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Pearls of Great Price
By Rachelle Hamlin
Fort Fairfield Journal, Fort Fairfield Journal, June 12, 2013It's a principle that God is good. Apply that principle in situations and it takes on many meanings. Say a woman prays for a child of her own and over time becomes pregnant, then births a healthy child. She'll see God's goodness every time she looks at her child. An artist might apply the same principle of God's goodness to his detailed paintings.
I saw a masterful painting in a museum depicting an elderly father in lavish surroundings kneeling beside his dying son's bed in prayer as a physician stood by helpless to save the son. All three appeared to be seized by frightened hopefulness. I stared at this painting, where so much lay in the balance for these three men, until I saw the main thing to know; God is good. I felt the son's life would be spared, and all three men would rise rejoicing from the tense scene the artist had captured so well. They were entirely dependent on the mercies of a good God.
Some Christians approach the Bible without considering that it's a book in which great principles underlie many surface meanings or that many meanings can arise from its clearly stated principles. Because one verse of scripture says that no verse ought to be subject to private interpretation, some people give that verse only one possible meaning. "No one is allowed to interpret scripture on their own; only an expert can do that for you," they say.
The whole Bible is approached by some readers as if it's carved in stone with dead, immoveable words that have only one possible meaning. But we should recognize that some scriptures will state a clear principle while others express ways to understand a principle by seeing its meaning. This way holy flexibility comes into Bible reading and understanding flows like the promised springs of living water.
We see this in the gospels, particularly in the instances where Jesus answered the question about what the Kingdom of God is like. The Kingdom of God is like a farmer... a grain of mustard seed... a treasure buried in a field. Since the principle here is God's supremacy the meanings are as infinite as He is. No wonder a torrent of separate images flowed from the Lord as he taught the disciples about his kingdom.
One of His images is of a pearl of great price. A man sold everything he had to obtain one pearl for himself. This sometimes means that Jesus, although enjoying his place in the Godhead, became a man so he could
obtain mankind for Himself and that shows us how much we are loved by God. At other times it means that somewhere in this world there is a way for everyone to find out about Jesus. He is the pearl of great price, and we are the ones who should sell everything we own if need be so we can obtain the one thing with enduring value, Jesus Christ.
There is another meaning that men and women who have become suns and shields might want to consider. I happen to think that both common views of the valuable pearl are correct and valid meanings. I also find another valid meaning when these two realities join together in practical life.
Jesus came to get us and we'd give anything to get him. But once we do, we become like him. Something happens inside our minds and hearts. We start to feel and think as he does. Then this concept, of a pearl that is worth losing all you have in order to get it, takes on new meaning. We discover that after Jesus got us and we got him, his thirst for souls makes us thirst for souls also. We discover that the loving value Jesus places on each individual soul is the same loving value that we are placing on another's soul. To us they become pearls of great price. This change is gradual but it's entirely consistent with the principle of a Supreme Being whose very nature is Divine Love.
In practice we can get confused. We may wonder why we seem to get unusually interested in a friend, family member or co-worker. We (or others) may even label it as an obsession. Obsessions are "bad," aren't they? No, only if they turn into something bad. Jesus is obsessed with loving us, only it's called "consumed." His is obsession taken to its extreme conclusion when he loses his own life so that he can win us for himself.
We easily expect such behavior from Jesus, but we can scarcely wrap our mind around the idea that we too can have a consuming passion for souls that is constructive only, and caries no seeds of self-destruction or harm to others in it. We only have to reflect on the long, glorious life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta to realize that it is possible to give of ourselves for the benefit of someone else's soul. Mother Teresa gave meaning to this third interpretation of the pearl parable. You and I must forge our own meaning as we go forward with our lives. Whether we get deeply involved or somewhat committed to someone in particular, we need to relax, trust God and do the good we can do. If it's a lot of good, praise God! If it's not much good, praise God! We are cooperating with Divine Love which is the active, underlying principle of all
life! If we fall flat on our face trying, let's not be too harsh on ourselves; there is a learning curve. Even Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered. Misunderstood? Lose friends? Costs you something you wanted? Spit on by an ingrate? Rejoice! You are now in Heaven's good company andGod is good. That's the principle.
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