The Real Treasure (30 July 2017)

Treasure in a field

Bible reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The question is “what hope is there in a world so determined to go its own way into darkness and brokenness?”

The answer is that a little bit of God goes a long way. There is a treasure still there to be found, of value beyond words. It is available to every person on planet Earth no matter how broken or lost they are.

They are the short parables of the mustard seed, the yeast, the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price.

The parable of the fishing net explains something else that we will meet before we’re done.

The key to my message this morning is hope, but not a casual passive hope; rather an invigorating, challenging hope that reaches far beyond ourselves.

I want to start by assuring you that you’re not crazy. Does that you feel better? You know there are plenty of people who consider you crazy if not dangerous for still believing in God, and giving up your Sundays and who knows how much other time, energy and money on your crazy God delusion.

I want to assure you that it has always been like that to a certain extent – that there are few who truly believe, and choose to truly put their lives into God’s hands. But history and truth are on your side. There are too many amazing stories of God’s activity in this world to dismiss it as madness. And when the people of God get their act together, church is not only the best place in the world to be, but is also the greatest hope this world has for a better day.

When the church is at its best it is saturated with the love of God, abounding in grace and acceptance for the brokenness of people, and is the most hopeful place on earth for transformation into freedom from sin.

Quite literally, the church is the hope of the world, though the world doesn’t want to know it. But it is only so if we get past our own brokenness into that freedom and grace that only God can bring. This is not something we can do on our own, not something we can manage like a business, or bake like an apple pie.

This is something we can only do as we allow God to saturate us, and we choose to live our lives seeking to follow Jesus and obey what he taught. With this, the church is the one great hope for humanity.

Believe it or not, this in turn makes the church an attractive place to be. People are loved and treated graciously; we pray for one another; we encourage one another; we look toward God for forgiveness, restoration and life – the church becomes the most gloriously positive, invigorating place around.

No doubt you’ve heard it said of the person who complained that they had looked everywhere but couldn’t find the perfect church – the person to whom they complained responded and said, “If you ever find it, please don’t join it.” But the perfect church doesn’t exist because it contains faulty people – redeemed, forgiven, gifted, called, empowered, but still faulty. If you attract more people you attract more faults – it’s simple, isn’t it? More people, more faults.

And here is the parable of the fishing net – among those it attracts will be those who are seeking comfort for their needs but have no real interest in God.

Church is a messy business, but then I suppose the world is messier still. But in a place where the life of God is sought and found, the messiness is perhaps more of a trap. We don’t want to make laws to protect ourselves, because that doesn’t work. But we don’t want church subverted by individual agendas either.

Somehow in the mess we need to keep ourselves pointed towards the one true hope that doesn’t disappoint, which is Jesus.

Perhaps don’t worry so much about the brokenness of the world – focus on being right with God, filled with the Holy Spirit which is to be filled with the life of God. And endeavor to live so that the world gets a taste of God from you.

Perhaps don’t worry so much about the brokenness of our church – focus on being right with God, filled with the Holy Spirit which is to be filled with the life of God. And endeavor to live so that this church, and all who sail in her, will get a taste of God from you, and perhaps turn to God and become the same.

Who can make this happen? I cannot, and you cannot. Only the Spirit of God can manage such a heaven on earth, and even then only as we, one person at a time, give ourselves into God’s hands and look to God for the real life.

This is not a timid thing, nor a thing to hide in the closet. This is who we truly are as church together – the people of God in this time and place.

This too is why I want to ask you – if you’ve not been baptised and you desire to follow Jesus, will you come and be baptised as a sign of whose you are?

If you’ve been baptised as a child but not publicly confirmed your baptism, will you come and do that to show everyone that you belong to Jesus?

We need to know. The world needs to know. We need to bring our faith out of the closet and let it be seen – first by one another, then by those who come and join us, and also to the world. This Jesus is their true hope, just as he is our true hope. The difference is that we know it.

Let’s work with God to make this place the taste of heaven it should be.

If you would like to talk about baptism or confirmation of your baptism, I would love to have that conversation. But for now, let’s pray.