Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be too.’
Luke 12:33–34

Yesterday, I was thinking about the 'places' where Jesus isn't and the state of our hearts. This morning's Scripture reading above describes the places that we allow our hearts to go that we value above the presence of Jesus.

When reading this, my first thought was that I'm not terribly concerned about treasures in heaven, jewels in my crown, rewards that I will someday get when my soul floats off into heaven to be with Jesus for all eternity. That doesn't really inspire me to action. It's so distant and intangible. My own treasures, the things that I value above Jesus, are often a lot more real than these ethereal heavenly ideals.

But then I reread the passage in terms of heaven breaking into our present reality. The passage takes on an entirely different tone at that point. Instead of treasures being stored up in heaven somewhere, the treasures are genuine reality as the kingdom becomes more present in our midst. Instead of storing up treasures as rewards, the treasures are resources that are used in the inbreaking kingdom to further the mission that God has invited us to be a part of.

When I love someone unlovable, the kingdom of heaven becomes more real in our midst. When I forgive the unforgivable, bring hope to someone who has none, when I reflect the presence of Jesus into places that desperately need him, heaven becomes more real.

Even better, what happens if I can somehow view this passage in less individualistic terms? It's not ME storing up treasures for MYSELF...rather it's each of us storing up treasures that benefit all of us and the world as God's kingdom invades.

I guess that the essence of what I'm saying is that the things that we do as part of Jesus' kingdom advance matter NOW as well as for eternity to come.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Where He Isn't

Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem, looking for him everywhere. It happened that, three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he meant. He went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Luke 2:41–52

I was reading this passage this morning and the thought struck me that for three days, Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus in many places where we wasn't to be found. Eventually, however, they looked for him in the place that they should have looked all his Father's house. They didn't understand that Jesus would always be about his Father's business.

It got me thinking...Do I 'look for Jesus' in places where he won't be found? Like Mary and Joseph at first, do I forget to look for him at all? Would I even notice if he wasn't there? What kind of 'places' does Jesus avoid?

I think that the 'places' that Jesus is not to be found today probably has to do more with states of heart than location. People experiencing brokenness, hopelessness, and frustration are places where Jesus spends his time. People living out their faith in love, bringing hope to the hopeless, bringing peace in the midst of conflict...these are places where Jesus spends his time.

Places that Jesus avoids are those who are filled with pride, self-justification, confidence in their own holiness, people who are more concerned with looking spiritual than being spiritual, people who reject the lost and broken, those who hate justice and mercy. It's unfortunate that I probable spend too much time here and much less time where Jesus is.