Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Once Again, It's Not About You First.

Jesus told many parables.

If you're like me, you're so quick to assume that he's teaching us about what we have to do, that like me, you don't listen properly.

Let's take an example. Have a look at the first 90secs of this video:

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like one who finds buried treasure or a pearl of great price. When they find it, they are overjoyed and sell everything they have in order to get it.

If you're like me, you immediately jump to the conclusion that the parable is about you and that when we hear the Gospel, we have to do lots of good biblically moral things to prove we mean business with God. In other words, this parable is a call to ultimate discipleship.

Good. Thank you. Right next parable please...

But wait, let's ponder a little further to see what the spiritually impetuous eye misses...

The parable talks first of the Father, who seeing in eternity past a pearl of great price, a treasure, in the church, rejoiced and gave everything he had for it, even his very own son.

It talks second about Jesus, who also willingly gave everything he had, even his very own life to gain this same treasure, that the Father and Son might together enjoy this treasure in the fellowship of the Spirit.

One of the clues that it's about the Father and the Son first is the location of the treasure and the pearl. The pearl is under water and the treasure is under ground. Both of these are symbols of death - the ultimate loss. The Trinity experiences death (death meaning cut off from fellowship with the Trinity not non-existence as we mistakenly think) in order to obtain this treasure, this pearl.

Only then, does the church come into view. The Church, the physical presence of Christ on the earth, inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God and caught up into the divine community of the Trinity. Likewise, she now cannot help but joyfully give up her life for the completion of this great treasure.

It's less a moral command to the Church and more a natural overflow. Those who are in Christ (the Church) and therefore full of the Spirit of Christ, cannot help but be like Christ. The branch cannot but bear fruit.

So what's the application of this parable?

Be in awe of the self-giving Trinitarian God and in symmetry follow Jesus to death. That's all.

Every other application is not worthy of you, and more seriously, it degrades the work of the Father, Son and Spirit.


dave bish said...

Such parables deeply expose our hearts don't they!

Richard Walker said...

Absolutely! My housemate pointed this little nugget out to me, otherwise I would still have been trudging down the me first path of navel gazing.