Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Prize Inside

It's the 50's, and my brother and I were off to the news stand to buy some packs of baseball cards! We always hoped to find a superstar to add to our enormous collection of gum-scented players. One day I hit the jackpot! Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra were there in the same pack! Hard to believe, but true. What a find! Life was very good that day! But eventually and sadly the Mickey and Yogi cards were, like the gum, tossed out, and so there went what would have become a fortune in collectibles! In time, all of the cards, the gum and even the players were seen as perishable as well as the joy attached to them.

Yet there is a prize with an eternal shelf life and whose joy never fades. Shelf is the wrong word, for nothing of eternal value belongs on any shelf. Biblical examples abound that illustrate contained treasure: the man who bought property knowing that treasure lay buried somewhere on the premises; the woman who thoroughly cleaned the house to recover a valuable lost coin; the value of leaven as it raises the bread; the buried corn of wheat bringing forth a harvest; or the tiny mustard seed yielding a thousand fold.

More valuable than crops, money and abundance is the prized treasure God gives. And it is contained within believers. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (II Cor. 4:6,7)

The valued treasure is the implanted nature of God, purchased and secured by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are decaying vessels containing invaluable treasure, the very nature and mind of Christ empowering the believer and awakening him to the work of God. What a discovery awaits us! We go about our days not as card-holding Christians who show up at meetings, but as those experiencing the ongoing work of our sovereign God, His daily conforming us to Christ. All events of our day are designed to bring to the surface that treasure within, the very person of Jesus Christ himself.

What a find! What a friend, and what a gift!

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