Friday, January 20, 2017

seek first the kingdom

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; that which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly 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

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

-Matthew 6:33

I've been reading in Matthew the last couple of mornings, and haven't really been able to get past this passage right here. There's something about it that (though it's a simple two verses) is captivating, demanding, and exhilarating. I've been thinking a lot about Jesus lately. What's He's done for me, for you, for us. He gave His life for mine. But even more than that, I've been thinking about how I respond. How should one respond to the Gospel? I know for many of us we take it in stride and add it to our list of things we know, or put it on the shelf of great historical events. But the more I've been seeing Jesus – really seeing Him, digging into His Word and walking with Him throughout the day, the more I'm realizing that there is only one of two options that one can choose in response to the Gospel. It's take it or leave it.  A person can hear of what God has done for them and leave it, wether they 'believe' it or not. A person can hear of what God has done for them, see Jesus for who He is, and surrender everything. But there's no half-surrender. If there is, it doesn't matter. Jesus says he would rather have us be hot or cold (Rev 3:15).

I've been thinking about the parable Jesus gives us about the Kingdom in Matthew 13. At first glance it seems like a beautiful picture of two men finding these great treasures and giving everything for it, and they lived happily ever after with no consequences of their actions. As I've been looking at these parades, it's begun to hit me just how seriously they took this treasure. Think about it. The man in the field found a treasure that no one else knew about. Imagine him, excited, running home and beginning to gather everything together to sell it off. Who would've thought he was crazy? He most likely lost his good reputation with his family, his friends, the business world. After all, he just risked it all after a field...but what did he gain? The greatest treasure there was. He was willing to lose it all because he saw the worth of what he had found.

The merchant man found the greatest pearl he had ever beheld. What did he do? After recognizing its worth, he gave up everything he had for it. He didn't give half of what he had, he realized that in order to truly possess this treasure he had to pay full price for it. So what if those around him didn't recognize the value of the pearl? Would that be enough to dissuade him from forsaking everything for this treasure? No, because the opinion of those who didn't know could not dissuade him. He had seen that which cost everything and was willing to give it all in order to obtain it. 

 There was no question about the price of the prize for either of these men. They saw something that they knew would cost them all they had, but they were willing to lay down everything. Why? They knew the worth and value of that which they wished to obtain. This parable is compared to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is where the words of my Jesus hit me: if I want to follow Jesus I have to give everything. But before that, I must see Him for who He is. It begs the question, and it's one I've been asking myself this past week. What is Jesus worth to me? Whatever I see Him as will determine the extent of my surrender. I cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13). I cannot follow Jesus without forsaking everything (Luke 14:33). I must pour out my most prized and precious possessions out in order to receive Him (Mark 14:3). This is a no-compromise, serve-one, sacrifice everything Gospel. But its not for the sake of giving stuff up. No, this is in order to receive the GREATEST treasure we could ever have! 

This is a challenge to my soul this morning, but I think I'm going to take it. I'm called to seek first the Kingdom of God, and I can't do that unless I really see who Jesus is. He's everything to me. What is Jesus worth to me? What am I going to give to seek Him first?

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
[Matthew 6:33]