Enjoyment is essential to evangelism
Written by Craig Dyer, Training Director at Christianity Explored Ministries
“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."
I’m sure we’ve all encountered detectorists on the beach or in a field sweeping in search of treasure. Back in July 2009 artefacts dating from the 7th - 8th century and valued at approximately £3.3m were discovered by a detectorist in a field in Staffordshire.
The joy of seeing this treasure
Can you imagine the joy of unearthing first a single coin, and then over the next couple of days, with expert help 3,500 items? Jesus says that His Kingdom – belonging to Him and living under His gracious, saving rule, is like that. In v44 the man now sees vast treasure that was formerly invisible or at least disregarded. He knows its worth is incalculable. As he looks at it in wonder he considers how often he walked past it or over it, and how easily he might have missed it - forever.
We should make a practice of recovering that same joy – the sheer wonder of our blinded eyes being opened by God to see what otherwise we would never appreciate, and what millions still can’t see – the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The joy of securing this treasure
Having protected his discovery, the treasure-finder now sets about making it his. Having discovered the value of this otherwise unremarkable field, he may be selling off his former treasures at insanely low prices. Those who buy from him may think him a fool practically to give away all he has. But he cares not a jot. He knows where lies vast treasure that far outweighs all he has or could ever have.
The Lord Jesus is giving us a way to think about the cost of following Him now. He is clear that to have Him as our eternal, incomparable treasure will mean denying self, taking up the cross and following Him in a world that rejects Him and those who love Him.
There is pain in the pitying looks we are drawn, the exclusion we sometimes feel, the misunderstanding we suffer. But we have done the calculation. The loss of approval in this life is nothing compared to the eternal treasure we gain in belonging to Jesus. And this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
We should remember why we pay the cost of following Christ now with cheerful abandon. As the sign in the shop window at sale-time says, ‘Everything must go!’ We’ve found incomparable treasure and this is how we make Him ours. Let’s join this man in the passage as in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The joy of sharing this treasure
Clearly, the Lord Jesus wants His followers to think of this treasure-finder and see ourselves snuggly in his shoes. He is stirring joy that is real and reasonable in our hearts. But He is not teaching that covering it up and keeping it to ourselves is what we do with the gospel! That emphasis was to help us feel afresh what stunning treasure we have in Him. But the wider context of Matthew 13 shows us a sower going out to sow (v3) and the seed is the word of the kingdom (v19). In v37 the One who sowed the good seed is Jesus Himself, the Son of Man.
The point is that, having had our eyes opened to see the treasure that is in Jesus, we get to share that treasure with others. Much treasure in this world makes its owners suspicious of others and unhappy in themselves. It rarely brings joy. But all we have to do is keep remembering what treasure we have in Christ, and in our joy take others to that field and show them, praying that their eyes too may be opened.
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