Digging for Treasure
Anyperson had taken over an allotment which hadn’t been used for some time. A lot of digging was involved, clearing the weeds and preparing the soil for planting. One day, Anyperson struck something hard. Further investigation revealed a huge amount of treasure. It wasn’t particularly old, but someone had evidently buried it here and forgotten it. But Anyperson was only renting the allotment. Should they buy the allotments, and then the treasure would belong to them? Anyperson went home: buying the allotments would mean selling everything they had – but they would have the treasure. Anyperson looked around their home, which was precious to them. Some furniture brought back memories, other bits had belonged to family or friends. Some possessions were favourites that Anyperson loved, and had worked hard to buy. Anyperson looked at all they owned. They saw how much they would lose by selling everything: home, security, reputation (what would people think of them for selling all they had?); the possibility of losing friends; their vision of who they were. Selling everything to possess the treasure just wasn’t worth it.
Yet in Matthew 13 that is exactly what happens. Treasure is found in a field, and the finder covers it up, sold everything he possessed and bought the field. Obviously, nowadays there are laws covering this sort of find, and covering the treasure up and buying the finding place probably doesn’t adhere to them. But that is to miss the point of the parable. Jesus isn’t advising us as to what to do if we actually find treasure hidden in a field. He is saying that this is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like (bear in mind that Matthew uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven instead of Kingdom of God, and don’t get fixated on the word heaven, as commonly understood nowadays. This isn’t about where we go when we die).
If we were to find the treasure of the Kingdom, how much would we be willing to give up to become part of it? How many of our possessions would we let go? How do we interpret possessions? It may be that we can give up material possessions, but our actual ‘treasure’ is not material, but related to our inner selves. Are there aspects of ourselves that we are proud of, things that we worry about? Would we let go of our health or our social standing, or maybe well-loved views on religion or politics or our neighbours? Are we willing to risk ourselves?
These are not questions with any right or wrong answer. As with so much of the spiritual life, it is a journey, not a place we get to, and I suspect it is a question that we keep coming back to throughout our lives. Moreover, God is not necessarily asking us to give up these things: we need homes and food; we all have differing views, and there is nothing wrong with having possessions that we hold onto for whatever reason.
Yet – where our treasure is, there will our heart be also (Matthew 6:21). It may be worth pondering what the treasure of the kingdom really is, and how much we are prepared to give up, if necessary, for it. Anyperson wasn’t prepared to give up everything they possessed in order to own the treasure they found. But what would the reaction have been if that treasure really had been the kingdom? What is yours?