A Pearl of Great Value
I cannot get enough of the Book of Revelation. I’ve always been fascinated by it but mostly I struggle to understand it. I’m assuming most of us would. There were times when I would be drawn to ponder the vivid and frightening imagery and try to make it fit within my worldview which unfortunately was influenced by the American “Left Behind” culture. To no one’s surprise, Revelation never did fit this formula. It refused to get in that box. Thank goodness. As my understanding of the full Biblical narrative has grown thanks to numerous authors and teachers, Revelation has grown only larger in my mind, speaking out a thunderous message, calling to all who will listen.
Having grown up in an evangelical atmosphere I fully understood the concept of Jesus as Saviour. As the one sent to rescue me from the bondage of sin. And even though this message would at times feel worn out by the familiarity of the language, I did essentially understand it. What I did not understand as fully was the concept of Jesus as reigning King. Sure I would read the words Jesus is Lord, but I didn’t really get it. I simply thought he was Lord of another realm that was entirely separate. Entirely other. A fresh understanding of Revelation gave me a fresh understanding of my King, Yeshua. I have written in the past of a veil, a barrier that keeps a larger reality hidden from the eyes of men. It is beyond this veil that John is given access, given vision. This is the purpose of Revelation, to pull back that veil. The reality that is layered upon ours, invisible to our eyes, barred by the cherubim, is not very far away. (Genesis 3.24)
One day, as I began reading through Revelation one more time, my eyes settled on the words of Jesus “But this I have against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2.4) These words rang out and somehow I knew they were true of me. I even wondered if I had ever had that love in the first place. My approach to faith was one of knowing, of logic, and I enjoyed defending it based on my desire to be right. Obviously there were deeper elements that were at work within me, but the head is where my faith lived out. The quote from Oswald Chambers that I have used in my writing before also jumped out at me at about this time: “Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus–not my love for Jesus Himself”. And then I would read the gospels and Jesus would say “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14.15) I could not deny it. I did not really love Christ. For how could I love someone that I envisioned as a distant entity? As more concept and not as the Son of Man who stands and speaks “I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1.18)
The veil pulled back in Revelation forced me to meet Jesus, not just in my thoughts about history, but as the living, breathing, Word. Suddenly I saw him everywhere, in every element of my daily life. In my sorrows, in my joys, in my ritual and routine. And he asked me “Will you finally sell everything to buy the pearl?” (Matthew 13.45-46) Fast forward to Revelation 21. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared…I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” “No longer will anything be cursed. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there-no need for lamps or sun-for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22.3-5) If this is the pearl that Jesus refers to then what a fool I would be to reject it! There are no half-measures in this. If I am accepting Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus Lord over all creation then his mind must become my mind. His heart my heart. His vision, my vision. Always. In everything. Now so many things that seemed to matter so much, now matter very little, and the reality of a living, breathing, reigning Christ that was once obscure has come into focus.
Every day that I wake, I put this pearl in my pocket, fix my thoughts on the King who won it and step out to seek all its righteousness. And what is the righteousness of the Kingdom? It is found everywhere. As A.W. Tozer puts it “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” Even if the ministry God has called me to is not official or formal it matters not. If I do anything out of my love for Christ, it is ministry.