Where is Your Treasure

August 11, 2019

Summary

As humans we love the idea of treasure, don’t we?

I know when I hear the word ‘treasure’ what comes to mind is a cask of jewels buried by pirates in the sand on a deserted island in the Caribbean.  A treasure that can only be found by following the instructions on a moth-eaten map rolled up into a scroll and digging at the spot marked with an ‘X’.

But of course there are many different ways of thinking of treasure.  Most nations have a national treasury.  For some countries it is the place in which is held the gold of the country, like Fort Knox in the United States, and for others it is the place where the Crown Jewels are kept, like the Tower of London in the United Kingdom, or here in Norway at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, both of which I have had the chance to view, but haven’t paid the money to do so.  Some treasures are not worth spending your own treasure to go and see! 

For others, the word treasure might conjure up the image of the antique furniture first purchased by their great-great-grandmother, that has been handed down to them through the family.  Or perhaps it is the brand new Ferrari sports car in which they rumble through the streets of Oslo, or the sailing boat bobbing in the harbor, or a collection of fine art hanging upon a wall, or signed baseball cards, or shelves of video games, or bank accounts and investment portfolios.  

In reality, to each individual, the word treasure will bring something different to mind.

There is not one definition of treasure, although quite often the monetary value of the ‘treasured’ item or collection or account, is part of what defines it as a treasure to a person.

You see, what usually defines something as a treasure rather than simply being an expensive object or a gathering of wealth is that it means something to the owner, to the beholder of the thing.  In fact most often the treasure actually has a hold over the owner, as in their life, their time, their priorities, and their heart. 

Up to this point though, you’ll notice that I have only spoken of physical treasures, while many of you have also been thinking of experiences, causes or beliefs that are also treasures in your lives.  Yes, treasures do not have to be objects.  We can also make treasures of our political beliefs, our physical images, our careers, or our favorite causes.  We can make a treasure out of most anything.

What we hold as treasure in our life, is something that takes up a lot of our time, our energy, our passion, our money, it can take up our lives.  Our treasures, whatever they might be, are treasures for us because they are important in our lives.

The broad spectrum of treasures that I have named really hits upon the focus of Jesus’ teaching from today’s scripture.  Yet rather than speaking of earthly treasures, Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven.  He is not speaking of earthly treasures that can be eaten up by moths, or stolen by thieves, rather Jesus is speaking of God’s gift of inclusion into his presence, through his gift of salvation.

Jesus knows that this is the real treasure that we need in our lives, and it is the treasure that he wants to give, and does give to all who believe.  Jesus’s gift is the greatest treasure one can hold, and yet, because it is not physical, because it is not worth money, because it is not able to be bought, sold, or dug-up on a deserted island, it is too often overlooked.  Even we, who know the worth of this treasure, end up debasing it, or setting it aside as we concentrate upon some other treasure.  So, if even we, God’s people can put other treasure in its place, no wonder others have a hard time understanding the Kingdom of Heaven’s incomparable worth.

It reminds me of a scene from a movie entitled, “Good Company”.  The movie centers upon two characters; a father, getting on in age, who works in advertising for a sports magazine that is bought up by a multi-national corporation, and a young man who works for the corporation.  In the movie the corporation wants the magazine to produce greater revenue no matter what, and so it sends in a team of young, eager money makers to revamp the magazines image and produce money.  The young man who supplants the father as head of advertising is all about making money, and so in polishing an image of himself that shows his success and wealth.  The father values relationships, with his family, his co-workers and his clients.  Obviously the two men treasure different things. For example, upon receiving a promotion the young man heads to the Porsche dealer and buys himself a brand-new car.  As he sits down in the car to drive away, the movie shows the man looking at his cool sun-glasses in the rear-view mirror, and then gunning the engine to squeal out onto the street, where he promptly stops…because he has crashed into a car driving by.  His image is deflated, his earthly treasure is marred, and the movie proceeds to show the young man’s life lose its meaning as he continues to chase the worlds’ treasures.  In contrast the father, though he is reeling from his demotion, and as he struggles with other obstacles, he concentrates upon relationships with his family, his remaining clients, and even his new co-workers, like the vain young man. It is not until the young man starts to see that his relationships in life are more important than the monetary wealth that he has been seeking, that he starts to find some happiness.

It is not what you would call a “Christian” movie, but it makes the point very well, that earthly treasures, when they are the focus of your life do not make you happy or fulfilled.  Rather, as Jesus points out, our true treasure comes from heaven, and it can never be used up, meaning our place in God’s Kingdom, our salvation from our sins, given us by God’s never ending grace is eternal.  Jesus’ love for us won’t be crushed like the Porsche, or disappear like a stock-market portfolio during a crash.  It is given to us forever.

Yet, unlike a Porsche or the numbers in  a stock-market portfolio, the treasure that we find in God’s Kingdom cannot be seen, or driven or spent.  Our treasure is found within our faith.  We heard at the beginning of the reading from Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Our treasure is present in our faith.  In our faith we are assured of Jesus’ gift of love and life forever in God’s kingdom as God’s beloved child.  In our faith we are convinced that this gift of the kingdom is worth more than any other treasure on earth or in time and so we treasure it, we value it beyond measure.

But, as with all gifts the Lord gives, our treasure is not to be hidden away or guarded selfishly, but rather it is to be given.  It is to be lived out, in and through our lives, so that the world may discover value and be changed by this treasure as well.

Our treasure should not have to be searched for in our lives, or be found by following a map to its buried location, deep, down in our faith.  No, our treasure, meaning a joyous life of love lived as Jesus’ disciple, should be apparent for all to see, experience and know.

Don’t guard your treasure, give it away!

Amen.

Bible References

  • Hebrews 11:1 - 3
  • Hebrews 11:8 - 16
  • Luke 12:32 - 40

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