Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Investing in Pearls

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."
A merchant! The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. For whatever reason, I've always thought of the pearl shopper in this parable as a collector. I mean, I've known that it says "merchant," but when I've thought about it, I've always thought that this was just a guy who really likes pearls and wants to possess the best one he can get. But merchants don't generally buy things just for the sake of having them. A merchant buys and sells, accumulating capital as he goes, but the merchant in this parable sells all he owns in order to buy this single pearl.

The merchant is risking everything on this one pearl. That's what the kingdom of God is like.

I've got kind of an intuitive grip there, and I feel like I'm about to make a breakthrough. So I sit here trying to think it through.... Is Christ the merchant and we're the pearl that is his only capital in the world? Are we supposed to be the merchant and the kingdom of God is the pearl we need to give up everything to obtain?

Then I found the sweet spot. It's not a big picture. It's a template. I've seen that a few times already in the parables before this, but I'm a slow learner. This parable is a pattern of what life in the kingdom of God is like. It's meant to be repeated over and over.

"Love one another as I have loved you," Christ commands. He loved us completely, self-sacrificially, holding nothing back. And as we are a part of the kingdom of God, we will love others in this way. He calls us to give ourselves completely for others, risking everything, knowing that they are of great value.


LutheranChik said...

You know, we Lutherans tend to think of kenosis in totally negative terms -- humiliation, pain, suffering, etc. -- but there's also joy in kenosis...joyful abandonment to the will of God, no matter what the consequences. I'm thinking of people like Francis of Assisi, whose giving up of power and privilege and material things -- and, actually, he gave up EVERYTHING, even his clothes! -- is done with great happiness, even after having counted the cost. Does that make sense?

Andy said...

I think it does make sense. My pastor once said that every sin is the result of a lie that we believe. We couldn't make as broad a statement about suffering, but certainly a lot of suffering is the result of lies that we believe. The American economy is almost completely driven by people's desire to have more than they do, but the truth is that more often than not the path to happiness lies in letting go of even what we do have.