Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! – Jesus (Matthew)
Over the past 3 years, we have been out into our neighbourhood, shamelessly sharing Jesus with whoever would listen. We’ve shared on almost a weekly basis, on the streets of our local Sydney village where during the height of summer, some 40,000 visitors from all over Sydney pour in each weekend. We have spoken to people of many different races, faiths, genders and persuasions. In amongst it all, we have spoken to many church goers as well.
At times, we have been able to spend several hours in discussion about Jesus to people who are genuinely interested in what Jesus has to offer. That in itself is reward for the effort. But on the whole, we were reflecting last night in a festival gathering, about how hard it has been. The festival gathering is for a whole group of people across Sydney who are out in their communities, trying to make disciples. Considering the prayer, the effort that goes on, really the fruit is sparse. You wouldn’t know we were out there.
At this moment in our lives, we have a few people; one, an addict, just out of detox was offered prayer and a laying on of hands by a group of believers, but rejected it. All along, he has shunned a relationship with Christ, preferring instead to ‘find peace within himself.’ Only one is ever going to free him from his addiction. Another woman, baptised and half committed to Christ keeps coming back to ‘there must be more than one God’ and in doing so misses out on the relationship Jesus offers. Her salvation is certainly not guaranteed. I could go on with literally dozens of examples.
What has happened?
We live in a society where we have received the benefits of adhering to Christian values, and having a basic Christian foundation. As a society though, we have kicked out the God who provided us with those benefits, but the residual lives on. God still ‘lives on’ at least for now, in the fabric of our society. But it won’t last, eventually God will withdraw entirely as people pursue every God but the one true God, found alone in his Son, Jesus Christ.
The church with all its glorious traditions is certainly another aspect; it refuses to break out of its four walls, change from its patently un-Biblical structure, stop worshipping money and status (as the world around it does) and go on perpetrating the lie that Jesus will save you, even if you don’t make him Lord. It is this lie, above everything else, that has caused many in our society to think that it doesn’t matter how I live, Jesus will still save me. He was after all a good bloke just like me.
The total consequence of this? We are in the glorious position of having the remnants of God’s blessing without needing any of the commitment required to diligently pursue him. That is, both church and society! My sense though, and I feel this is prophetic, is that the price we will pay as a nation for daring to test God like this, will be extortionate. We will end up with a God not of our choosing, and they will be a tyrant. For those with eyes to see, we can see the beginnings already.
Regardless, we continue on with what we are doing. We are convinced beyond all measure, this is what needs to be done. We just wish others could see, as it certainly isn’t just for us. Where are the fellow labourers in Christ? In spite of all the hardships, we can say we have never felt so fulfilled in our lives, doing what he has commanded us. We know him more than we ever have, and we sense his pleasure when we obey.
Further, as Jesus admonishes us, we must think carefully about where we store our treasure. This world is certainly fleeting and beyond this awaits – for those who are faithful, and only those who are, a treasure beyond anything you or I can imagine. What is it?
Simple, it is being with Christ and his Father in person, seeing him as even some of the angels cannot see him, listening, worshipping, laughing and being made glorious ourselves.
We won’t know ourselves such will be the change; but we must do the work that is before us here. Let us tarry, we don’t have long any of us.