There was an old recluse who lived deep in the mountains of Colorado. When he died, distant relatives came from the city to collect his valuables. Upon arriving, all they saw was an old shack with an outhouse alongside it. Inside the shack, next to the stone fireplace, was an old cooking pot and his mining equipment. A cracked table with a three-legged chair stood guard by a tiny window, and a kerosene lamp served as the centerpiece for the table. In a dark corner of the little room was a dilapidated cot with a threadbare bedroll on it.
They picked up some of the old relics and started to leave. As they were driving away, an old friend of the recluse, on his mule, flagged them down. “Do you mind if I help myself to what’s left in my friend’s cabin?” he asked. “Go right ahead,” they replied. After all, they thought, what inside that shack could be worth anything?
The old friend entered the shack and walked directly over to the table. Reaching under it he lifted one of the floor boards and proceeded to take out all the gold his friend had mined and kept over the past 53 years – enough to have built a palace. The recluse died with only his friend knowing his true worth. As the friend looked out the little window, watching the cloud of dust behind the relative’s car disappear, he said to himself, “They should have gotten to know him better.”
Do we ever treat God and His Church this way? Do we think of Him as some old recluse living in the deep recesses of heaven? Do we just go to church to see if there is anything valuable worth collecting? Maybe you go to a fancy church with chandeliers and the latest, greatest of everything; new chairs with cup holders, a star-studded praise and worship team, a charismatic preacher, people laughing and conversing everywhere, a coffee shop, and lots happening! Or maybe you go to an old shack of a church with a bunch of worn-out stained pews, a ragamuffin praise team, a depleted and washed-up preacher, a couple of families just “hanging in there”, some grumpy old men, stale coffee, and a whole lot of things “not happening”. Or maybe you go to a church somewhere between these two extremes!
It doesn’t matter; many people go to Church just to mosey around, look at everything, pick up a few things here and there and then leave. They might find some things they like, especially in the “awesome” churches! But unfortunately, we base so much of what we “want” out of church and what we think we need from God on what we can see by perusing our churches, failing to see past the “stuff”! We miss the value behind the chandeliers, comfortable chairs, shacks, outhouses, fireplaces, pots, cracked tables, windows, and lamps as centerpieces. All we see is “stuff”!
We saunter in and then out of Church without even noticing Holy Spirit waving us down saying, “Hey! Do you mind if I help myself to what’s left inside?” We dismiss Him quickly and casually saying “Go right ahead!” After all, we think, what’s inside worth anything we didn’t already take?
Holy Spirit enters our churches and walks directly up to the cross grabbing one of the many Bibles just lying around on His way! He opens it and kneels at the altar! For the umpteenth time He rediscovers the riches hidden in the pages of time; handles the treasure buried for those who take the time to dig; holds the prize concealed for those who want to know Him. Then He rises, looks out the door and windows and says “They should have gotten to know Him better.”
The relatives knew about the old recluse; they knew they were related; they knew he lived where they didn’t want to be. They could have gleaned so much while He was alive and so much more after His death. As followers of Christ, we know about Jesus; we know we’re related! We know He lives where we want to be one day, but “not yet”. We can glean so much from Him but do we? Has He become an old recluse to us? Are we missing God’s valuables by living a distance away from Him? Have we undervalued His value to us? Have we undervalued His Church?
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Unlike the relatives, we still have time! We can get to know Him; the One who lived and died! We can be amazed by the treasures He has buried for us to find! We can dig for His valuables and find He has put everything away just for us to find! All we need to do is come to Him! He’s not so much interested in what we can see but in what we can’t see. When you go to church, look for the hidden treasures! Don’t just settle for the old (and new) relics of no value, the “stuff”! Don’t just check in with Him at church and then check out! Get to know Him better; in the simplicity of His life! Let’s commit to never hearing the words, “They should have gotten to know Him better!”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”