Spending eternity with God is so much greater than anything else we can experience that we shouldn’t worry about missing out in this life. This can empower change in our lives as we challenge ourselves on what we are clinging to in this broken world.
This article aims to hit on various and broad implications and challenges from Jesus’ parable about the hidden treasure (Matthew 13 verse 44). If something stands out to you, dear reader, chances are that you should go beyond the short coverage of the topic here and delve deeper into understanding what you have taken to be significant.Anything for the Kingdom?
The parable of the Hidden Treasure is very short. Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (NIV trans.) The farmer in the parable is overjoyed even after selling all that he has because the treasure is so great.
I think it is safe to say that God’s kingdom is so exceedingly great that anything we might have to part with to live with God forever would be worth it.A dangerous question
It is tempting to start with this question: What are the things you value most, would you still be happy to follow God if you knew you would have to lose these in the process?
However, many answers to this question are going to feel strange; most things you are likely to have considered are not things God would demand we sacrifice. Jesus says, “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11 v. 28, NIV trans.) So much of what we care about in life are good things given by God for us to enjoy.
God’s generosity extends to us in this broken world. As such, many of these things are cause for celebration of God’s character, rather than elements to give up for the Kingdom. Instead, I think our main candidates for things we ought to part with are matters of Christian ethics.Christian ethics
Christian ethics is often considered to be about trying to live consistently with our new identity as people who have the Holy Spirit living in us. Christians are in a complex state: being bound to Jesus and his righteousness while also struggling with sinfulness.
In this context, while we ought to know that we will stumble we also ought to strive to be holy and upright, respecting God’s generosity in living in us.A better question
A better question then seems to be this: What are your most cherished vices? The things you know are bad that you find hard to put away. This is a strong candidate for what you should be trying to ‘trade in’; something that you can lose to live more in line with your identity as a follower of Jesus.
However, I would also suggest re-reading relevant sections of the bible and considering if you have understood what you think your vice might be. Is the thing you’ve found just a symptom of something else, and if so, how can you approach the problem?
Additionally, is what you have thought of actually a problem, have you understood it incorrectly and made a sin in your own mind?
For an example of the latter, I am sure there are people in the Church today who formed a view about sex which was a problem for them when they became married. There are also those who take consumption or creation of alcohol to be sinful despite Scripture (see for instance, Psalm 104 v. 15; Matthew 26 v. 26).Problems in Ideals
Some appropriate things to try to remove from our lives will be obvious to us, but some will be harder to detect, especially given limitations to self-awareness.
Maybe living consistently in God’s Kingdom will mean you have to give up your world view. Is there an ideal you are holding which conflicts with following God?
Patriotism could blind you to the needs of the Church elsewhere and national values can crowd out Christian values. Overzealous judgement can lead us to not recognise that God’s salvation through Jesus can reach anyone and everyone (potentially meaning we don’t recognise fellow Christians, or don’t warn those we see as ‘too far gone’ in sin).
Hopes of Utopian futures on earth almost always steer away from keeping God’s kingdom in focus.
I know of cases where people have decided not to attend online church gatherings because their children are already having screen time with school. Have they put education above their Christian identity? Have they placed views about screens above views about Church? I suspect that some of them have.Satisfaction is in God
Whatever we might be trying to change in our lives to live more in line with our identity as Christians, we will not have missed out on anything of comparable worth with the greatness of God’s kingdom. Allay the fears of missing out. There doesn’t need to be anything on our ‘bucket list’.
There are no pleasures we must sample nor any tasks we must complete. Turning to Jesus as our Lord and saviour is enough. Satisfaction of our whole identity is in living with God in his kingdom. We will not find ourselves to be lacking in eternity because we missed out on some kind of experience in life on earth.
So ask God to help you keep things in perspective, to cast off sin as well as the cares and worries of this world that hinder you from following God.
Alexander Gillespie is an Arts Honours graduate of the University of Sydney. Particular fields of interest include Nineteenth-Century migration history, conceptual philosophy, social policy and ecclesiology. He currently lives in Sydney with his wife and enjoys researching and writing.