Summary: The Christian Life neeeds strict training - to win the prize - the hidden treasure which is the kingdom of God
The Kingdom of Heaven Mt. 13:31-33 and 44-52
Story: I don’t know if you are anything like me but I have been keeping an eye on the Olympics – and hasn’t TEAM GB done well
It is great to see our team step up to receive the gold silver and bronze medals
Especially Paul Goodison in the Laser. Last time in Athens – he came fourth and could have been tempted to quit. But he stuck at the training a further four years and now has a gold medal
What we see is the tip of the iceberg. We don’t see the long hours spend getting up early to train to win the prize in Beijing
And life is similar – the tip of an iceberg. What we will see of Isla will be the tip of the training in life that her parents give her
Isla’s parents and godparents have brought her here today and have promised to bring her up as a Christian – and to live a Christian life will require training too
The Christian life is something very precious. Like the Olympic gold medal – it requires hard work and training to live.
St Paul put it like in 1 Cor 9:24
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
And the ultimate crown of the Christian life – the race we compete in - is to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
The Christian life is something very precious. Like Olympic gold it is precious.
It is this precious treasure that we are praying Isla will find for herself
The Christian life is all about knowing Jesus
St Paul puts it cogently when he says:
I consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ, my Lord (Phil 3:8)
The medal at the end – the goal of one’s life is to be with God in Paradise forever
Or put in other words it’s reward is entry into the Kingdom of heaven
In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, we see the analogy of the Kingdom of heaven being like a hidden treasure or a pearl of great worth
In the parable of the Hidden Treasure you might wonder at the ethics of the man who finds the treasure when he is ploughing a field.
And we see him burying it again and then going off to buy the field - note with all he possessed.
Surely, you might say, this is ethically dubious.
Well not according to Jewish law.
The rabbis taught that “If a man finds scattered money, it belongs to the finder” (Michael Green’s The Message of Matthew p. 159-160).
In both the parable of the Hidden Treasure and the parable of the Pearl of Great Worth, Jesus is saying here that it is worth sacrificing everything to gain entry to the Kingdom of heaven.
Jim Eliot , a missionary who was killed in South America in the 1950’s said:
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”
What is your goal in life
Is it to get to the top of your profession?
I’ve been there and got the tee shirt! I was a patent lawyer and Head of Department in a big multinational
And I really enjoyed it
But when God calls you to follow him in a different direction – are you willing to follow?
Jesus leaves us with the challenge – Do we seek God’s Kingdom above anything else in the world?
Is to live a Godly life our consuming passion – like the runner in the Olympics who is consumed to train so hard to win gold.
And the proof of our faith will come out in the way we live our lives.
Story: May I leave you with some words from the famous American colonial missionary to the Indians David Brainerd who died at the age of twenty-nine.
His diary reveals a young man intensely committed to God.
Brainerd once said to Jonathan Edwards:
“I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high seat or a low seat there.