Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Look What I Found

Just a short post. Not much time this morning. Feel free to add to my anemic exegesis.

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.

The first thing that occurs to us is that the treasure is completely unmerited, or at least not tied in with any.

Rather, the man apparently stumbles upon this valuable find. It's as if he has won the lottery, except he didn't even know he had a ticket. This is unlike the pearl of great price, which the merchant was actively seeking.

All of salvation history, says Rutler, can be seen as "an account of how the bumbling and stumbling human race won the Great Lottery," for "grace is gratuitous."

This is something I was trying to impart to my son the other day. He is prone to moods in which he questions the existence of God, or proclaims the whole business to be stupid or made-up. I remind him that thus far he has grown up in a Christian context, both at school and at home (and socially), such that the graces that have come to him as a consequence may well be invisible to him.

I tell him to imagine different circumstances in which there would be no channels for these graces. As Rutler puts it, if we could see behind the veil, we would likely "be astonished at how many times holy grace dropped into our laps without recognizing it." We would see how entitled and how spoiled we had been.

There is the grace and the response to it. In the parable, the man responds to the unexpected grace by selling everything and buying the field. He presumably sells everything because in light of what he has discovered, everything amounts to nothing.

I give this claim No Pinocchios, because a de-spiritualized life is hardly worth living, especially after one has tasted the alternative. If one has never experienced the grace -- if one has shut it out, rather -- then the treasure won't even be recognized as valuable.

No doubt this is why God withdraws the grace from time to time, so we don't lose our perspective. If it were always there, we wouldn't notice it -- like my son.

"What is granted can easily be taken for granted, without the faintest amen."

Christians who have not lost their perspective do not pretend to be better than non-Christians. Rather, they just stumbled upon the treasure. And "once this sacred deposit of faith is discovered by the gift of grace, the stumbler buys the field."

9 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

He presumably sells everything because in light of what he has discovered, everything amounts to nothing.

I would even take this a bit further, inasmuch as if there truly is no God, then everything truly amounts to nothing. Many people try to convince themselves otherwise, or feeling the lack of a true God work feverishly to put a false one in His place, but if there is no God then literally nothing that anyone does about it matters.

No doubt this is why God withdraws the grace from time to time, so we don't lose our perspective. If it were always there, we wouldn't notice it

Just as fish, presumably, could not possibly grasp the quality of "wetness" even though that is the medium in which they live and have their being. Unless they take the occasional leap into the air. Or as I tell my kids, nobody has ever seen the wind. This does not mean it isn't there; its existence is demonstrated by the effect it has upon ourselves and the world around us.

Christians who have not lost their perspective do not pretend to be better than non-Christians.

If anything, it should make us more humble, not more superior. We know what we are, and are not.

6/07/2016 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And with fish and wetness in mind, trying to replace God with anything else is like a fish, finding itself on dry land, attempting to breathe by flinging itself into a pool of oil. Yes, oil is wet, but it is not water and the fish will drown there even more swiftly than it would in the air.

6/07/2016 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them."
- John Piper

6/07/2016 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - yes! And what a grace it is, those rare times we do become aware.

6/07/2016 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

He presumably sells everything because in light of what he has discovered, everything amounts to nothing.

I see Julie has already covered it and better, but just to emphasize: we learned in the parable of the wheat and the tares that the field is the world. We wonder sometimes about "God so loved the world". Without Christ, the world isn't worth much, but with Christ in it, it is worth everything -- even to the point that God gives His Only Begotten.

I am reminded of the old joke about the guy (probably a Scotsman) who dropped a quarter in the toilet after he had used it. There was no way he was going to stick his hand in for a quarter -- so he throws in something more valuable to make it worth the mess.

6/07/2016 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

I'm enjoying the recent posts related to the works of Rutler.

About a year ago I adopted George Rutler as my nonlocal pastor and subscribe to his weekly Parrish newsletter, which you may want to do as well. Link ->

http://www.stmichaelnyc.com/pastors-corner

The archive of his newsletters does not include the ones from the past 12 months, but from time to time I have appropriated whole ones or parts from the email subscription and posted them on my Tumblr. Link -> http://tail-feathers.tumblr.com/tagged/george-w.rutler

6/07/2016 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I stumbled upon it once (grace), and it transformed my marriage. I have not been able to communicate what it did and how it seemed to work to anyone, they hear "yada yada yada" and say "yeah, but...". It knocked me out of my scientistic mindset, when I realized there is much, much, an infinity unknown that world. So outside of the lab, how do you glean these things? Then I stumble upon things like "One Cosmos", Bible-reading, and so on, and discover there's a lot more going on than I imagined. I understand maybe (MAYBE) 50% of this blog, but that's probably a wild overestimation. So after my morning Drudge Report, if I think I can tackle it, One Cosmos is my go-to. Gracias.

6/08/2016 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Heh, look what Michio Kaku found in the numbers, Intelligent Design.

Sure, he strings it along a bit, but, if you take notice... eventually things begin to add up.

6/08/2016 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I seem to have lost the post I was working on & it's too late to start over, so nothing new for today.

6/08/2016 08:55:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home