What If?

Man, this really freaks me out in a wonderful way!

I got an email the other day and in the course of telling his story he included a question posed to him by a friend that he later said “rocked me to my core and ricocheted around my emptiness for years like a steel marble in a pinball machine.”

Consider yourself warned! Here it comes:

What if the guy who sold everything he had to buy the incomparable pearl, was God and you were the incomparable pearl?

What if? I have never heard that interpretation before. Wouldn’t that change everything about the way we relate to God?

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32 Comments
  1. Dave A August 24, 2006 at 10:17 am

    YES!

  2. Kelly Martin-Shirk August 24, 2006 at 10:35 am

    I have heard that interpretation before – and it is still making it’s way around inside my inner parts!

  3. Dave A August 24, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    YES!

  4. Kelly Martin-Shirk August 24, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    I have heard that interpretation before – and it is still making it’s way around inside my inner parts!

  5. Tyler Dawn August 24, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Hmmmm…. I guess this would explain why so many of us are buried deep in the earth (world), still waiting for the new owner of the field to unearth us and clean us up…..

  6. Tyler Dawn August 24, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    Hmmmm…. I guess this would explain why so many of us are buried deep in the earth (world), still waiting for the new owner of the field to unearth us and clean us up…..

  7. Greg August 24, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Amazing. What a cool way to look at that. And consistent with the rest of what we see of the heart of God in scripture. When I first read that, I thought, “Nah… that can’t be…” So I looked it up online:

    Matthew 13:44-52
    44 “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 – and to get the treasure, too! 45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! 47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind. 48 When the net is full, they drag it up onto the shore, sit down, sort the good fish into crates, and throw the bad ones away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, 50 throwing the wicked into the fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Do you understand?””Yes,” they said, “we do.” 52 Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old.”

    The man “sold everything he owned” – Jesus gave up who he was (Phil 2) and his life on the cross…
    And the pearl merchant “bought it” – we have been “bought at a price”. (1 Cor 6:20)
    And the fish story is consistent in the the person searching for the item (in that case, the fish) ends up being God and his angels.

    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Wayne.

  8. Greg August 25, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Amazing. What a cool way to look at that. And consistent with the rest of what we see of the heart of God in scripture. When I first read that, I thought, “Nah… that can’t be…” So I looked it up online:

    Matthew 13:44-52
    44 “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 – and to get the treasure, too! 45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! 47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind. 48 When the net is full, they drag it up onto the shore, sit down, sort the good fish into crates, and throw the bad ones away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, 50 throwing the wicked into the fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Do you understand?””Yes,” they said, “we do.” 52 Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old.”

    The man “sold everything he owned” – Jesus gave up who he was (Phil 2) and his life on the cross…
    And the pearl merchant “bought it” – we have been “bought at a price”. (1 Cor 6:20)
    And the fish story is consistent in the the person searching for the item (in that case, the fish) ends up being God and his angels.

    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Wayne.

  9. Aida August 25, 2006 at 3:45 am

    I heard that interpretation several years ago and it was explained to me just as Father explained it to Greg and it made more sense to me than the commonly held interpretation. Several months ago, when I was sharing with a group of friends at their meeting, I used some of the same Scriptures Greg used.

    Verse 44 says the treasure was hidden in a field. Going back to verse 38, it says “the field is the world,” so from that I assumed we are the treasure since we are the ones who are in the world. When I think of treasure, I think of a pirate’s chest with lots of jewels in it (maybe that’s from watching Pirates of the Carribbean) so to me, the treasure hidden in the field represents the universality of God’s love. “For God so loved the world.” The single pearl of great price represents the individuality of God’s love. “God loves me.” It’s great to know that God loves the world, but what will really change my life is knowing that He loves me.

    Thanks for reminding me once again of his love. Great way to start the day.

