“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.
These two stories paint the picture of people who give up everything when they find something. That something for us is the kingdom of heaven, which is the rule and reign of God in our lives. When we find the kingdom of heaven, it is only natural to give up everything for it. It costs us all, but we get to be fully under the care of the King.
To be the King's subjects, it will cost us everything. That is the cost, everything. It is not a fee or a percentage, like a membership or add-on. And it is not like a new full-time job. It is a new life.
After being a Christian for years or decades, God will come calling, and ask us to give up everything again. Do you want the pearl? Do you want the treasure? Then it will cost you everything. This call from God is not just for new believers.
The King can come at any time and ask you to give up everything, and why wouldn't you, if you could see what he offers.
These parables are not about salvation, because the cost of salvation is faith. To enter the kingdom, it only takes faith. There is no self sacrifice. You enter the kingdom and get salvation with all your problems. Like the song says you, "come just as you are". You don't have to get cleaned up. When you enter the kingdom, you begin a relationship with the cleaner upper.
These parables are about finding the kingdom. The kingdom will cost you everything.
If you are unwilling to pay the cost, you can still be a Christian, but you will be missing God's best for you.
It is interesting that the treasure and the pearl are hidden. Only the man looking for them finds them. They are not in plain sight to all. When Jesus was born, the wise men sought him out and found him.
God has an inheritance in the kingdom, for every Christian. To obtain it, there is a cost, and maybe some excavation will be involved. But it is worth it.
There in and irony that in the liminal place where Christians and the kingdom meet, that there would be the Christian who would refuse the kingdom or refuse their inheritance. There was no question for the men in the parables about selling everything to get the field with the treasure or to buy the pearl. It was a no brainer, a good deal, in fact; a steal. They decisively went for it.
So, why would any Christian today, hesitate to surrender their whole lives, give up everything to follow Jesus? This is what Dallas Willard wrote about this in, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 293:
And one of the things that has obstructed the path to discipleship in our Christian culture today is the idea that it will be terribly difficult thing that will certainly ruin your life. A typical and often-told story in Christian circles is of those who have refused to surrender their lives to God for fear he would "send them to Africa as missionaries."If we don't have an epiphany and get it, if we don't see the priceless value of Jesus, of the invitation to walk with him; then we can not understand him and learn from him. If we do see and get it, then we will be like the men in these parables and decisively sell all for the treasure filled field or the priceless pearl. When we are afraid he will send us to Africa, China, or the inner city; we simply don't see, we don't get it, and we are not able to count the cost. We need a moment us clarity: "open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you".
And here is the whole point of the much misunderstood teaching of Luke 14. There Jesus famously says one must "hate" all their family members and their own life also, must take up their cross, and must forsake all they own, or they "cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27, 33). The entire point of this passage is that if one thinks anything may really be more valuable than fellowship with Jesus in his kingdom, one cannot learn from him.
Jesus will show you your inheritance that you will gladly give up everything for, if you will just ask him to. God will give you the grace to see and to decisively act.