Last Saturday I started really working on the yard at our house. We had done a little here and a little there, mainly to clean up from construction that had been going on when we moved in last December. Last Saturday was my first real chance to work on it since I had been back. We planted a food garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, and scuma wiki a local type of collard green. We dug a new trash pit, started a compost pile for the garden, and I built a sand box for Derrick and his friends. With all of this work I had gone out the day before to get a shovel. I had two choices, the 5,000/= (Tanzanian Shillings) one and the 10,000/= one. Being the rich missionary that I am, I took the 5,000/= shovel. And don’t you know that it started to break the very first day I used it.
I have done enough outdoor sports to know that in some parts of life you get what you pay for. Apparently that works in the case of shovels too, and probably many other things. We can normally tell the value of something based on how it is priced, assuming that the price is coming from the cost of materials which are based on the quality, etc. etc. So how does that match up with the story Jesus tells in Matthew 13:44. A man found a treasure in a field. Hid the treasure again, went and sold everything he had, and bought the field. He really wanted that treasure. I can only imagine a man clearing out his house, selling all the old comic books, and finally going out, finding a cardboard box, taking his clothes and selling them outside Wal-Mart (or the local open air market) to the highest bidder. He really wants that treasure. Jesus opens that verse with saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”
Is this what the kingdom of heaven is like for us? Is it worth everything, I mean everything, kila kitu? Is the value worth the price? Is the kingdom of heaven the 10,000/= shovel or is it the 5,000/= shovel and we save the extra 5,000/= for the big screen TV that makes the football uniforms look that much clearer on game day? How do our actions reflect our priorities?
Last week I got to start teaching a group of church leaders about the basic purpose of a church and the leadership qualities that make good church leaders. It was a great time to be with these guys, because they really seem to get it. This church started in Randa, right next to the road, in a great location. Then the government came by and said that they had built the church (sticks and mud) in the right-of-way and would have to move it. They took it down and rebuilt it in a field given to them by an older women in the village who use to travel around and speak at revivals. They finished the new church when a relative showed up and said they couldn’t build there without his permission. It went to the village government and the church lost. They took the building down again and moved it to a third field even further from the road and started on the third building, which is where we sat last week to talk about being a church. Far from being discouraged they are excited about the idea that this building will stick, that this field will be the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven for people in the village of Randa. They are willing to put all their effort into building the church up, and in the process three church buildings :).
I preached this verse last Sunday at a church in Ingrichini that was losing hope. I reiterated that God does not want us only on Sundays and only a little of what we have, but all of it. Everything. I also contributed two bags of cement to the finishing of their church building. The congregation pledged to complete the remaining 500 bricks they need for the church by the end of next week. We are all giving what we have to build God’s kingdom. Some pledged to make bricks, others pledged to visit their neighbors and continuing building the community that will fill this finished building.
We are marvelous about justifying what we hold back from God. I, in working for the church, am probably one of the best. However, in my recent studies of John Wesley’s idea of Holiness of Heart and Life, I am learning again what it means to give everything for the Kingdom of God, even if it includes the shirt off my back.
“Usiende kanisani. Kuwa Kanisa. Don’t go to church. Be the Church.”