A wintertime game we played in Canada was called ‘King of the Castle.’ It consisted of a large mound of snow (abundantly supplied), the top of which was dubbed ‘the castle.’ Defending said trophy included throwing masses of snowballs at the intruders, who were returning fire with fire. Also strategic was the creeping around behind the defenders in an attempt to dislodge them from their perch (I’ll refrain from describing the 10-year-old violence involved).
In High School, our history teacher, Mr. Gould, demonstrated for us the grown-up version of this childhood game. It was the section on World War II. At one point in a class period, he suddenly, and with great passion, leapt atop his desk and began shouting that we would never be able to take his land. He proceeded to ‘shoot’ at us, daring us to come an inch closer. So shocking was this ardent display, I still remember it half a century later! It seems mankind never loses this lust for dominance, for more expanded territory over which to rule supreme. Despite the cost, as Jesus warned his disciples, nation would go to war with nation, and kingdom with kingdom.
However, not all protracted measures to attain desired goals are as ugly as my frosty forays or as diabolical as the battles that rage around the globe. Jesus told a parable with a goal equally as mind-boggling. Using simile, Jesus revealed something extreme about the character of the Kingdom of God. He cited a jewel merchant on a quest to find rare pearls. Finding one, and being so overjoyed, the merchant gave up all he had to acquire it. Everything! For just one pearl! (it’s little wonder the disciples came to Jesus later, asking him to stop speaking in parables but speak plainly!).
Incredibly, we are that pearl and Jesus is that merchant. Incredible, first, that he would find the likes of us exceedingly rare and beautiful; incredible, second, that he would be fully willing to ‘give all away’ in exchange for us. Hebrews 12:2 tells us: “Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that [we] would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation . . .” John records Jesus as saying: “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all.” 15:13, TPT. Who but Jesus would have, indeed could have, completed a mission that would express infinite, redeeming love – for us?
More astounding yet, is grasping that we (Jesus’ pearls) have been made to be a people on mission – for God! Ambassadors of reconciliation. Witnesses. “Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, [God] had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11, MSG. Y’all, let me just say that this story we’ve been caught up in is far bigger than we’ll ever grasp this side of heaven. It’s a missional journey to the Father’s heart which promises much delight, much adventure. PD