For many years we lived in the country of Jordan, which is 95% Muslim and 5% Christian. My Arabic teacher, Ahmed, had heard the gospel many times, as he was a Muslim raised in a Christian environment, and he loved Jesus. Every Monday he would tell me how he spent his entire Sunday off, reading the New Testament, and he once told me that the nails were not powerful enough to hold Jesus to the cross. “It was love for us,” he said, “that kept him there.”

When our son was ready to be baptized, I begged Ahmed to go down to the Jordan River with us so that I could baptize him, but he refused stating that it was impossible. He claimed that, if he were to take that step, the Muslims might kill his wife and children. Nothing like that had ever happened before in Jordan, and it was an irrational fear, but he couldn’t be persuaded. As I have thought about it, I have realized that Ahmed’s relationship to Jesus is very, very common. He loved Jesus, but there was a limit to how far he will go for him.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a pearl so valuable that a merchant sold everything that he had to own it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:46-47

Just as the merchant was out looking for fine pearls, many people are on the lookout for truth. The cost of the Truth, though, is everything. Like many others, Ahmed found what he was looking for, but he couldn’t pull the trigger and purchase the truth by giving up all that he had. We like to say that salvation is free, but that is only in the sense that you can’t buy it with good works or through religious activity. Look again at the verse. The kingdom of heaven costs you everything.

Loving Jesus isn’t enough. The church is full of many people who love and want the pearl. They may visit the pearl every day and may talk to it and sing to it, but they don’t own the pearl, they don’t have the kingdom of heaven, until they give up everything.

“In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33

At the same time, there are those in the church who have done it—who have given up everything to own the kingdom. They also enjoy the pearl every day, they talk to it and sing to it, but they have it in their hands and it will never be taken away from them.

Main point: Loving the church, Jesus or religion, is not enough. The kingdom of heaven costs everything.

So what: Satan is a total liar. Don’t listen to the fears that he puts in your heart the way that Ahmed did. The pearl is worth everything.