Putting Jesus Into Real Life
|May 22nd- Priceless Treasure|
“"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.” (Matthew 13:44)
In his book Living on the Edge, pastor and author Chip Ingram tells about a series of case studies used at Harvard and M.I.T. that are designed to help students make excellent decisions. (Ingram found the studies in the book Risk, Reason, and the Decision-Making Process.)
One of the case study scenarios is particularly captivating. (Remember this is a hypothetical!)
“Sheila is an art professor in a small community college in the Midwest. While traveling in Europe for the summer, she looks for paintings she can afford to put in her own collection. When in a small village in southern France, well off the beaten path, Sheila goes to an auction and sees a painting that looks very much like an original Picasso. It is an amazing replica, but the people at the art auction tell her it's not an original. It is deemed to be merely an extraordinary copy of Picasso's work because the signature at the bottom does not look like Picasso's signature on other works.
Sheila pulls out her magnifying glass and begins to examine the painting carefully, realizing that she may in fact be in front of a rare masterpiece. Through her reading she has learned that some of Picasso's early works had only his initials scribbled roughly. Picasso changed this after his first year of work when he began to sign his paintings with his full name. If this is true, Sheila is standing in front of a priceless piece of art.
The price tag was twenty-five thousand dollars—a huge sum of money for her. But if in fact this was an original Picasso and one of the two or three believed to have been done prior to his signing his full name, she was holding one of the world's rarest pieces of art, worth millions. What should Sheila do?
The twenty-five-thousand-dollar asking price was a joke on Sheila's budget, but her heart raced and her mind began to quickly calculate what she could get for her entire collection if she sold it all to purchase this potential masterpiece. Sheila was at a crossroads. She could sell her entire collection and instantly become a multimillionaire, or sell her entire collection only to discover that the painting was only a replica. What should she do?”
What would you do if you were in Sheila's situation? Would you risk it all to gain so much? Or would you play it safe? In my opinion, there is only one answer—risk it all. She could gain so much by giving up so little. And remember, this isn't an uneducated gamble. Sheila has the knowledge of her studies behind her.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a short parable that is very much like Sheila's situation with her Picasso. “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.” When it comes to faith, Jesus says go for it!
Think of it in terms of risk and reward. Does that which you could lose really compare to that which you could gain? And remember, just like Sheila this is not an uneducated decision. There is good evidence that Jesus is worth every penny.
Have you ever made a decision to become a Christian? Have you sold the field of your life and taken the treasure of Jesus? If not, don't wait, the decision is urgent.
Or are you already a Christian? Then be honest, have you sold everything to buy that field or are you holding back, afraid of giving it all up? Keep this in mind, you can never have the fullness of the reward without the fullness of the risk. Following Jesus is about more than punching a ticket to heaven, it is about living completely for Him, and that means holding nothing back.
At first, Sheila's decision seems like a hard one, but really it isn't. At first, the decision to follow Jesus seems like a hard one too, but really it isn't either. This is all about risk verses reward, and when the reward is priceless it is worth any risk.