The pearl

Here in the Vil­lage we have mens’ and ladies’ meet­ings on most Sat­ur­day morn­ings. Some­times they’ll be cor­po­rate meet­ings where all the men of the Vil­lage come togeth­er, but most of the time they’re “clan” meet­ings (we’ve divid­ed the Vil­lage up into sev­er­al small groups con­sist­ing of 4–5 house­holds, which we affec­tion­ate­ly call “clans”, so that we can more eas­i­ly take care of each other).

Dur­ing a mens’ meet­ing sev­er­al weeks ago, we were dis­cussing the spir­i­tu­al war­fare that the peo­ple of God are (or at least, should be) in.

I’d been feel­ing pret­ty heavy that morn­ing because of some things I’d heard about and seen that were affect­ing some young peo­ple, and some adults as well, in the vil­lage, so I began to talk about fight­ing against let­ting dark­ness into the Church, and about being in a spir­i­tu­al war. Some of the oth­er men chimed in and we had a great dis­cus­sion about being alert to the fact that we are in a war, and not being complacent.

It was a good exhortation.

And I hat­ed it.

I felt like we were say­ing things that need­ed to be said and giv­ing a good call to action, but this heav­i­ness descend­ed on the meet­ing, espe­cial­ly on the younger guys, and I did­n’t know what to do to bring life back. I real­ized that the teenagers were prob­a­bly feel­ing that it was a “the old farts are telling us we can’t have any fun” kind of meeting.

Most of the old­er men had to leave before the meet­ing end­ed, so there end­ed up being just a few of us left, most­ly the teens. In an attempt to reach out to the younger guys, I told them that I did­n’t want to sit around and talk about the bad things all the time; I want­ed them to know the rea­son I got all fired up about the bad things, the why behind our fight, which is hav­ing fel­low­ship with God. We talked for a cou­ple min­utes about some of the expe­ri­ences we’ve had where we real­ly felt the pres­ence of God strong­ly, and I noticed how much the younger guys’ eyes lit up.

I felt like God told me to pay atten­tion to that.

Lat­er on, while think­ing about all that had hap­pened, God point­ed me to this scripture:

And do not be con­formed to this world, but be trans­formed by the renew­ing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and accept­able and perfect.”

Romans 12:2, NAS

Some­times, I’m dense. And that just did­n’t make much sense to me in the con­text of what I was look­ing for. But lat­er on, every­thing clicked.

You see, there is a need for exhor­ta­tion. There’s a need for shoring each oth­er up, encour­ag­ing each oth­er, and some­times even rebuk­ing each oth­er. There’s a need to fight against the wiles of the dev­il, and the things of the world com­ing into the Body of Christ. It’s nec­es­sary that we are “not con­formed to this world,” but that’s not the most impor­tant part of that verse.

The most impor­tant part of that verse is the part that says:

…but be trans­formed by the renew­ing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and accept­able and per­fect.

It’s not just the fact that there is some­thing to come out of, but the most amaz­ing fact that there is some­thing to go into! We get to be trans­formed! We get to prove what the will of God is!

We need to talk about the cost, and make sure that we cal­cu­late it–Christ even tells us to do that, and says that no builder attempts to build a tow­er with­out first sit­ting down and cal­cu­lat­ing the cost. But we should­n’t obsess over the cost. There’s always a cost when you go to buy something–but you’re pay­ing that cost because you believe that the pur­chase is worth it!

Look at this:

The king­dom of heav­en is like a trea­sure hid­den in the feild, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the king­dom of heav­en is like a mer­chant seek­ing fine pearls, and upon find­ing one pearl of great val­ue, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:44–46, NAS

When that mer­chant sold all he had to buy that pearl, it did­n’t say that he did so begrudg­ing­ly; “Geez. Can’t believe I had to sell all of that. Ah well. I guess I can build up my trea­sures again. Stu­pid pearl.”

No, you get the sense he is ecsta­t­ic about that pearl, and can’t wait to get every­thing sold so he can buy it! This is what he’s been look­ing for his whole life!

We should nev­er hold up the cost more than the Pearl of Great Price; I should always hold up the Pearl higher.

Yes, there is a cost, and yes, it costs every­thing.

But the cost is worth it.

The rea­son those young mens’ eyes lit up when we talked about the pres­ence of God is because they got their eyes off the over­whelm­ing cost, and onto the over­whelm­ing Rea­son for the cost–Jesus Christ!

We need to keep our pri­or­i­ties straight. If we lose sight of what we’re run­ning this race for, why we’re endur­ing the hard­ships and strug­gles that come, and fight­ing the good fight, what’s the purpose?

If we put all the pri­or­i­ty on “the don’ts”, on keep­ing the things of the world out, on deny­ing our­selves, on avoid­ing darkness–even though all of those things are good and neccessary–then what we’re doing is telling the peo­ple we’re try­ing to encour­age a false mes­sage. We’re say­ing, “Ok, here’s the Pearl, but you’ll have to give up this, and this, and this. Oh yeah, you’ll have to give that up, too. Sorry.”

But that is not our mes­sage. Our mes­sage should be:

Who cares what you have to give up!? You get to have the Pearl! You found It! That’s worth everything!”

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