or parasite. Comfort free of irritation is not the way to create something of high value.
Let’s analyze the cost of the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s worth more than everything we have – why have we not traded up? What value do we place upon that Kingdom? It’s evidence lies in what we’re willing to exchange. I’m not willing to sell my possessions for that gorgeous Mikimoto strand — it’s not worth it to me – maybe the Kingdom isn’t worth the time, effort, money or comfort of others, because they are not aware of its value. How can we communicate that value?