I can be pretty grumpy at times.
Sometimes I’m irritable just because it’s a Monday, or I haven’t had enough coffee. But I’m sure you’d agree that we live in a world with more than enough real reasons for irritability, worry, and despondency.
So the question I’ve been asking myself this week is: What difference does Jesus make to my experience of life in a difficult world?
Like me, you’re probably watching the news, and despairing over the pain and suffering that many migrants are facing. It’s been making me think – what if that was me? If I was experiencing those horrors personally, would I give up on my faith?
Is following Jesus only for the good times? Is it the privilege of the wealthy, healthy, and happy? (The Bible and human history demonstrate otherwise!)
What if I was to lose everything? Would Jesus be enough?
It made me think of the two mini parables in Matthew 13:
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The good news about God’s kingdom – that his love and home is with anyone who would repent and trust in him through Jesus – is such a precious treasure in itself, that in these stories people sell everything they have to possess it! (And it is a treasure that comes at great cost.)
Yet I can find myself acting as though I have little of value, when I in fact have everything! How short-sighted I am.
John Newton hints at the silliness of this attitude with the following illustration:
“Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his carriage should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, “My carriage is broken! My carriage is broken!”
The Works of the Rev. John Newton (Banner of Truth, 1985), 1:107.
Here are some of the other riches that Christians have been given:
- The riches of God’s grace towards us, expressed in his full forgiveness of all our sins and adoption into his family – Ephesians 1
- The wealth of God’s eternal kindness to us through Jesus – Ephesians 2:7
- Stores of new strength supplied by God’s Spirit – Ephesians 3:16
- Generous and wise provision for our needs – Philippians 4:19
- An everyday relationship with Jesus Christ that nothing can sever – Romans 8:35
And finally a powerful reminder that ultimately it is God himself who is our treasure, and nothing can part us from him; not our feelings, or experiences, or shifting circumstances:
5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
In him we are rich indeed.