    Aida

  10. Aida August 25, 2006 at 6:45 am

    I heard that interpretation several years ago and it was explained to me just as Father explained it to Greg and it made more sense to me than the commonly held interpretation. Several months ago, when I was sharing with a group of friends at their meeting, I used some of the same Scriptures Greg used.

    Verse 44 says the treasure was hidden in a field. Going back to verse 38, it says “the field is the world,” so from that I assumed we are the treasure since we are the ones who are in the world. When I think of treasure, I think of a pirate’s chest with lots of jewels in it (maybe that’s from watching Pirates of the Carribbean) so to me, the treasure hidden in the field represents the universality of God’s love. “For God so loved the world.” The single pearl of great price represents the individuality of God’s love. “God loves me.” It’s great to know that God loves the world, but what will really change my life is knowing that He loves me.

    Thanks for reminding me once again of his love. Great way to start the day.

    Aida

  11. 2tim4:3 August 25, 2006 at 7:07 am

    Maybe. Sounds a bit narcistic to me.
    I liked Jamal’s story a lot better.

  12. Wayne August 25, 2006 at 8:06 am

    2tim4:3,

    I guess I’d understand your comment better if we were the ones saying it.

    But if that’s what Jesus said, it wouldn’t be narcissitic at all. It would be an awesome demonstration of his love for us all…

    Wayne

  13. Peter August 25, 2006 at 9:59 am

    2tim4:3

    What is it you liked better about Jamal’s story? For me, I was left wondering if it was even true. After all what is a foreign doctoral student doing working at a service station? I didn’t think you were allowed to work on a student visa.

    I’m sorry — I’m just very cynical after deacades of sermon excamples that are suppose to encourage us but have the opposite effect when they turn out not to be true. Pastors even have a term for this. It’s called ‘Evangelasticly Speaking’ (i.e. stretching the truth). They intend that to be funny, but I am filled with rage on the inside. My reaction is: you are suppose to share God’s truth with me, but you deliberately lied.

    I don’t think Wayne is deliberately lying to us here, but this doesn’t come from his first hand account. I don’t know where it came from or how many hands it’s passed through (the old game of telephone), so I don’t tend to let myself be moved by stories like these. I am much more open to someone sharing scripture in a new light. I can look that up and see for myself.

    Peter

  14. 2tim4:3 August 25, 2006 at 10:07 am

    Maybe. Sounds a bit narcistic to me.
    I liked Jamal’s story a lot better.

  15. ron August 25, 2006 at 10:42 am

    “wouldn’t that change everything about the way we relate to God?” How would that change anything about how we relate to God? This kind of interpetation doesn’t rattle me, I’ve heard this kind of gospel everywhere in the self centered message of western christianity. Its all about me, me. Maybe if we started to see God in all of His wonder, majesty and eternal glory again we would really worship Him as the “pearl and treasure” that He is and sell all of our consumeristic, me centered talk and setlle for only wanting the glory of God to be exalted.

  16. Wayne August 25, 2006 at 10:50 am

    Peter, I actually appreciate your caution over stories like Jamal’s. I do know for a fact that most things presented in the Christian media and often in sermons are sensationalized beyond any reflection of reality. They justify it to get a response from people. Unfortunately, it is often the response that you allude to, “Gee, what a shmuck I must be!” I think we should treat all such stories suspiciously if we don’t know the players involved, and in this case you do not.

    But I do. I stayed in the home of the people who were part of this story and the email excerpts are first-hand accounts by that person and he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He was simply trying to sort out the work God was doing in them. The fact that they turned down offers of money to help them speaks volumes to me.

    Just for others to know, I’m very careful about stories I post here or use in sharing with others. I have to know the people personally and have some reasonable assurance that the story is being told as authentically as it can be. I don’t think Father needs any sensationalism from us. I also think the way he works is rarely all that sensational when we’re in the midst of it. It just seems so normal. It is only when we look back at all the things he tied together, that we’re awed at what he did. It’s what some call supernaturally natural. And I think our Father is a master at it.

