Print Version July 27th, 2005
To be honest, after a week or more of Matthew on the kingdom I still don’t know what or where or how it is. I’m sure I’ve learned something along the way with all those metaphors of sowing, planting, growing, reaping. From the people who nurture the crop or maliciously mess it up. From the weeds as much as from the wheat. But exactly where in all that is the kingdom?
The kingdom of heaven is like …, says Jesus. Like a mustard seed. Like the yeast a woman took. Like a man sowing seed. But how is the kingdom like any of that?
Today I thought it was easier. I was fooled by Moses, all radiant from talking to God. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure. It’s like a lucky merchant. And I thought the key, was the joy of finding something your heart hasn’t even had the chance to long for, something so great and wonderful you’ll gladly make yourself destitute to have. Is that the kingdom of heaven? The dazzling delight of discovering your life’s desire hidden in plain sight there under your nose. Or is the kingdom the price you’ll gladly pay to have it—costing not less than everything, handed over unstintingly, heedless of caution and good sense?
You see, I wonder, is the kingdom like the treasure or like the one who finds it? Those two little parables work against each other. The one is a fine piece of unscrupulous, financial skulduggery: the cost is high but it’s a bargain really, a con, a swindle—and the calculated payoff immense. You can see the pound-signs in the guy’s eyes.
The merchant though … I wonder about him. He’s had the delight of discovery—that shimmering pearl of such value—but has he seen a chance for a fast buck or is he beguiled by beauty? Does he sell everything he owns just to have it, to gaze on it, to be part of it. I wonder if he sits there ecstatic, adoring, unable to believe his luck, in a house emptied of all his livelihood. Grinning in the dirt.
So are you any the wiser, deep as you are in retreat? Have you found the treasure? The finest pearl? Do you know the delight? Are you thoughtless of the cost or are you counting it? Will this bankrupt you or make your fortune?
The kingdom of heaven is like … us.