Tag Archives: Survivor

Joyful Treasure: Thoughts on Matthew 13:44

When I was a teenager, our family hosted a Saturday night Bible study for the youth. Since my dad was a pastor, we had dozens of Bibles so if anyone forgot to bring theirs, they simply borrowed one of ours. I remember that on one Saturday night, one teen found $20 in a Bible. He informed my dad of his discovery and got up to hand it back to him. He told him to keep it. He explained that he purposefully put the $20 in the Bible a few weeks prior as an object lessons. “There’s treasure in the Scriptures; greater treasures than a measly $20.” You probably know what happened next. Everyone with a borrowed Bible began thumbing through it looking for $20. Perhaps they missed the point.

Jesus told a parable as well. An object lesson of sorts. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field,” (Matthew 13:44, ESV). The kingdom of heaven, God’s kingdom (his domain, his realm, his rule) is like a treasure hidden. It is of great worth. It’s more valuable than we know.

If you’ve ever seen the Marvel’s movie The Black Panther, you know that the nation of Wakanda looks like a poor African kingdom, but in reality it is technology and monetarily wealthy. It has weapons and technology no other nation in the world has. Yet it is purposefully hidden in East Africa using the technology that comes with harnessing Vibranium. I am not a fan of comparing reality with comic books, but I want to make the points that

  1. God’s Kingdom has more riches, more wonders, than we may notice at first and
  2. Those riches and wonders are purposefully hidden and must be found.

Just as Wakanda and just as my dad placing the $20 in the Bible were purposefully hidden, so the kingdom of God is hidden as well. This is why Jesus told parables. “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” (Matthew 13:13, ESV). Mark expresses it even more emphatically, “And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven,”‘” (4:11-12, ESV).

However, once someone sees–truly sees–the treasure that is God’s kingdom, nothing can keep him from having it. In the parable, the man covers the treasure up and runs to sell everything in order to buy the field. Some people get hung up on his covering and buying without informing the owner. Don’t. Parables have a point. They are not to answer every question that may arise. Not everything has a specific meaning in parables. The main focus is on how great the treasure of the field is, and it should be on that which we concentrate.

The treasure was so great that the man sold everything! He abandoned everything he knew and had to gain the treasure in the field, and he did it with pleasure. Like those teenagers who began to flip through their Bibles joyfully expecting a surprise, this man joyfully bought a field. He was willing to pay any price because he knew that nothing he owned could compare to what he found. Even if everyone else thought he was insane to sell everything, he knew the truth. Do we see heaven like that man saw the treasure?

I wonder if many of us simply see some shiny metal, maybe a sparkle here and there and do not see the treasure that is heaven. I wonder if we have not inspected the treasure to see how valuable it truly is. I say that because of how casually many Christians treat the kingdom.

I watch Survivor and see men and women cast away for 39 days. They suffer hunger, pain, sleep-depravation, loneliness, betrayal, and more to win $1,000,000 and often to prove something to themselves or others. They cry, they get angry, they laugh at times, they push themselves to the very limit, always talking about coming home with $1,000,000 and self-respect. Not everyone wants to be on Survivor, but watching that show can give us an idea of what the man in the parable felt. If someone came to you and simply told you that you could have $1,000,000 if you sold your house and all your possessions, would you be willing to do so? The kingdom of heaven is much greater than that, and in reality, most of us will never have to sell a thing. Instead, we must see it for what it is: priceless–invaluable, and then be willing to give all (even if we are never called upon to do so). I hope this year, as I grow in my Christian walk, I see God’s kingdom ever more valuable and may the joy that brings to my soul be such that I can easily part with whatever called upon to do. I hope the same for you.

Finding an Idol

If you’re a “Survivor” fan, you know about the hidden immunity idol.  Up until a few seasons ago, people tended to wait for a clue before searching for the coveted necklace, but that all changed when one of the players–Russel Hantz–searched without any clues and found one. In fact, he was so good at finding them, he became known as the king of hidden immunity idols.  Getting back to these idols; the reason they are so critical to the game is because when a team loses, they have to vote out a player. If the player suspects he/she might be the player voted out, they can bring out the immunity idol and all votes against him/her are dismissed. Often, players seek to flush out immunity idols of others by making them believe they are voting for them when they are actually voting for someone else. That way, later on in the game, hopefully those players will be vulnerable to being voted out.  Those who are vigilant, find the idols and use them wisely.

Solomon gives some great advice, that relates to those who flush out the hidden immunity idols. Except his advice, obviously, is not for some game, but for life. He wrote, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). It is no secret that whoever has the high ground, will win the battle more times than not. For that reason, cities would build watchtowers and towers for archers on corners of their city walls so that the enemy could be seen and fought at different angles. Legend has it that Humpty Dumpty was actually the nickname of a canon in one such tower. When the tower was destroyed it fell to the ground and due to its size it became immovable under the rubble; not even a team of horses could move it. Because of that, the city was overtaken by its invaders.

The scenario doesn’t just work with literal strongholds, fortresses, and towers; it works for our own inner-battles. It’s a fair bet to say that most of us do not have the time, or more likely do not take the time, to seek the stronghold (or as I like to say, the idol) that is keeping us in our sins.  It could be the idol of pleasure, distrust, self-trust, power, money, or any number of other strongholds.  Typically speaking, the stronghold is not just affecting one area of our lives, but multiple areas. The same stronghold/idol may be fighting you on multiple walls.

Perhaps you can’t figure out why pornography has such a stronghold on you. As you look, you realize that you also have a problem with overeating (whether your struggling with weight or not). You realize that you watch too much television or play Fortnite too long as well.  Suddenly the idol of pleasure can be clearly seen. Or perhaps the stronghold of approval (see my blog, Help! My Husband Watches Porn! for more on this).

Perhaps you can’t understand why you have anger issues, but suddenly you see that your desk has to be just so before you can concentrate. You are constantly washing, waxing, and vacuuming out your car. You freak out when your shoes are scuffed. Perhaps the stronghold of perfectionism is the issue, or maybe the idol of control has been lifted high.

There tends to be a glaring sin in a believer’s life that is crying out about which you and I need to deal. The believer rightly sees it and declares war on what they believe to be the sin. In reality, the sin is the symptom of the idolatrous stronghold.  Wasted energy is given toward the sin that seems so unrelenting, but if we looked, we’d see that it is the stronghold above shooting arrows of which we have been completely unaware.  “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). When you and I do that, we very well may find that the sinful symptoms are more easily overcome.

I’d love to hear your comments. Let me know you thoughts or attitudes as to what I have written.  Feel free to share if you believe this would help others. Please feel free to ask questions about what I’ve written as well.