    Wayne

  17. Wayne August 25, 2006 at 11:06 am

    2tim4:3,

    I guess I’d understand your comment better if we were the ones saying it.

    But if that’s what Jesus said, it wouldn’t be narcissitic at all. It would be an awesome demonstration of his love for us all…

    Wayne

  18. Loren Rosser August 25, 2006 at 11:14 am

    That makes total sense! I mean at first I was like, “Wait a minute, what about guys like Paul who gave it all up to advance the kingdom?” Then it dawned on me, duh! We become like who we follow! If we’re receiving Father’s amazing love we’re going to end up having the same heart that was in Jesus. So we’ll be like Him! And if He sold everything and gave it all up so He could purchase that pearl of great price those who follow Him will be prone to do the same thing! So it makes perfect sense, He did it! All we’re doing is being conformed to His image! So if we give anything up for the kingdom, it’s only because He did it first.

  19. 2tim4:3 August 25, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Wayne,

    Yes, the words are from Jesus. It’s the interpretations I’m questioning.

    There is no doubt God loves us. Romans 5:8 says so very explicitly. If people want to see the same thing in Matthew 13:45-46, fine, but I think they are missing greater things — the Kingdom itself.

    The reason I like Jamal’s story is he sees the Kingdom. I get pumped when I hear stories like that. I’ve experienced similar things myself, and they are worth far more than anything I could ever materially own in this life.

  20. Peter August 25, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    2tim4:3

    What is it you liked better about Jamal’s story? For me, I was left wondering if it was even true. After all what is a foreign doctoral student doing working at a service station? I didn’t think you were allowed to work on a student visa.

    I’m sorry — I’m just very cynical after deacades of sermon excamples that are suppose to encourage us but have the opposite effect when they turn out not to be true. Pastors even have a term for this. It’s called ‘Evangelasticly Speaking’ (i.e. stretching the truth). They intend that to be funny, but I am filled with rage on the inside. My reaction is: you are suppose to share God’s truth with me, but you deliberately lied.

    I don’t think Wayne is deliberately lying to us here, but this doesn’t come from his first hand account. I don’t know where it came from or how many hands it’s passed through (the old game of telephone), so I don’t tend to let myself be moved by stories like these. I am much more open to someone sharing scripture in a new light. I can look that up and see for myself.

    Peter

  21. ron August 25, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    “wouldn’t that change everything about the way we relate to God?” How would that change anything about how we relate to God? This kind of interpetation doesn’t rattle me, I’ve heard this kind of gospel everywhere in the self centered message of western christianity. Its all about me, me. Maybe if we started to see God in all of His wonder, majesty and eternal glory again we would really worship Him as the “pearl and treasure” that He is and sell all of our consumeristic, me centered talk and setlle for only wanting the glory of God to be exalted.

  22. Wayne August 25, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Peter, I actually appreciate your caution over stories like Jamal’s. I do know for a fact that most things presented in the Christian media and often in sermons are sensationalized beyond any reflection of reality. They justify it to get a response from people. Unfortunately, it is often the response that you allude to, “Gee, what a shmuck I must be!” I think we should treat all such stories suspiciously if we don’t know the players involved, and in this case you do not.

    But I do. I stayed in the home of the people who were part of this story and the email excerpts are first-hand accounts by that person and he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He was simply trying to sort out the work God was doing in them. The fact that they turned down offers of money to help them speaks volumes to me.

    Just for others to know, I’m very careful about stories I post here or use in sharing with others. I have to know the people personally and have some reasonable assurance that the story is being told as authentically as it can be. I don’t think Father needs any sensationalism from us. I also think the way he works is rarely all that sensational when we’re in the midst of it. It just seems so normal. It is only when we look back at all the things he tied together, that we’re awed at what he did. It’s what some call supernaturally natural. And I think our Father is a master at it.

