Have your children stumped you lately with questions about faith? One of our Sunday School teachers was telling her pre-schoolers about Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion and had their undivided attention. When she finished the lesson and asked for questions, Michael’s hand shot into the air; the teacher was thrilled. “I just want to know one thing,” he said, “Where in the blue blazes were the State Police when all this was going on?
It is amazing where we sometimes find our hidden treasure! Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Have you already found your treasure? Sometimes it 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.
Philemon was a wealthy Christian of Colossae who hosted a church in his house. Philemon was converted under one of Paul’s trips to Asia. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back– not to mention that you owe me your very self. For Philemon, Paul was a pearl of great price. Now the message is very simple, Onesimus is a changed slave. Welcome him back as a buried treasure. Or a pearl that has become much more valuable. Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as a slave but as a “beloved brother”.
I had just turned 18 and my mother died. My sister and brother were already married and out of the home. When I made the decision to go and live with the McConnell family, I had to do something with the furnishings. So we had an estate sale. What was I to keep from my mother and my family? Some of her jewelry that I passed on to Brooks. A gun that had been given to me by my father that I gave to Jonathan. All of the family photos, except for that one of me naked in the crib, never did know what happened to that one.
Brooks this past week asked if she could get out the old camera. One of the things that I kept was my mothers camera from the turn of the century. We remarked how different the camera was but at the same time how timeless it was to. It has a viewer that “reflects” the picture being taken. Very similar to many cameras and camcorders today. My mind went back to being a boy and holding that camera and viewing the world through its lens.
Much of who I am, my mother instilled in me. My love of Christ was a gift from her. It is so easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects–education, building, missions, holding services… The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, the whole universe was created for any other purpose.
The writer of Ecclesiastes writes, Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. There is a blessing in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. For Paul, the blessing was that he knew Philemon would take Onesimus back into his family. Remember, Paul and Onesimus were very good friends.
There is also a command to share the good news of Jesus. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.
Ever wonder why we require people to stand before the church and acknowledge, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God….”? Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
The church is like manure. Pile it up, and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out, and it enriches the world.