No Turning Back

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

Church Curmudgeon

The common impression that folks in our culture have of a Christian is that we are against a lot of fun things. Most of us are engaged in what the media has called “The Culture War.”  Word on the street is that we Christ-followers are angry, very angry. We are judgmental.

They think we are joyless.

That impression is not unearned. We come by it honestly.

But Jesus’ little story about the hidden treasure exposes that as a shallow caricature. It demonstrates worth life is Christian is a matter of infinite joy.

I like what Dallas Willard says about this,

“The Kingdom of God is present wherever what God wants done is done. It is the range of God’s effective will. The Kingdom of God is spatial and timeless — it is a wonderful place to be and to live and it is eternal. The kingdom of God is all around you. That is the meaning of the phrase, ‘The kingdom of the heavens.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

Thirty-seven years ago last spring, I met my first wife on a blind date as she was graduating college in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The date went well. I asked her if she would like to go out on a second date the coming weekend.

She said no.

Said she had a party to go to. Said it was an engagement party for her roommate. Wondered if I wanted to go to the party with her. Let me get this straight, you want me to go to a party of strangers, a party of choir people who belong to fraternities and sororities, who wear their sweaters tied around their necks like a bunch of preppies using them as superhero capes?

What is the Kingdom of God like? It’s like an introverted, rule-breaking, mountain-raised, red-necked, recluse guy who wanted a second date with a tall, long-legged blond so badly that he went to a nerdy engagement party for someone he didn’t know and certainly didn’t like.

What is the Kingdom of God like? It’s like a Lotto ticket that pays off. It’s like getting a letter from Ed McMahan that says you actually did win the publisher’s clearing house sweepstakes of 8.7 million dollars.

What is the Kingdom of God like?

“Like a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed, then one day he was shootin at some food, up through the ground came a bubblin crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas Tea.”

What is the Kingdom of God like? When people finally understand what’s at stake—they want this more than anything they have ever wanted in their life. And they exchanged the plan they had for their lives for access to this Kingdom with great joy.

If you think about it, Jesus actually goes on to live out the details of this parable. Jesus will be delivered up to death. His body would be sewn into the cold hard earth. Jesus coming out that cold, dark grave on the third day infuses us with life! God would welcome us into his family.

The message of Jesus’ little story is that the God of the universe is glad to give everything to have you. And when that infinite love, when that expansive staggering love is at the center of your life, it is worth giving everything for.

Is it worth it? My personal answer is yes! Not because it is easy. Not even because it is the right thing to do. It is worth it because He is worth it—and we aren’t home yet.

He is worthy of every prayer.
He is worthy of every act of obedience.
He is worthy of every temptation ever resisted.
He is worthy of every song of worship ever sung.
He is worthy of every tear of repentance ever shed.
He is worthy of every ounce of labor ever expended.
He is worthy of my life.
He is worthy.

Life with God, life in the Kingdom of the heavens, is worth giving everything you have. Because you get Jesus.

Even when living as a follower of Jesus puts you out of step with neighbors or colleagues or friends. It is worth it. Even in the moments when your future seems uncertain and it’s hard to trust God—it is worth it.

Even in the moments when you feel all too small and all too ordinary. Why? Because you get Jesus, because you get God, you get infinite joy now.

Jesus tells us this life pricey but is precious it will cost everything, and it will be the best deal you’ve ever had.

At the end of the Council of Elrond in Fellowship of the Ring, there’s a moment in which the two main Hobbit characters, Frodo and Sam, realize they will undertake a quest in which they will endure more loss than they can even imagine.

Tolkien describes Frodo feeling all sorts of nostalgia for his family and friends that he’s leaving behind—all sorts of longing to simply go back to the quiet of the Shire where he’s from and enjoy a simple, predictable life—life that’s not risky, dangerous, and holds no dread for him.

Then almost to his own surprise, Frodo raises his voice in the middle of this circle of people and says:

‘I will go, he said, though I do not know the way.’

This is exactly what we can do when we see the staggering love of God in Jesus. When we see God spending everything to have us.

I will follow, even though I don’t know the way.

Even though I feel little and ordinary, even though it be costly, even though it feels like putting a part of my life to death. I will follow, though I don’t know the way.

When I was a kid there was a song we sang at church camp after e.v.e.r.y. service.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

You can say this because Jesus has spent everything for you and did so in his joy.

About Joe Chambers

I am the beloved of the Most High God. I am an avid reader and writer and have been a continuous learner since my college studies in Ancient Literature and English. I live at the base of Mount Princeton in the Colorado Rockies with my wife of over three decades. I believe I have been put here to tell people that God is not mad at them and to show them the way Home. I am the father of three sons, three beautiful daughters-in-law and four grandchildren. I love to read, tell stories, and spend time in the wilderness.
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