What do you worship?
Woah. Tough question, right? Not exactly water cooler talk. But this is an important one. Maybe the most important. It might not be something you think about explicitly, but consider these questions: what’s your first thought when your head comes off the pillow? What do you delight in? What do you find yourself daydreaming about? What do you say, “If I only had ____, then I’d be happy” about? What are you most familiar with?
I’ll tell you what I’m not familiar with: sports. This truth was hammered home at a Super Bowl party earlier this year when I declared my support of Philadelphia, a team that not only wasn’t in the Super Bowl, but one that didn’t even make the playoffs. Apparently.
I don’t love football, I don’t worship it, so I know nothing about it. I may never be familiar with player’s stats or game-winning plays. But I’ll pause a Tarantino movie and dissect the cinematography, or spend hours perusing poetry and philosophy. We are familiar with what we worship, and we all worship something.
Jesus knew this, too. He was with his disciples and decided to school them in Worship 101, so he told them a little story:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
In this parable, Jesus highlights some helpful points about worship. First he shows us...
1. The Reality of Worship
Jesus gives us two men, a man in a field and a pearl merchant. Both find something incredibly valuable, but come about them in two different ways: one stumbles upon it and the other seeks it out. Here Jesus is saying, “Whether it finds its way into your life or you devote your whole life to it, you will worship something. That’s the reality.” But this whole worship thing is bigger than we think.
Next, he shows us...
2. The Design of Worship
Notice something funny about these two men? Maybe how happy they seem to give away their entire lives for something? Sounds like a drag, right? But Jesus is showing us that the design of worship is that we would worship something of great worth and, in return, receive joy. You see, joy is the indicator of the worth of the thing you worship. This raises another question: “Does the thing that’s at the center of my life bring me joy?”
Thirdly, Jesus shows us...
3. The Key to Worship
In oral culture, parables were creative teaching devices. They were basically illustrations that contained unexpected details to cause the listener to think. Jesus used them perfectly; what could be more unexpected than selling everything you own to buy one pearl?! The disciples probably thought they knew the end of the story… “found pearl, added it to stash, super rich.” Then Jesus drops the most unexpected key: you can only have one treasure.
How does this all add up? It can seem crazy, especially against the backdrop of modern, consumer-driven America. More is better, right? Not if you understand the worth of the one treasure. And it’s Jesus.
Jesus is worthy to be worshipped because only he can save us. Isn’t this the reason we worship anything? To be saved? We worship success to save us from the discomfort of not having enough. We worship relationships to save us from the painful reality of loneliness. And on and on. But the truth is, because of our sin, the only thing you and I can stumble upon or seek out for ourselves is death. We’re sick and we need a Physician. We need a Savior.
You can have Jesus, but you can’t have anything else in your hand. Treasure and pearls? No thanks, I’ll have the King.