Saturday, July 9, 2016

Treasure Hunt

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

-- Isaiah 55:6

What would life be like if everything of value were handed to us and we never had to work for anything?

For example, what would happen if we got straight A's in school without ever studying? Or what if we landed a high-paying job but had no real responsibilities?

Getting everything on a silver platter Treasuremight be nice for a while. But without experiencing challenges, responsibilities and even tragedies, we'd soon become lazy and self-centered, and ultimately fail to reap many of life's greatest rewards. Just ask anyone who worked their way through college or took a second or third job to pay the mortgage or send their child to a better school. It can be a struggle. But it can also pay off big time in the end.

It's true that we can reap great rewards and satisfaction through diligence and hard work. On the other hand, we can never work hard enough or do enough good deeds to earn our way into God's good graces. It was only Jesus' death on the cross that paid that high price. But this doesn't mean we're free of responsibilities. In fact, Christ-followers are called to live lives that reflect his love in action: in our community, in the workplace, at church--and of course--at home.

"I am the vine; you are the branches," Jesus tells us through John's Gospel. "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." The implications are obvious: finding Christ and following him can lead to spiritually enriched, transformed lives that can move mountains.

Jesus' first followers were willing to travel hundreds of miles through deserts and rugged terrain to find him. They were called the Magi, but they're better known as the Wise Men or the Three Kings. Some scholars suggest that they were astrologers from Babylon (ancient Iraq) who were familiar with Old Testament prophesies about the Jews' long-awaited Messiah. As God had planned it centuries earlier, a very special star appeared to them in the nighttime sky. It was a sign that was both astounding and unmistakable: a road map for finding the king of Kings. And follow it and find him they did!

The Magi's journey holds lessons for modern-day Christ-followers like you and me. The first is that following God can be dangerous and demanding. And sure enough, our faith-journeys are full of hairpin turns and steep hills rather than smooth stretches of superhighway. The Wise Men's trek also reminds us that we will find him--the Pearl of Great Price--if we search diligently through faith. After spotting Christ's star in the sky, the Wise Men grasped their life-changing opportunity, stayed on the rough path and ultimately discovered the Savior.

There really is treasure to be found if we're willing to accept Jesus' invitation, take that first step and start the hunt. Our hands are sure to get dirty. And we'll get a scrape or two along the way. But the incredible rewards that await us make it all worth the effort.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you," Christ assures us. "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

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