“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone 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 jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Cor. 4:5-7
Until recently, my family lived and worked in Greece. Although things are beginning to improve, economically Greece is still in crisis. Most of us don’t have a framework for really understanding what’s happening there. We have the vocabulary, but unless maybe you lived through the Great Depression, our words are empty. It’s tough right now in Athens. This crisis isn’t good… but there is some good that can come out of it. Crises put our treasure on display.
When you treasure something, it’s a comment on its value. We value all sorts of things: wealth, family, security, pleasure, comfort, popularity, entertainment, and on. Obviously, these things have value in our lives, but also realized this: they are competing treasures (competing for our time, our resources, our allegiance). Christ is beckoning us to a greater and deeper treasure: the gospel.
Scripture proclaims an eternal treasure that outshines all the gold in the world. All the riches of God are ours in Christ Jesus… and this is a treasure that doesn’t disappoint, that isn’t subject to global markets. This is a treasure that won’t forget about you in the nursing home or stop calling as you age.
Crisis puts our treasure on display. Whether it’s an economic crisis, a family problem, or an emotional breakdown… difficulty often shows us where our treasures lie.
- If we treasure money above all else, a financial crisis will leave our hearts bankrupt.
- If we treasure people above all else, our hearts will be empty/alone when someone hurts us, or disappoints us, or a relationship falls apart.
- If we treasure pleasure above all else, when the party’s over our hearts (like King Solomon) will feel the stinging pain of vanity.
But when we treasure Jesus Christ above all else, God turns our crisis on its head. Rather than spending our lives hiding from the realities of poverty or loneliness or fleeting pleasure… the gospel frees us to embrace our brokenness – our crisis, our suffering – as a means of experiencing and proclaiming the glory of God’s grace.