Monday, August 8, 2011

Struggling with a Parable

Yesterday a parable in the Bible really confused me. And I’d like to share it with you, and hopefully get your views on it, because maybe I’m just approaching it from the wrong direction.

The parable in question is the Parable of the Hidden Treasure.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” (Matthew ch 13 v 44, NLT)

Now I can understand that the message of this, as with the Parable of the Pearl which follows it, is that the Kingdom of Heaven is so amazing, so precious, that those who find it want to give up everything they have to possess it. And I totally believe this. My issue with this verse is the deceptiveness of the man in it. It seems widely accepted that the current owner of the field is oblivious to the treasure, or he would not have left it buried there. So the man who finds it (often viewed as a labourer) discovers this thing of great wealth. Surely the ‘right’ thing to do would have been to take it to the owner and hope that the owner would reward him. In a modern legal setting (as far as I understand), such a treasure would be the property of the landowner, no matter who found it. But the man doesn’t do that, he deliberately hides the treasure again, goes off and sells all his possessions, buys the field and takes possession of the treasure.

Imagine how you would feel if you were the landowner and one of your workers pulled a stunt like that on you. You would be gutted, but also probably very annoyed, I know I would be.

So how does this fit with the treasure being the Kingdom of Heaven? Are we supposed to ignore the law and the moral right in the process of gaining it? Are we supposed to cheat others to get it? Are we supposed to hoard it for ourselves, like the farmer who built more barns to hold his grain (Luke ch 12 v 14-21). Somehow I think not. I think God would want us to find his treasure and share it with all that we come across. Time and time again we are told that we are the salt and the light. We are to be the lamp on the stand so that God’s love can be seen by all, not hidden under a bowl (or underground). So how does the deceptiveness of the man fit with all the other teachings of the Bible?

I’m not sure how to finish this, as it is basically a question. So please let me know what you think. Comment on here, on Facebook, on Twitter (@gingermethodist). Let me know if you think I have misread it. I’d love to know you’re opinion.