Yesterday we had another ‘vision Saturday’ when the congregations and teams in the Edge Network come together. We’re looking at a series of ‘identities’ that are ours in Christ and which should define who we are and shape how we live. This time it was heirs of God. I began with a story …
Let me tell you a story that Jesus once told. Jesus said the kingdom of God was a bit like this.
A man was walking home from working in the fields when he decided to take a short-cut across a scrubby area that never seemed to be used for anything. There was no clear path through the field so he picked his way through as best he could. About two-thirds of the way across he tripped suddenly and fell into the long grass. A few inches from where he fell he saw to his surprise a piece of metal sticking out of the ground. Curious, he pulled away the grass and brushed off the top soil. It was the metal corner of wooden chest. He tugged away the tufts of grass and dug away at the soil. He pulled and twisted the chest until it was free. He paused. And then lifted its lid. Inside were jewels, pendants, gold coins – all covered in dust, but clearly extremely valuable.
What was he to do?
He sat in the sun for a few minutes. Then closed the chest and reburied it, kicking soil over it and replacing the tufts of grass as best he could. Then he hurried home.
That evening he made enquiries. The land wasn’t being used so perhaps he could buy it. Someone thought Peter owned it. Peter had heard it belonged to Simon. Eventualoly he tracked down the owner and agreed a price. There was some negotiation; a bit of bargaining; he haggled as best he could. But still it was a lot of money. He looked at his savings. Not enough. He asked his relations for a loan. No can do. There was nothing for it. The next day he laid out all his possessions in front of his house – clothes, furniture, ornaments, cooking utensils, tools – everything. All of it for sale. House included.
Everyone was curious. What was he doing? Why? Gradually people starting buying. No doubt some great misfortune has befallen him. There were whispered rumours of debts, of gambling, of drinking. Most were inclined to pity the man. Except that he was smiling broadly. As each item was sold he would laughed to himself. He seemed hardly able to contain a great excitement.
Still, a bargain is a bargain and so people bought his possessions. People were cautious at first, but by mid-morning everyone was keen to get in on the act. Around noon a relative bought his house at a knock-down price. News started get around and in the afternoon people from neighbouring villages were buying up his last remaining possessions. As darkness fell everything was gone. The man took the money and bought the field.
That night, sleeping under the stars with nothing to his name except one field, he was the happiest man alive. In the morning a new life would begin: a life of prosperity and security, of laughter and hope.
‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.’ (Matthew 13:44)