I've been duplicating myself this week by posting portions of the sermons I'm delivering at a camp. For today, I thought I'd share towards the end, right before I make the classic camp altar call.
Night 4 - God is Personal
Life only makes sense when you see things from a God-eye view. See, God has this idea in His divine mind that since He is the best thing ever, our sole desire should be for more of Him. If it weren't, Jesus wouldn't have said such crazy things as He did in Matthew 13:44-46. He tells us of a guy out treasure hunting. He doesn't tell us much, but the treasure was hidden in a field. So the guy that was looking, was looking on purpose. He probably had a metal detector and a shovel with him. And when he found it, Jesus says that he hid it again, and in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field.
It’s hard to even put this in terms that we can relate to. How many of you are bargain hunters? Do you clip coupons and search papers or the web for deals? Has there ever been anything you wanted so much that you thought about selling everything you had in order to get it? I doubt it. See, we look for treasures to add to our treasure chest. We’re like pirates in nice suits and dresses. That’s because rarely, if ever, does a treasure grab our undivided attention.
But this was not the case in this story Jesus told. The guy went and sold it all. Everything. Things he probably liked and things he knew he could do without because this treasure was the ultimate.
Jesus also compared the kingdom of Heaven to a merchant looking for pearls. This isn't you or me looking for shiny new techno gadgets. This is an expert in the field looking for the one. The pearl of legends, the one he sometimes wonders if it even exists. When he finds it, he too sells everything he has. This would have to include several other expensive pearls. He sold it all in order to attain this most precious of all pearls. (Insert your own Gollum / Lord of the Rings joke right here.)
Again, I believe it is hard for us to even think like this. We have even perhaps attempted to put things on a tier level. God is at the top, then the family, church, work, and then anything else. And while this may be better than having God somewhere down the tier, I’m not sure having a tier is good. In Luke 15, Jesus gives us three more pictures of what God’s focus is like. It’s the story of a man who loses one sheep from a hundred, a woman who loses one coin from ten, and a man who loses one son of two. In each story, the person’s focus turns to the lost object or person. When they are found, a party is had. Jesus tells us this is what Heaven looks like when a lost person is found.
If God’s focus on us is like this, shouldn't ours be as true. God did not forget the 99 sheep, the 9 coins, or the older son who were not lost. As Jesus tells the story, the found are always with God and always have access to everything He has. In the same way, we should not fear that if we give a singular focus towards God that our friends and family will suffer. Rather, our love and energy will be multiplied and what we have to offer will be better. Much, much better.