It’s funny what a glimpse of something’s worth can do. We were about thirty miles out of the city, at a monastery perched among the jagged, serrated edges of a Catalonian mountain, when we first saw the entrance to the gallery. It was a matter of simple deduction – there were plenty of free things to do and see, mountain walks, the basilica, the hermitages – there was no need to spend €10 of each of our travel budgets going into what could surely only be a small parochial gallery? And so we did all those other things until, on our way to get the rack railway back down the mountain, I caught a glimpse of a name in the window of the gallery.
Suddenly my perspective was completely changed. I explained to my friend that I couldn’t possibly go down the mountain without going into the gallery. It didn’t matter that it cost money and the train was leaving soon, it simply had to be done. Without further ado I went into the gallery and paid the entrance fee happily, would have paid more if asked, to spend a few minutes staring at a painting by Caravaggio. I didn’t see the rest of the gallery, but I left feeling elated. The contents of the museum didn’t change. My perception of its value did.
“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.
– Matthew 13:44 (ESV)
Now my example only cost me €10, but the principle stands that our investment into something is based on our perception of it’s value. While I thought the gallery was just another little art gallery I had no intention of paying to see it, but as soon as I realised that something of great value to me was inside? I would have emptied my wallet just to be there. It’s the same with the guy in the story Jesus tells in Matthew 13:44; when he finds treasure he will do anything to get to it.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. It’s a pearl of great price. It’s a Caravaggio in a random gallery far from Rome or Florence. It’s the thing that makes you suck in your breath and say, “that, I will go all in to get that“. Until we catch a glimpse of something’s true value we will never be anything more than passive consumers. Take it or leave it Christians.
Until we catch a glimpse of something’s true value we will never be anything more than passive consumers. Take it or leave it Christians.
The people in the parables Jesus told about this, whether about the field or the pearl, were people who chose to go all in. They were people who decided they would do what it takes because they’d glimpsed the worth of something. What value or worth are we putting on the gospel? Is the Kingdom of Heaven enough to motivate us to surrender our time, our resource, our emotions, our all, for a cause of infinite worth?
Sometimes we need to remember what brought us this far and what our first glimpses were of Christ. Sometimes we need to remember the time when all seemed to be lost and there He was, in the thick of the flames, bailing us out. Sometimes we just need to lose ourself in the gospels and glimpse the beauty of His acts. We need to remember that He is the pearl of great price. What value do we put on Him? 10% of our income? 10% plus gift aid? A few acts of generosity dotted throughout the year? Serving in church? Or a lifestyle that screams that we are all in.
If I may propose something else the Kingdom of Heaven is like? The Kingdom of Heaven is like the final verse of the hokey cokey, it’s all about putting your whole self in.