I often heard people say that you can’t buy your salvation and while that is true it is also somewhat inaccurate. Jesus put a price on the kingdom of heaven when He gave us two parables to describe what it is like.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
There’s a legitimate point that my parents and other elders had and I get it. But my economic training tells me that we have to qualify that statement. While you can’t buy heaven you can put a price on it. I know. I need to explain.
There are two economic principles that we need to consider. First, the Subjective Theory of Value says that something is only worth what a customer is willing to pay for it. It has no objective price that applies to everyone.
The next economic principle is opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of a resource is the next-most-valued use of that resource. For example, you are spending your valuable time reading this blog when you could be doing something else. Whatever you could be doing is your opportunity cost. Since you’re still reading this that tells me that your alternative options are not more valuable to you, at least not at the moment.
We now see some things in Jesus’ parables that weren’t apparent at first glance. When the man found the treasure he sold everything he owned to buy the field. He was also willing to give up any alternative use of his time and the field to acquire that treasure.
The same is true for the merchant who found valuable pearls. He was willing to part with everything he owned to get that pearl.
How many stories can you think of about people who take drastic measures to pursue a dream? There’s Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, etc. They all were on the verge of financial ruin, some even bankrupt, at one point but they took big risks to succeed.
There’s no doubt about their commitment. If we can risk it all for something as fleeting as business then we can see the value in the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Jesus is clear: in exchange for the kingdom He wants all that you have.
Jesus said that those who look back when they put their hand to the plow are not fit for His kingdom (Lk 9:62). For those people the opportunity cost is greater than following our Lord so they prefer the alternative. He wants followers who prefer the kingdom more than anything.
If someone looked at your bank account would they see that your priority is the kingdom? How about if they looked at your schedule? What’s the kingdom worth to you and is it obvious to anyone?
Jesus wants disciples who’ve decided to follow Him, no turning back. The cross is always in front and the world is always behind them. Even though none go with them they still will follow. No turning back, no turning back.