    Wayne

  23. Loren Rosser August 25, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    That makes total sense! I mean at first I was like, “Wait a minute, what about guys like Paul who gave it all up to advance the kingdom?” Then it dawned on me, duh! We become like who we follow! If we’re receiving Father’s amazing love we’re going to end up having the same heart that was in Jesus. So we’ll be like Him! And if He sold everything and gave it all up so He could purchase that pearl of great price those who follow Him will be prone to do the same thing! So it makes perfect sense, He did it! All we’re doing is being conformed to His image! So if we give anything up for the kingdom, it’s only because He did it first.

  24. 2tim4:3 August 25, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Wayne,

    Yes, the words are from Jesus. It’s the interpretations I’m questioning.

    There is no doubt God loves us. Romans 5:8 says so very explicitly. If people want to see the same thing in Matthew 13:45-46, fine, but I think they are missing greater things — the Kingdom itself.

    The reason I like Jamal’s story is he sees the Kingdom. I get pumped when I hear stories like that. I’ve experienced similar things myself, and they are worth far more than anything I could ever materially own in this life.

  25. Greg August 26, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Today, Jen was reading to the kids from the story in the Bible about Zaccheus and Jesus, and when they were done, she re-read the last line of that story to me. “Jesus came looking for the lost”. She said with having read this last night, and the scriptures I found above as well… that line was just extra cool. He really is the one looking for us. And that is so amazingly cool!

  26. Greg August 26, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Today, Jen was reading to the kids from the story in the Bible about Zaccheus and Jesus, and when they were done, she re-read the last line of that story to me. “Jesus came looking for the lost”. She said with having read this last night, and the scriptures I found above as well… that line was just extra cool. He really is the one looking for us. And that is so amazingly cool!

  27. bruced August 27, 2006 at 4:49 am

    I first heard that interpretation a while back from a fellow named Mike Williams (www.gospelogic.com). He has very interesting approach to the Gospel… a real eye opener!

  28. bruced August 27, 2006 at 7:49 am

    I first heard that interpretation a while back from a fellow named Mike Williams (www.gospelogic.com). He has very interesting approach to the Gospel… a real eye opener!

  29. societyvs August 30, 2006 at 8:59 am

    Now that’s the good news of the gospels, true love that we have a tough time fathoming.

  30. societyvs August 30, 2006 at 11:59 am

    Now that’s the good news of the gospels, true love that we have a tough time fathoming.

  31. James Flanders October 4, 2006 at 8:25 am

    Why would anyone interpret it any other way? “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.”

    None of us could ever pay a high enough price to merit salvation. Jesus paid the price for us. That is why it’s called “good news.”

    Some may call that “cheap grace” but the truth is that if it wasn’t cheap none of us could afford it.

    If we had to pay for it…then it wouldn’t be grace at all.

    JESUS paid the price completely, He left the glory and wonder of heaven to come to earth to do for you what you could never do for yourself. The glorious gift of salvation cost the BLOOD of CHRIST…that is a very high price indeed. Our part is to simply believe/trust in what He accomplished for us.

    What must I do to be saved? “Believe on the LORD JESUS CHRIST and you will be saved.”

    IT IS FINISHED!

  32. James Flanders October 4, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Why would anyone interpret it any other way? “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.”

    None of us could ever pay a high enough price to merit salvation. Jesus paid the price for us. That is why it’s called “good news.”

    Some may call that “cheap grace” but the truth is that if it wasn’t cheap none of us could afford it.

    If we had to pay for it…then it wouldn’t be grace at all.

    JESUS paid the price completely, He left the glory and wonder of heaven to come to earth to do for you what you could never do for yourself. The glorious gift of salvation cost the BLOOD of CHRIST…that is a very high price indeed. Our part is to simply believe/trust in what He accomplished for us.

    What must I do to be saved? “Believe on the LORD JESUS CHRIST and you will be saved.”

    IT IS FINISHED!

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