It’s December, one of my favorite months because it is the Christmas season! All this month we are all pretty much counting down the days until the big 25 – Christmas morning – when people all around the world will share presents with one another. Every year as a child I would, of course, make my Christmas list with all the assorted things I wanted. When December 24th came I used to lie awake in bed wondering, “What on my list did I get? Did I get it all!?? Did I at least get that one thing I REALLY wanted?” I became consumed with what I treasured.
I wasn’t much different than Ralphie Parker from the classic Christmas film “A Christmas Story.” The film tells the story of Ralphie’s quest to acquire what he calls, “the holy grail of Christmas gifts, the Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle.” For the entire movie Ralphie fantasizes about this bb gun, and how he could convince his parents to get him one for Christmas. He tells his mother, the mall Santa, and even writes a theme paper about it for his teacher. But they all respond firmly, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” But nothing deterred Ralphie from pursuing what he valued most. So what am I getting at here?
Like Ralphie, we passionately pursue the thing we value most. Do you recognize Jesus as supremely valuable, precious, and worthy of worship? In Matthew 13:44-46 Jesus tells us “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.”
The man in this parable cherishes his newfound treasure so much that it says he sells all he has to buy the field. In his joy he sacrifices all else to have that treasure. Notice that Jesus says joy – not greed, not selfishness. In his joy for what he has found he sells all he has to possess this single treasure. The treasure that Jesus is referring to is the Kingdom of Heaven, or even more simply put, it is Christ himself. Our hope for life in the Kingdom of Heaven is through faith and trust in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ – the King of kings. Our relationship with Jesus and the certainty of eternal life with him is the treasure that brings us lasting joy.
Jesus tells this parable so that the crowd he was speaking to and we today could know the insurmountable value and worth of Christ. There is nothing we could possibly possess that would bring us the hope, joy, peace, comfort, and satisfaction of knowing Christ as our Savior and Lord. It’s easy for imperfect people like ourselves to lose sight of the prize before us. That’s why we have seasons like Advent and Christmas, Passion Week and Easter that reorient our focus on what is truly precious. And we have the Scriptures – the Word of God given to us by God himself – to remind us that we are so valued by God that the Father sent His Son to come to earth to die in our place and rise from the grave, thereby ensuring eternal life to those who trust him. God loves us so much that He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. He gave us His Spirit so that we can be changed from the inside out to look more Christ.
All that Ralphie thought of and sought after was his Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Nothing else was worth his time or his affection. Not tinker toys, not a football. His desires are obviously childish, but think about the desires of your heart. How valuable is God to you? Does your devotion to Christ exceed the desire for worldly “treasures”? My hope is that we will keep our eyes set on the incomparable treasure of knowing Jesus Christ. As Paul says, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).