An acronym to help you remember what FAITH is goes like this: Fully Assured In The Hope. As followers of Jesus Christ, we live in full assurance of the hope that God will fulfill His promises. We confidently live in the present according to God’s future promises. Our present way of life should be a reflection of the future reality God has promised that we are waiting for.
The way we live our lives today should be a reflection of our belief in the future reality God has promised. Should. But is it?
Jesus taught this little parable: “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.” (Matt. 13:44)
Here’s this guy who somehow finds a treasure hidden in a field. When he finds this treasure, he responds in a very unique way. He hides it. Why? So no one else will find it until he has enough money to buy it for himself. This guy goes and sells everything he has to buy that field.
Can you imagine the ridicule he got from his friends and family? He couldn’t tell them about it, or they may have gotten to it first. How many times has someone you know put themselves into great financial jeopardy to make a risky investment? If you know someone, you probably know the feeling this man’s friends had. “What are you doing? Are you sure this is going to work out? Come on, think this through! You have to be out of your mind!”
But this man was undeterred. In his JOY, he went and sold all that he had to buy that field. Joy. He did this out of joy. He sold everything He had in joy. This guy would be seen as a world class moron in our time. Who does that? Who sells everything to buy a field?
The answer: Someone who knows that there is something far more valuable there than here. You make that kind of decision when you realize that what you stand to lose if you don’t make this move is far greater than what you’re gaining in the moment. When you have seen the treasure with your own eyes, you’re willing to give up everything to get it. Because whatever you lost to get it will be replaced tenfold.
This man was fully assured in the hope. He knew what buying this field would do for him and his family. And nothing was going to stop him.
Jesus began this parable and the one after it by saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Is this a true story? Maybe, maybe not. But, the point of the story remains. The kingdom of heaven is like this story. The kingdom of heaven is worth more than anything we can gain on our own.
When I gave the sermon on this passage, I shared that most of the struggle we’re dealing with in the church today is a result of abundance. We live in an incredibly abundant society. Affluence is everywhere. Sure, Christ-followers may be facing adversity for their faith. But adversity isn’t as much of a problem as affluence and abundance. We have too much of everything. Too much technology. Too much trash because we have too much stuff that even second hand stores are overflowing. Too much opportunity. Too much freedom. Too many events. Too many pressures. Too much information. Too much politics. It’s all too much.
Have you ever tried to use bathroom paper-towels to soak up a spill? Have you noticed how non-absorbent they are? You end up just pushing the liquid around instead of soaking it up. Dan Gruver wrote on “The Gospel Coalition” blog that we are “Trying to dry up our profound “sense of exile” with the non-absorbent paper towels of the incomplete joys of this world.” All we’re doing with our abundance is pushing around a problem that can only be absorbed by the Kingdom of Heaven.
JRR Tolkien wrote: “We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’.” All abundance really amounts to is distraction. The more abundance, the greater the opportunity to be distracted from what really matters. That’s true for your walk with God, for your family and anything that really matters.
In my lifetime there has been a lot of talk about “mortgaging our kids future”. One side will use that phrase to talk about the national debt, the other about climate change. What we do as a society is rob from our future so we can have what we want now. I do it. We all do it. We have a mortgage on our house. We want the luxury now with as little sacrifice as possible. All we do is push our problems down the road a little further. The problem is never absorbed because that’s not what that particular type of paper towel was designed to do. Bathroom paper towels were meant to dry your hands and thrown away. They’re designed to be trash. The stuff of abundance is also designed to be trash. It’s pretty much garbage when we buy it.
But, that’s not what the kingdom of heaven is like. We’re supposed to live our lives today with the full assurance that God will keep His promises tomorrow. As Jesus said, each day has enough trouble of it’s own. We’re supposed to live like Jesus is coming tomorrow. Most of us, though, hope He doesn’t. Because we want to fulfill our dreams for our own life before He comes. He can come, just not before we’re done getting what we want.
We can’t build God’s kingdom and our own at the same time. Our kingdom is the stuff non absorbent paper towels are made of. That’s what we’re supposed to joyfully sell so we can get God’s kingdom. The faith-filled follower of Jesus Christ is not obsessed with the pleasures and treasures of this life. The faith-filled follower of Jesus lives their life in full assurance of the hope that Jesus secured for us with his death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
Non-absorbent paper towels is the stuff of landfills. But faith is the stuff the Kingdom is made of.