I think we get a glimpse of the value of this exchange in two parables of Jesus–the hidden treasure in the field and the pearl of great price (See Matt.13:44-46).
It’s all about discovery, beauty, absolute passion and ultimate fulfillment. And it’s certainly about transformation into the life God meant for us.
To briefly summarize the last two parts, while your treasure is what you won’t do without, what you value most, what God values most and what He doesn’t want to do without is you.
The Kingdom is meant to be your treasure because you are HIS pearl of great price.
And I postulated that the reason we will struggle in our walk with Christ is because we haven’t found this true treasure and still don’t see that we’re His pearl of great price.
It’s an identity problem, not a behavioral one.
But knowing this takes revelation. So I think a good fairy tale is in order to help us see it.
What the Ugly Duckling can teach us
Of course, we all know the wonderful story, “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen. I think God can speak to us through this tale. To refresh your memory, you can read the whole story here.
To summarize, “the story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all.” (Wikipedia).
I would like to focus in on the ending of the story. This is the scene where, in final desperation, the ugly duckling approaches some swans in the water. As he approaches with fear and dread, he glances down at his reflection for the first time, making him both confused and delighted in what he sees.
“But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan.”
What happens next is transformational. Here’s what the children feeding the swans say when they see him approach…
“See,” cried the youngest, “there is a new one;” and the rest were delighted, and ran to their father and mother, dancing and clapping their hands, and shouting joyously, “There is another swan come; a new one has arrived.”
Then they threw more bread and cake into the water, and said, “The new one is the most beautiful of all; he is so young and pretty.” And the old swans bowed their heads before him.
Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
So what does this mean to us? I submit that this is depicting something like when we find the hidden treasure in the field and discover that we are God’s pearl of great price!
Furthermore, I submit to you that what most us have experienced thus far is an “ugly duckling” version of Christianity. It’s certainly not one that is transformational.
We’ve been living like ugly ducklings all our lives. Like this ugly duckling, we don’t know who we are.
You’ve tried to fit in the “duck” world, but it’s left you feeling ashamed, abused, starving for true love…and feeling ugly. You even joined an “ugly duck” church, but it, too, left you out in the cold like an orphan, starving on a steady diet of powerless religion.
But in your final desperation you happen upon this hidden place. And there, you finally gaze upon your true self in the water, and upon the beautiful scene before you. At first you hide in shame, yet you feel a euphoric sense of freedom and purpose for the first time in your life. It just sounds too good to be true…but yet, there it is before you. Every cell within you is resonating with absolute joy and pure love!
You’ve just discovered the treasure in the field that Jesus was talking about.
Who are the children and the swans? Precious one, this is your true heavenly family, for you have been adopted into the Royal House of God! A place of endless joy and love–where there is no lack, no sorrow, tears or disappointment.
And you know you will never be alone again, you will never again “not belong.” And you finally know in your deepest of hearts that you do matter.
This is where you see a reflection of your ultimate worth, for this reflection is God’s estimation of you. It is in this Kingdom where the Royal Family affirms your beauty, your infinite worth and destiny. For you are the most valued and desired of all His creation.
This is what happens when we finally see this hidden Kingdom through our “pearl” eyes! Our response is much like the transformed ugly duckling…
“Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
Transformation doesn’t come by our behavior but through identity and love
You see, your transformation is all about identity and love–seeing who you are through God’s eyes and living from the overflow of this Divine embrace.
Fleshly Christianity no longer has any relevance to you–living on the powerless treadmill of self-effort, sin-management and behavioral modification. Beloved, living by the law of moral restraint is for ugly ducklings who still haven’t found themselves in Christ (Col.2:20-23; Gal.3:24-25).
You are God’s most beautiful swan! You are His son, no longer a slave (Gal.4:1-7), no longer managed by the principles of this world.
For God does not coerce by His power; He compels with His love (See 2 Cor.5:14).
We are controlled by love, living from heaven, out of our true identity, while walking on this earth (Eph.2:6; Col.3:3; Phil.3:20).
Under grace, I’m not motivated by threat of punishment or fear, but only love.
There is literally nothing that is unlawful for me to do, but I would never dream of doing anything that would interfere with this Divine Exchange.
My heart becomes like God’s heart–I now see sin as a toxic poison to my soul instead of forbidden fruit. I’m no longer in bondage to trying to suppress my heart by willpower. My will and my desires are fully in sync. For I’m finally eating from the Tree of Life instead of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
My normal life experience is not to sin simply because it’s not profitable for me to do so, compared to the vast hidden treasure I have found in this place (1 Cor.6:12-17). For that’s what “ugly ducklings” do in their desperate attempt to counterfeit these affections that every heart longs for.
I am finally at rest because I now know who I am and I’ve been brought to the King’s heavenly banqueting table. And His banner over me is love! (Songs 2:4).
There is so much more I could say about this. This only scratches the surface. Some is in the book I’m writing. I will share more as time permits, But my prayer is that you find this treasure in the field, that you would open your heart to this Love. You are not an ugly duckling anymore, you are God’s most precious pearl, His beautiful swan!