Have you ever found something in the store that excited you and you immediately decided to buy it? It might have been a new kind of candy when you were a child or that stylish car the dealer sold you on a few months ago. Have you ever bit into the candy bar to find that it tasted horrible? Maybe after driving the car for a few months the engine gave out or it started producing a strange smell. Excitement can be fun but it can cause someone to make bad investments when no thought is put into it.
In Matthew 13:44-50, God tells a story of people who made bad investment decisions. The buyers in this story were in the midst of making an emotional decisions. The farmer has a farm and a good source of income. He sells that source of income to buy a field with a small buried treasure. The merchant has probably made many lucrative deals that have given him stable income over the years. He finds one really valuable pearl and sells all he has to get it. None of this makes any sense and seems like the actions of a drunken lunatic. The story following this is the story of God final assessment of people who are good and bad. Those who have listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance will be allowed into Heaven and any one who fully rejects God’s guidances towards righteousness and love will be cast away.
Traditionally the two buyers are people who find Jesus and give up everything to follow Him. This is not what Jesus is teaching. If you read the passage closely, the two buyers are God doing everything to bring His people to Him to a point that most would consider a fault. God is putting full investment into humanity. These two stories show God would blindly squander everything to bring in all of humanity, even though humanity has let Him down and God probably invest in something with more return for what He has put into it. Jesus in the end put His life on a cross to retrieve humanity. This was the fullest investment any human could have made. Before we assume that God is foolish, think about how much love and grace goes into this kind of investment. God is not investing for His own gain. He is instead investing simple for our benefit. Much like the prophet Hosea and his prostitute wife, this causes God to forego many offenses while He is reaching out to us and pulling us towards Him.
The last story is about God doing away with evil. The sad reality is that there will be people who choose to defy God and go against Him. God has already made the investment and purchased humanity. It is His. However, he still allows humans to choose their destination. His purchasing gives us a way to salvation, but we still have to follow the path He paved for us. Jesus is speaking about all of humanity here. He is even speaking about people who have been baptized and claim Jesus as their savior, yet they still take part in greed, hate, and violence. God is in the business of create a shalom filled earth. So he has drawn a line. The ones who want peace and wholeness in the world on one side and the people who want only things for themselves and could care less about peace on the other. Which reality are you choosing, one of God’s peace and justice or on centered on what you can gain for yourself. It is your choice, but what you choos for your lifestyle defines your eternity.