This is my dog Nikki. More on her later.
In Matthew 13 Jesus gives a very short illustration about the Kingdom of God:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When He found one of great value, he went away
and sold everything he had and bought it” (v. 45-46).
Sometimes I have a hard time with this concept - selling EVERYTHING so that you might have ONE thing. In some ways it seems almost foolish, until you realize that THIS was what the pearl merchant had been looking for all of his life - and he would give anything and everything to possess it.
Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is that thing you have been looking for all of your life, and it is worth giving anything and everything to possess it.
So many of us have struggled with this concept when we realize it means surrender of our talents, money, rights, time - everything we have and are. Sometimes we bristle at the thought that God would ask us to give up EVERYTHING to follow Him.
In the UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM AND THE UNCHANGING PERSON,
E. Stanley Jones reminds us that Jesus doesn’t just call
us to a life of full surrender - He modeled it for us.
“Though He was God,
He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up His divine privileges;
He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form,
He humbled Himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 NLT).
He surrendered everything for us and He invites us to humble ourselves in obedience to God, to surrender all that we have and are, that we might gain the Pearl of Great Price - the Kingdom of God.
And what does that mean, exactly?
Forgiveness of sin, fellowship with God, inner peace, joy, love, life purpose, truth, heaven, a code to live by that teaches us how to be our very best selves - all this and so much more! Whether we realize it or not, this is what we have been looking for all our lives.
Nikki is my 9 year old poodle. She’s a sweetie.
You might think she looks ridiculous in her flower cone in the picture, but I don’t put it on her for looks. She’s allergic to grass (I know, right?) and when the grass is really healthy she chews her feet constantly.
We’ve tried medicines, ointments, herbal supplements, frequent bathing - everything we heard that might work, but this year has been the worst year ever for her.
So she’s wearing a cone so that her feet can heal.
The first time our grandchildren saw her in the cone they fell over in fits of laughter. She does look kind of silly - in a cute way. I was talking about it with our 7 year old granddaughter who is familiar with Nikki’s allergy. I’ve been so surprised that Nikki doesn’t fight me about putting it on her. She comes over, sits at my feet, waits for me to put it on, and hasn’t tried to take it off even once.
Our granddaughter said, “That’s probably because she knows you love her.”
A lesson in love and trust from my dog and my granddaughter.
When Jesus asks us to give up everything, we can trust Him because of His love for us. Anything He asks of us us for our good.
The analogy breaks down at this point because He doesn’t MAKE us submit to Him. It’s not something He does TO us like when I put Nikki’s cone on her, it’s a lifestyle He INVITES us to if we are interested in gaining
the Pearl of Great Price - the Kingdom of God.
He demonstrated His willingness to surrender everything that He might have a love relationship with us, and asks if we are also willing to surrender everything to have a love relationship with Him. There is nothing He asks us to surrender to Him that He hasn’t already surrendered for us.
Except, of course, our sin.
Beth Marie Bearden gave her heart to Christ when she was a young teenager and soon after felt God calling her to ministry.